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Ghost Rider - Movie Review

By Walter F. Kern

The number one movie this week was Ghost Rider starring Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes. Ghost Rider is based on the Marvel Comics series. I hadn't heard much about this flick except through watching the trailer and TV interviews with the stars. I was definitely going to see it.

I took my wife along and although she loves motorcycles, she hates action/adventure/science fiction/fantasy. She's also the type who wants to know the ending before she sees the movie. I was worried about what her reaction would be.

Not to worry. She liked it.

Cage was a daredevil motorcycle jumper. He worked with his father but the father was getting very sick from smoking and didn't have much time left. Cage's character was called Johnny Blaze, aptly named as you will see. Blaze was confronted by the devil, Mephistopheles, who guaranteed that his father would be cured in the morning but only if Johnny agreed to sell his soul.

As in all deals of this kind, Blaze finds his father cured but soon dead anyway and forced to do the devil's bidding.

There's also a love story buried inside the plot that involves a comely young woman named Roxanne Simpson, played by Eva Mendes. Blaze leaves her in the lurch and finds himself normal (almost boring) by day and a skeleton on fire riding a motorcycle on fire by night. His first job is getting rid of the son of the devil, Blackheart, who appears to be ready to overpower the devil and bring a new wave of terror to the world.

Blaze acts a bit strange during the day listening to Karen Carpenter records -- a particular favorite of mine as well. He reacts a bit like the Incredible Hulk. When provoked, he transforms himself into the Ghost Rider who wears an Elvis-like riding suit and appears to have an empty skull for a head. Fire bounds out of the skull seemingly giving him endless powers. Even the motorcycle transforms into a fire breathing machine that leaves a trail of fire and destruction on both sides of the road as it travels at speeds that confound even a radar gun.

The special effects are plenty good to these eyes. The experience of watching the story unfold took me totally away from my normal thoughts. I was lost in the fantasy and enjoyed it immensely.

This movie also features Peter Fonda as the devil. Remember him in Easy Rider? There were subtle inferences to his Captain America chopper when he first spied Johnny's chopper.

I loved the night sequences of the motorcycle ablaze with fire as it climbed buildings straight up. I was transfixed by the scene of Johnny on his chopper and the caretaker, played by Sam Elliott, on a horse. They were both on fire and their steeds were on fire too. Quite a visual.

So maybe the love story wasn't all that great but it was still effective. The best part was the motorcycle with Johnny on it throwing fire everywhere as Johnny used his power to stop evil. Confrontations between Johnny and his opponents began with the Penance Stare and the words: "Your soul has been tainted by the blood of the innocent. Look into my eyes and feel their pain." Then all Hell broke loose.

At the end of movies, I always sit and watch the credits all the way to the end. Almost everyone in the theater had left the building but I was still there. My wife was anxious to go and was standing waiting in the empty theater for me. Suddenly, the music was playing the last song, one that I hadn't heard in the movie itself. It was very familiar to me. I knew who had sung this song before. It was over 57 years ago that the song had hit number one on the Billboard chart. I was in junior high school. Vaughn Monroe. He sang that song back in 1949 -- Ghost Riders in the Sky. I even remembered the words. As the closing visuals showed the fiery bike streaking across the sky on the screen, it was as if I was in another time and place. Ghost Rider had worked its magic on me.

See this movie. Suspend disbelief and enjoy yourself. If you love motorcycles, you will love Ghost Rider.

Buy the Video: Ghost Rider

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