Riding Ghosts since 1972

In my third article on Superhero Movies, I’m going to tackle two films that were full of potential and ended up almost being good.

See also Parts one and two in my series where I explain my theory on why so many of these movies miss the mark.

Today we’ll start with Ghostrider

I so wanted to love this movie. The trailers were good. The special effects looked awesome and Nickolas Cage was trying to be different in a positive way. Throughout the film I kept thinking “Hey, this might actually be the Ghostrider Film I wanted to see.” Then it fell on its face.

Things that went wrong:
Casting

The director/writer. I can only blame Mark Stephen Johnson for most of my issues with this film. He was also the director of Daredevil and Elektra if that gives you any hint of his abilities. He wrote this one too, so he was the one that made the decisions that screwed things up.

Eva Mendez.
She was probably this bored with the script too.
Sure she is pleasant to look at. But the girl has no real presence. I understand why the character would do what she did, but Eva just couldn’t pull it off. It is hard to care about her character. Everytime she came on the screen I had to wonder why he still wanted the snotty chick that his childhood sweetheart turned into.

Donal Logue as Johnny’s buddy Mack.
The other Quaid
Looks like a mix between Randy Quaid and Quentin Tarantino doesn’t he? He is supposed to be a comic relief buddy type character, but why was he neccesary? The director seems to like having this kind of unneccesary character and brings in actors that are supposed to be likeable goofy(and generally unfunny) guys for the roles (IE the lawyer buddy in Daredevil). It just messes with the feel of the film and distracts from the main character.

The big dumb scene.
The Ghostrider pulls down a helicopter just to scare the guys.

The frickin’ ending.
I could have put up with the rest of the problems and this would have been on my list of good Superhero Movies, but there was one big glaring “I can’t believe they were this dumb” flaw that ruins the climax of the film.

Spoiler warning.

The cool part

It ends up that Sam Elliott’s character used to be a Ghost Rider himself. Johnny Blaze is heading off to face his final battle against the bad guy. So Sam tells Johnny he has just enough power left in him for one last ride. He’ll go with him to face the big bad. He then flames up and mounts a skeletal flaming horse and they have this awesome ride into the sunset, the two Ghost Riders heading off to face the film’s climax (See the beginning of the vid below for a glimpse of this awesome part of the film.)

Then, they near the place where the bad guy is and Sam tells Johnny good luck and leaves never to return. Johnny goes off to battle the bad guy by himself. I’m like WHAT??? All that build up and . . . fizzle. Did the director just want Johnny to fight the final battle alone? Then why set up this cool confrontation with both Ghost Riders in the first place?

The lame thing is that before Johnny gets to big bad, he has to fight another henchman demon first. The director could have just had Sam say “I’ll take care of this one, boy. You go get Blackheart.” Then while Johnny goes to face the big bad, we could see a cool fight where Sam as old west Ghost Rider takes on the demon.

Anyway, it totally left me pissed and scratching my head for the rest of the show.

Things that went right:
Casting
The casting of Nicholas Cage actually worked really well. I liked his Johnny Blaze.

Sam Elliott was perfect for his role as the caretaker/old rider. Who else goes around looking more like a cowboy than Sam Elliott?
I ain't suckin the poison out.
He brings gravitas to the roll and he and Cage make the good parts of the movie good.

The special effects were great.

The music was fantastic. Especially the Ghost Rider in the Sky theme from the video above. It plays over the ending credits making you wish you liked the rest of the movie better.

The film actually did pretty good in the theater grossing 229 milion worldwide, but the critics panned it. I panned it too and there was a little bit of gold, just not enough to buy the claim.

But there are plans for a sequel.

Hulk

Hulk try to kill Ang lee, but keep missing.

I really wanted to like the Hulk. The marvel folks seemed to be doing everything right. They picked a great director, an awesome cast. I wasn’t familiar with the writers, but I heard that Ang Lee was being given full reign so it had to be good, right? I mean, he did Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon so he knows how to direct action.

Evidently he had different plans. Lee had them rewrite the script several times because it had, “too much cheap action.” To give you a feel for the film, read this segment from Wikipedia:
Eric Bana commented that the shoot was, “Ridiculously serious… a silent set, morbid in a lot of ways.” Lee told him that he was shooting a Greek tragedy: he would be making a “whole other movie” about the Hulk at Industrial Light and Magic.

So, Hulk as a greek tragedy. That would be good, right? Right? Oy veh. The end result was a 2 1/4 hour movie with 1/2 hours of action. Now the action parts were freaking sweet. Hulk looked great and kicked butt. WHen he was on the screen the movie ruled. Jennifer Connely, once extremely hot, is now a stick figurey wisp of her former self. Still, she can act and she did a great job. Sam Elliott, Eric Bana, the rest of the cast was great. If the movie was about Hulk VS the army or one of Hulk’s vast catalog of villains, it would have been pretty good.

That's right, Bruce. I'm your daddy

The problem was bringing in Nick Nolte as Bruce Banner’s dad. He overacts and chews the scenery like crazy. That whole part of the storyline bogged things down. So instead of Hulk fighting something cool, he ends up fighting Hulk dogs including his dad’s Poodle.

But the big killer of the movie for me was the stupid ending where Hulk ends up fighting his dad who has become a giant energy bubble. The military blows up the bubble. Hulk escapes to become a doctor in South America, the end. I’m not making this up, folks.

Well the movie still made over 200 Mil worldwide but there was enough dissapointment out there that Marvel decided to do a sequel with an all new cast and writers and director. The new one is supposed to be coming out June of this year and be called The Incredible Hulk. We shall see if it falls into the same traps as all the other Superhero Movies.

Next time I just may review a couple of the movies that got it right. Time shall tell.

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