Tag Archive: nicholas cage


Superhero Movies III the quickening

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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Rifftraxapalooza

Rifftrax rules

I have written oft about MST3K and Cinematic Titanic. While doing so I have talked quite a bit about Rifftrax. But I don’t think I have given them the full treatment they deserve. So I am going to review a few Rifftrax that I have seen lately to give you sort of a taste of what Rifftrax is about.

Let’s begin with a brief explanation of what Rifftrax is. Mike Nelson, the host of Mystery Science Theater 3000 for seasons 5-10, saw that with MST3k gone, no one was filling the demand for movie riffing. He was making funny commentary for a company called Legend Films (A company that was releasing old classic films remastered in color.)

The genius hisself Mike Nelson

Mike knew how to riff bad movies, but he also saw all of the big budget Hollywood slush out there that deserved to be lambasted. He knew that he could not put out riffed DVD’s of those films without legally obtaining the rights and the expense to do that would be rediculously high. So instead he came up with the idea of releasing a commentary track in MP3 form that people could play along with the movie. This way you could still get the flavor of MST3K but without the legal mess.

The pros to this method are that Mike is free to riff any movie without limit. Of course to make money, the movies need to be readily available to the public. Also Mike can put out these Rifftrax at his own pace which seems to be every week or two.

In fact, they now have a catalog of over 50 movies completed and the catalog is constantly growing. The films range from the good (Lord of the Rings), to the bad (Patrick Swayze’s Roadhouse), to the ugly (The Starwars Holiday Special). This week they released Plan 9 From Outer Space.

The cons are that he has to convince people that this is easy to do. When I first heard of Rifftrax, I was a bit numb to the idea just because I couldn’t see how I would do it. I don’t really watch movies on my computer much and it sounded like a hastle getting the film and mp3 synched. (By the way it really is pretty easy if you follow their instructions.)

I finally decided to give it a try because of two developments. They came out with a Rifftrax Player, a program that synchs the Rifftrax to the dvd for you, allowing you to pause and rewind without having to resynch anything. Then I read in thier forums how to combine the Rifftrax and the movie and burn your own DVD. From then on I was hooked.

Sometimes Mike riffs the movie by himself, but often times he is accompanied by a guest riffer. Most often this is Kevin Murphy and/or Bill Corbett, the voices of Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot from MST3K. These guys have a great rapport and it translates into hilarious riffing. There have also been a few other guest riffers including Fred Willard and in one of my personal Favorite Rifftrax, Neil Patrick Harris:

The guys have their own Rifftrax Blog where Mike, Kevin, and Bill basically clown around and blog on any topic. They also have a great online community going with forums where you can converse with other fans and enter contests and the like. I recently entered a contest where fans were encouraged to suggest new movies that Rifftrax should do. The only catch was you had to suggest it in Haiku. I won 3rd place with one entry. You can view my entries here.

Let’s review a couple of Rifftrax I recently saw just to give you an idea.

First I’ll start with Top Gun:

Top Gun is considered an 80’s classic by many critics. It never struck a chord with me. Of course I was ten when it came out. The main thing I remembered was how intensely toungey Tom’s kissing was. Ends up I was not the only one. Mike and Bill Corbett were just as repulsed by Tom’s tongue action.

Toungues about to strike.

They had a lot of fun laughing about Tom’s recent craziness and scientology doctrine. The cheesy background music and Kenny Loggins high pitched rock anthems took a beating too. Mrs. Edge watched it with me and we were laughing out loud throughout the movie. Mike and Bill both have a dry tone of voice when riffing and so some of the jokes sneak up on you. Overall it was one of my Favorite Rifftrax.

Now on to the horror remake The Wickerman:

Why is it that the only time Nicholas Cage looks like he isn’t bored out of his mind is when he is in a comedy? Good grief. Adaptation, Weatherman, and now this. Man is he one depressing dude. And man is this one depressing film. There isn’t a single character with a bright future in the entire movie. And the ending is a big freakin’ downer. Thank goodness I had Mike and Kevin Murphy to help me through it.

This is the extent of the facial expressions used in this film

They riff on everything from The slow pace of the movie, to the way Nick’s suitcoat seems to stay pristine despite all he goes through, to the homeliness of the women.

Ug

And this is a movie first and foremost about what would happen if your community was run by a bunch of homely women that happenned to be pagans on the side. Scary? Not really. Sleep inducing? Not with Rifftrax around.

You can read my comparison of Rifftrax VS some of the other MST3K based projects out there in my previous article here. There is also a link to show you how to put Rifftrax on your own DVDs. Which in my opinion is totally the way to go. I now have just about every film they have riffed so far, and I am loving every minute of it.

Update 1/23/08
They have just posted the title of the next Rifftrax title to be released on Tuesday 1/29/08 and it is one of the worst films ever made,

I knew this was coming and still my soul hurts.

The cool thing is that this Rifftrax is written entirely by the fans. For the last month fans have been submitting scripts to Riffraff Theatre. They have compiled the jokes and forwarded them to Rifftrax. Now Mike, Bill, and Kevin will be riffing the film with the fans jokes unedited. This should be interesting.