Movie Review: Ghost Rider

Sure, it starts with a crappy teenage actor who is way too pretty to grow up into the grizzled, equine Nic Cage, but after we get through all the business with Johnny Blaze selling his soul to the Deveeeel for a deal you KNOW has a terrible loop hole, “Ghost Rider” turns into the most glorious ham-flavored camp-fest in comic book adaptation history. In short, this movie is awesome. I fell in love with it at precisely the moment that Nic prepared to jump about 10 18-wheelers with Ozzy's “Crazy Train” blaring throughout the stadium. Why “Crazy Train”? Because, clearly, Johnny Blaze is craaaaaazy (train). But what the stadium full of blood-lusting rednecks doesn't know is that he CAN'T die. The Deveeel won't let him. One of these days, Peter “Mephistopheles” Fonda, is gonna call on his contractually obligated little dare devil to do some biness. Deveeel Biness. And knowing Satan, it's probably going to be when you're getting ready to reconcile with your estranged first love, who also happens to be a giant wino. And of course it's going to involve turning your head into a flaming skull. Isn't that just like Satan?

There are only about a million things to love about Nic Cage's performance: Teetotaler Blaze's relaxing martini glasses full of jelly beans (“Come on, man. You know alcohol gives me nightmares”). His love for shows about and starring monkeys (“Hey man, turn the monkey show back on”). His dressing room warm-ups sountracked by the Carpenters. Every ridiculous line is delivered with an unparalleled understanding of how to pull off the world's cheesiest dialog and still maintain a certain level of dignity. My companions and I haven't laughed so hard in a movie theatre in a very long time. But we weren't laughing AT Ghost Rider. We were laughing WITH Ghost Rider. I am now convinced that Cage has found his calling. Forget Oscar fodder about alcoholics. This is what he was born to do.

But Cage couldn't have done it alone. He was ably backed by Wes Bentley as Blackheart, the rebellious son of Satan, and Sam Elliott, who has the most impressive facial hair ever captured on celluloid. Peter Fonda phones it in somewhat. But a Peter Fonda phoning it in is still better than many actors who give it their all. (Isn't that right, Ben Afleck?)

To give you a better understanding of what you're in for, allow me to describe one of my favorite moments.

Johnny Blaze is the son and protege of Barton Blaze, who died in a tragic stunt accident which may or may not have been orchestrated by the Deveeeel. As Johnny prepares to jump his motorcycle over the spinning blades of several helicopters, his friend naturally asks him why the crazy with the certain death jumping over helicopters. We flash back to Barton Blaze saying how one day he'd reaaaaally like to jump over the spinning blades of ONE helicopter. Tragically, he never got the chance. Back in the present, a ruminative Johnny Blaze explains to his friend, in his Elvis-esque brogue, “My dad thought it'd be cool.” And then he jumps in his motorcycle!

I'm not saying “Ghost Rider” is the next “Citizen Kane”. But for a movie about a guy with a flaming skull for a head who fights evil, it's pretty incredible.

Weekend Recap

FRIDAY

I packed my bag full of booze and Brugos and I met Ben at the Oak Tree Cinema to see Ghost Rider. About 10 minutes in, I realized that this was the greatest bad comic book movie ever made. It was truly glorious. Actors were hamming it up right and left and, at the center of it all, was Nicolas Cage. Brugos and I are both now convinced that he is am incredible actor. It takes a tremendous amount of talent to be able to pull of hammy lines like that and be engaging. I was also very impressed with Wes Bentley who proved that he's not just a bag-obsessed dramatic actor but camp it up with the best of them. (The best being Nic Cage. God damn. He was awesome.)

Ben wasn't quite so enamored with the whole thing. But, by the end, most of the theatre was laughing along which was great because it meant that mine and Brugos' constant cackling wasn't as annoying to others as we'd feared. We weren't making fun. We were genuinely enjoying the shit out of Ghost Rider. I'm excited to write my review for the work blog.

After the movie, we wandered over to the Mandarin Gate for some karaoke. We were met by Elyse. The place was pretty crowded and we were surprised to see a few hipsters in attendance. One of them sounded like Cat Power, if Cat Power sang fun songs. I felt a bit off but everyone insisted that I sounded OK. Still, I couldn't really hear myself and I was getting kind of frustrated. We left around midnight but I never did get the post-Ghost Rider high back, we Brugos and I just went home after dropping Elyse off.

SATURDAY
We spent all day getting the house in order and got SO much done. It was really nice to be so productive. After picking up some food from Taste of India, we had Andy and John over for poker. Brugos won both games. We finished the evening with some very intense Catan which we were all pretty close to winning. John pulled it out in the end.

SUNDAY
We did a little more clean up and then decided we needed to get out of the house. We were going to play some tennis, but I realised I didn't have any sneakers. I had gotten rid of my last pair because they hurt and I hadn't replaced them. Brugos suggested a trip to the mall, which I am always quick to nay say. In the end, he convinced me that we could get in and out fast and then play some tennis. So we hit the Payless at Northgate and it was, indeed, very fast. Best of all, they were having a buy-one-get-one-half-off sale on ANYTHING in the store. So I ended up with a pair of sneakers and boots for $40 and Brugos got some dress shoes and hiking boots.

We got to the tennis court around 3:30. It was raining a little bit but we managed to get about 45 minutes of play in before the wind and exhaustion got the better of us. I hadn't played tennis in about 10 years so I was, naturally, terrible. But it was very fun and I improved quite a bit during the short time we were out there. I look forward to playing more once the weather improves.

When we got home, we cooked up some dinner and then put in Guerilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst. Neither of us knew very much about the story, but the documentary was amazing. Not only was it a fantastic story, but they had SO much actual footage of the events, and all of the tapes that the S.L.A. sent, that you really felt like you were watching the events unfold as they happened. They also interviewed the 2 members who were in prison during the kidnapping. I also had a revelation, during the movie. I didn't realize that Cecil B. Demented is basically the Patty Hearst story re-told with radical filmmakers. Cecil has been my favorite Waters movie since it was released, but now I can enjoy it on a whole new level. Waters is a genius. I also now understand why so many college kids identified with Hearst and elevated her as a hero. I wish I'd sought to learn about this story years ago.

Brad arrived just as the movie was ending, and we broke out the Catan board. We played a rousing game and finished in time to watch a TiVod BSG. I must admit that I feel like this last episode of BSG kind of jumped the space shark a little. Come on, guys. Blowing Chief and Callie out into space and catching them in a Raptor? Because apparently people CAN survive for up to a minute in space with no suit. And does a hull breach really sound like a wind storm is going on outside? I didn't think space was all that windy. But what do I know? And every year on his anniversary, Adama has to put up with the bitchy ghost of his ex-wife? The only good thing about this episode was the Lee finally got to give a rousing speech that didn't sound whiny or insolent. Otherwise, it was pretty weak.