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GHOST RIDER

SYNOPSIS:
When young stunt rider Johnny Blaze (Matt Long) discovers his father is dying of cancer, he is distraught; this is the moment Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda) chooses to come to him with a deal: his father's good health for Johnny's soul. Johnny has no choice, but as he grows up he finds the deal is pretty one sided. The adult Johnny (Nicolas Cage) seems indestructible on the stunt circuit by day, but at night he becomes the devil's bounty hunter of rogue souls - the fiery Ghost Rider. When he meets up again with the childhood sweetheart he left behind, Roxanne (Eva Mendes), Johnny faces the toughest battle of his life: to use his special powers to defend the innocent. Mephistopheles has other plans.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Spectacularly forged in the fires of cinematic creativity, Ghost Rider is also spectacularly silly, cheesy and a tad infantile. On the other hand, judging by the preview crowd's scattered applause, it might just hit its target market with a bullseye. The target market being fans of the Marvel comic hero, Ghost Rider. One suspects that Nicolas Cage took on the role for a bit of fun around Melbourne (where it was shot in the Docklands studio) and Peter Fonda couldn't resist playing Mephistopheles, even though he doesn't get to ride the Easy Rider-reminiscent motorbike on which the Ghost Rider speeds round in a blaze of demonic fire. Eva Mendes? Maybe she did it to be in good company? Anyway, they all do their bit well enough, although in this film the special effects are what the fans will want to see.

And special indeed they are: morphing Cage from human to the blazing skull-headed Ghost Rider is artful, as are the many other evil morphings, the blazing firestorms created as they speed past buildings, cars, and even poor lizards minding their own business in the desert of Texas. (These scenes were not shot at Moonee Ponds, or indeed any other Aussie outback location, oddly enough.)

The plot is a bit topsy turvy (as if we really mind about the plot), and the overblown dramatic style detracts from the film's fabulous cinematography, thanks to veteran Aussie Russell Boyd and from its stylistics. Too much too often repeated and too early teens for me - but then, one man's meat is another man's poison.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

GHOST RIDER (M)
(US, 2007)

CAST: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Peter Fonda, Donal Logue, Matt Long, Raquel Alessi, Brett Cullen

PRODUCER: Michael De Luca, Avi Arad, Gary Foster, Steven Paul

DIRECTOR: Mark Steven Johnson

SCRIPT: Mark Steven Johnson (from Marvel Comics)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Russell Boyd

EDITOR: Ricgard Francis-Bruce

MUSIC: Christopher Young

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kirk M. Petrucelli

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 15, 2007







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