With every safe successive dull cookie cutter Marvel film, the zany Nick Cage mis fire from 2007 looks better and better.
Two years before the birth of the MCU in Iron Man (2008) this attempt to reboot the Blade franchise fizzled at the box office. Now it looks mood wise less a 4th sequel to Blade, more a precursor to Taika’s Thor Ragnorak.
Steven Norrington, director of Blade was was tapped to direct this but it went to Mark Steven Johnson, who has previously dropped the ball on the Ben Afleck Daredevil (the extended version is better but it’s still bad).
Big stars and set pieces just about overcome uninspired direction and tired plot
This is very much a Nicolas Cage movie and if you can embrace the crazy of something like Bad Lieutenant Port of Call New Orleans you should enjoy this. Ghost Rider had been a passion project of his for years, and 2007 was a time when the star was more important than the authenticity of the comic character- NC makes his Elvis pointing pose from Wild at Heart an integral part of the Riders judgement of the innocent and it pretty much works. In 2006 the relentless Nick Cage Elvisness of this movie was a bit tiresome – after a decade of dull superhero films since, a Las Vegas obsessed spirit of vengeance is quite refreshing.
Speaking of disappointing Marvel films, Peter Fonda is an infinitely better representation of evil than the awful version of Dormammu in Dr Strange. Marvel could do worse than adopt Fonda’s likeness for Mephistopheles going forward. Best part of the movie by far is the star of Easy Rider looking at the Carnival devil and commenting deeply
Eva Mendez makes the absolute most of a typically limited Marvel female part. Both the leads are too old for their parts but are at least age appropriate for each other abs have great chemistry. Mendez’s Magic 8 ball at the date, which looks like onset improv, gets funnier with repeated watches.
First movie appearance of Rebel Wilson playing a confused Goth, and she makes the most of a brief cameo. Donal Logue, of Blade (inevitably) and Gotham also appears as Cage’s mechanic.
Plot has issues
First 20 mins doesn’t even have Nicolas Cage in it (you might see that as a positive). Young NC (Matt Long) is better at playing Johnny than real NC is, and perhaps a modern MCU version might have kept him.
This is 2007 however and the villain Blackheart is obviously a second rate version of Stephen Dorf’s Deacon Frost from Blade, a real call back to to what this movie really is trying to be – an easy remake of that movie. Mark Steven Johnson’s plot is at least heavily inspired by David S. Goyer’s Daywalker plot. Blackheart and Deacon Frost are both new Generation villains sweeping away the old world, and the Blood God of Blade and the Contract of San Braganza are almost interchangeable.
Blackheart even claims “I’m the only one who can walk in both worlds” and it’s difficult to imagine a more obvious call back to Wesley Snipe’s Daywalker.
Norrington was reportedly tipped to direct this but sadly retired from the business after clashing with Sean Connery on the set of League of Extraordinary Gentleman. (Easy on those curses Alan).
Accentuating the positive, I’m not sure Steven Norrington’s pre Matrix cool would suit this Ghost Rider anyway. Ghost Rider is more Carny and corny than Matrix and you have to accept it for that. Though it has the trappings of a Marvel movie Mark Steven Johnson is really directing a vehicle for Nicolas Cage, and this movie vehicle is wild and often on fire.
The Jail sequence is definitely the highlight but Blaze’s flames highlights the lack of budget elsewhere.
Some nice moments
- “Is the bike ok?” – we’ve all been there for that
- Great to see Brit Demon classic Night of the Demon on tv
- RAGE neon a rip off of similar scene from mood similar Shoot Em Up, let’s say it’s a homage
Blaze’s custom is a Panhead Chopper was custom built for the movie
Stunt bikes are Buell X-1’s as detailed here
Most haunting aspect to Ghost Rider (2007)
You have to wonder, after the reception granted to Venom, if Ghost Rider (2007) would be considered such a failure if released now. Would Blaze’s obsession with Carpenters, chimp video, and candy cocktails be given more of a pass after Tom Hardy’s bonkers turn in that highly successful Sony movie?
This movie couldn’t catch a break at the time but deserves one because there is one area where this Marve movie stands out – Cage makes Ghost Rider an obviously blue collar superhero.
“I went to college , got a great job, but you – haven’t changed”
says Mendes’s reporter to grown up Johnny Blaze.
Ten years before 2016 made this split in society horribly obvious, Cage makes Blaze an explicitly working class boy left behind by his peers. Blaze has risen from poverty to be a success only because of the indestructibility of his curse, making him a very distinctive Evel Knievel character refreshingly unlike the Tony Stark clones many many Marvel movies since. Johnny is no Silicon Valley middle class doctor lawyer techno genius, he’s just a truly doomed kid from a poor one parent family that lived in a trailer on the road.
If they are really embracing diversity in the MCU these days – and I’m all for it, WAKANDA FOREVER! – there is some here.