Friday, February 17, 2012

Two thumbs down

It might have been profitable for the studio, but it wasn't a very good film. I speak of course of the 2007 Nicholas Cage vehicle Ghost Rider. Cage may be one of Hollywood's most bankable stars, but since his 1995 Academy Award win, if you wanted to be harsh you could say that his output since then has been mixed at best.

Southbank footbridge, Yarra River
Nonetheless, in a few weeks time we'll see the release of the sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Presumably, enough people out there are interested in the story of Johnny Blaze, who I vaguely remember was a stunt motorcyclist who made a pact with a demon (Peter Fonda) which went wrong, and consequently found himself supernaturally transformed into the Ghost Rider, a living skeleton with a flaming head who rides a motorcycle, and becomes a sort of super anti-hero.

Cage seemed to spend a lot of time on screen pointing his finger at people and eating jelly beans. Aside from that, the only aspect of the film that was interesting was seeing my home town of Melbourne passed off as a generic American city, and prominent landmarks such as Docklands stadium, Collins Street, Geelong Road, and the Yarra River used in action sequences. At the time the American dollar had a favourable exchange rate against the Australian dollar, which is presumably part of the reason why the film was shot here, as well as government tax incentives. Another reason was that the Victorian state government built a new film studio complex, and it needed to attract some big budget international productions to this facility to prove to the naysayers that it wasn't a white elephant.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was shot in Romania and Turkey. No preview screenings have been held for critics, which is normally a worrying sign. As of today film review aggregrator website Rotten Tomatoes reports unanimously negative reviews for a tomato rating of 0%. With that sort of negative buzz, it sounds like one to pass on seeing at the cinema and waiting for the DVD instead, and even then as a weekly rental.

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