Fiery Skeletons and Motorcycles

For as long as I can remember my soda of choice has been Dr. Pepper. I like it mostly because it isn’t Coke or Pepsi; it’s something different. There is of course just as much marketing and hype behind Dr. Pepper as Coke, but it’s still different. Growing up I read a lot of comics (probably not as many as David, but a good amount) and while I enjoyed Superman, Batman, and Spiderman I went out of my way to read the lesser known heroes. I was a big Dare Devil fan. I enjoyed Nova more than it deserved. And I read Ghost Rider. I didn’t read it religiously mind you, but I would pick up a copy every now and again because it was different. Ghost Rider had the mystic elements of a good Dr. Strange story and the kick-ass fights of..of..well any other comic book except Dr. Strange.  Also he had a motorcycle. He was a Hero without a cause.

David and I hemmed and hawed over which movie to watch for our second review. I can’t remember who admitted it first, but once Ghost Rider got added to the list we both admitted that we wanted to go see it. I’d seen the first Ghost Rider on DVD, but it had been a while. David confessed to owning Ghost Rider (I) on Blu-ray. We decided to watch the first movie in preparation for the sequel; that way we would be sure to follow the complex plot lines across these two great films. Also we needed an excuse to get together to taste some beer. We watched the movie in David’s cinema room and it was gloriously loud. On Blu-ray the flaming skull of the ghost rider was perfectly rendered. We got to see the origin story, which like most of the super hero movies was a little different from the way I first read it between the covers of a comic book. The movie was as trite as I remembered it and they blew a lot of things up. It was a great way to spend an evening and afterwards I was pretty excited to see the second movie.

Ghost Rider : Spirit of Vengeance is not great cinema. I had no expectations that it would be. It is a comic book put on the screen for the geeky teenager in all of us to enjoy and escape reality for a little bit. Nicholas Cage reprises his role as Johnny Blaze, a man cursed with a demon inside him that is known as the Ghost Rider. They have mixed in a lot of the cannon about Ghost Rider from different versions of the comic book, but that is not unusual for a super hero movie. The story for Spirit of vengeance takes place an undetermined time since the first movie and Johnny Blaze has roamed the Earth trying to escape his curse. He has fled to somewhere in Eastern Europe (they may have said where, but it clearly didn’t matter and I don’t remember). The plot revolves around a boy who is sought by the Devil and a mysterious rouge priest offers to help Johnny rid himself of the rider if he uses his powers to help him find the boy and keep him safe. There are lots of great battles with the Ghost Rider throwing around a flaming chain and Johnny quickly becomes a father figure for the young boy and if they had another 30 minutes of script I am sure the boy’s mother would have been a love interest. Instead they kept it simple and she was just a traveling gypsy mother with a penchant for shooting machine guns. Probably the most notable scene in the movie is when the Rider is fighting the bad guys in a deserted construction site. There is a huge Earth Mover with a wheel of spinning bulldozer blades in the construction yard and as soon it was on camera I began to suspect it would become the Ghost Rider’s ride. For the uninitiated whatever vehicle (or animal) the Ghost Rider is riding becomes his Ride and turns into a flaming vehicle of awesomeness. Seeing a huge, five-story tall Earth Mover spouting hell fire (in 3-D no less) is probably worth the price of the movie. You know if you like that kind of thing. The story culminates in a battle between Johnny and the Devil. I’ll let you guess who wins.

I walked out of the movie thinking that it felt like a Ghost Rider comic book. I enjoyed seeing it on a big screen and while I probably won’t rush to watch it again any time soon it was an evening well spent. David and I went on a Monday evening and we had the place mostly to ourselves. I remember thinking that we were going to get a private screening just like a “reel” critic, until someone walked in a few minutes before they dropped the lights. Going to see the movie was a good reminder of why I am doing the blog. We went out to a movie that I probably would have skipped on a night when I would have just sat at home. You might even say I had a Damned good time.


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