Ghost Rider (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mark Steven Johnson|
|Produced by||Avi Arad
Michael De Luca
|Screenplay by||Mark Steven Johnson|
|Based on||Ghost Rider
by Gary Friedrich
|Music by||Christopher Young|
|Editing by||Richard Francis-Bruce|
|Studio||Crystal Sky Pictures
Michael De Luca Productions
Vengeance Productions Pty Ltd.
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||114 minutes|
Ghost Rider is a 2007 Australian-American supernatural superhero film written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson, the director of Daredevil. Based on the character of the same name which appeared in Marvel Comics,the character's first appearance being in 1972. The film stars Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze with supporting roles done by Eva Mendes, Wes Bentley, Sam Elliott, Donal Logue, Matt Long, and Peter Fonda. The film was met with negative reviews by critics but was a success at the box office.
Its sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, was released five years later on February 17, 2012, Nicolas Cage remaining as the role of Ghost Rider/Johnny Blaze.
The Devil, Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda), sends his bounty hunter of the damned, the Ghost Rider, to retrieve the contract of San Venganza for a thousand corrupt souls. Seeing that the contract would give Mephistopheles the power to bring Hell to Earth, the Rider refuses to give him the contract.
A century and a half later, Mephistopheles reaches out to 17-year-old stunt motorcycle rider Johnny Blaze (Matt Long), offering to cure his father's lung cancer in exchange for Blaze's soul. The next morning, Blaze awakes to discover that his father's cancer is cured, but his father is killed that same day in a motorcycle stunt in which he falls into the ring of fire he is jumping through. Blaze accuses Mephistopheles of causing his father's death, but Mephistopheles considers their contract to be fulfilled.
Years later, Blaze (Nicolas Cage) has become a famous stunt rider. Blaze meets his former childhood sweetheart Roxanne Simpson (Eva Mendes), now a journalist, who he abandoned after his father's death. He convinces her he wishes to make amends and she agrees to a dinner date. Meanwhile, Blackheart (Wes Bentley), the demonic son of Mephistopheles, comes to Earth, along with three fallen angels. They are tasked to find the lost contract of San Venganza. In response, Mephistopheles makes Blaze the new Ghost Rider, and offers him his soul back in return for defeating Blackheart. Blaze is driven straight to the station on his "first ride", where he transforms into the Ghost Rider and a fight with the fallen angels ensues. The next day, he meets a man called the Caretaker (Sam Elliott), who seems to know all about the history of the Ghost Rider. He tells him everything that happened wasn't a dream and that it will happen again, especially when he is near evil.
When he arrives home, Blaze finds Simpson and reveals himself as the Devil's bounty hunter. Unconvinced, she leaves in anger and disbelief. After a brief imprisonment for the murders Blackheart committed, Blaze goes to the Caretaker for advice. The Caretaker tells him of his predecessor, Carter Slade, a Texas Ranger who hid the contract of San Venganza. Blaze returns home to find that Blackheart has killed his friend Mack (Donal Logue) and already has taken Simpson captive, threatening to kill her if Blaze does not deliver the contract to him.
Blaze returns to the Caretaker and obtains the contract. The Caretaker reveals that he is Carter Slade. Slade tells Blaze that he is more powerful than his predecessors, since he sold his soul for love as opposed to greed. The two leave for San Venganza. Slade gives Blaze his lever action shotgun before fading away.
After killing one of the fallen angels, Blaze gives the contract to Blackheart. He quickly transforms into Ghost Rider in an effort to subdue Blackheart, but dawn comes and he is rendered powerless. Blackheart uses the contract to absorb the thousand souls into his body. He attempts to kill Blaze, but is distracted when Simpson uses Blaze's discarded shotgun to separate them. After Blaze tries to kill Blackheart with the shotgun, he moves in and uses his Penance Stare to render him catatonic, burning all the corrupt souls within Blackheart.
Mephistopheles appears and gives Blaze his soul, offering to take back the curse of the Ghost Rider. Blaze refuses, saying that he will use his power against him, and against all harm that comes to the innocent. Infuriated of being robbed of the power, Mephistopheles vows to make Blaze pay, but Blaze tells Mephistopheles that he is not afraid. Mephistopheles then disappears, taking Blackheart's body with him. Later, Simpson tells Blaze that he got his second chance before sharing a final kiss with him. Blaze then rides away on his motorcycle, turning into the Ghost Rider.
- Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze / Ghost Rider
- Matt Long as young Johnny
- Eva Mendes as Roxanne Simpson
- Raquel Alessi as young Roxanne
- Peter Fonda as Mephistopheles
- Wes Bentley as Blackheart / Legion
- Sam Elliott as Carter Slade / Caretaker
- Brett Cullen as Barton Blaze
- Donal Logue as Mack
- Matt Norman as Team Blaze
- David Roberts as Captain Dolan
- Rebel Wilson as Girl in Alley
In May 2000 at the Cannes Film Festival, Marvel Comics announced an agreement with Crystal Sky Entertainment to film Ghost Rider with actor Jon Voight attached as a producer. Production was scheduled to start in early 2001 with a budget of $75 million, with actor Johnny Depp expressing interest in the lead role.
In July 2000 Stax of IGN reviewed a draft script for Ghost Rider written by David Goyer. The script version is set in Louisiana. Stax felt that the revision was convoluted; he suggested that Goyer rewrite the plot and develop the characters.
The following August, Dimension Films joined Crystal Sky to co-finance the film, which would be written by David S. Goyer and directed by Stephen Norrington. In June 2001, actor Nicolas Cage entered talks to be cast into the lead role for Ghost Rider, and by July, had closed a deal with the studio. According to producer Steven Paul, Cage had found out about Depp being a possibility for the role and contacted the director to express his own interest, being an avid Ghost Rider fan.
In the following August, Norrington abandoned the project due to a scheduling conflict, leaving to film the action film Tick Tock starring Jennifer Lopez. Cage eventually left the project as well. By May 2002, the studio Columbia Pictures sought to acquire rights to the film in turnaround from Dimension Films following the success of Spider-Man. In April 2003, under Columbia Pictures, director Mark Steven Johnson took over the helm for Ghost Rider with Cage returning for the lead role. Both had been drawn by a script written by screenwriter Shane Salerno. Johnson, rewriting Salerno's script, was set to begin production of Ghost Rider in late 2003 or early 2004. With production delayed into October 2003, Cage took a temporary leave of absence to film The Weather Man. Ghost Rider production was slated to tentatively begin in May or June 2004.
Ghost Rider had again been delayed to begin in late 2004, but the lack of a workable script continued to delay production. In January 2005, actor Wes Bentley was cast as the villain Blackheart, having been introduced to Johnson by Colin Farrell, who had worked with the director in Daredevil. Actress Eva Mendes was also cast opposite Cage as Roxanne Simpson. On February 14, 2005, Ghost Rider commenced filming in Australia at the Melbourne Docklands film studios. Then in March 2005, actor Peter Fonda (who starred in Easy Rider) was cast as the villain Mephistopheles. Johnson originally planned to film before an audience at the Telstra Dome, but instead opted to create a crowd using computer-generated imagery. The director also chose to film in the motorcycle district of Melbourne. By June 2005, principal photography had been completed for Ghost Rider, which was set for a summer 2006 release. In April 2006, the cast and crew performed last-minute reshoots in Vancouver. Ghost Rider was originally scheduled to release on August 4, 2006, but the date was moved three weeks earlier to July 14, 2006. Sony changed the film's release date once more to February 16, 2007 to help relieve the studio's crowded 2006 calendar.
Instead of a "hard drinking and smoking bad ass" Johnny Blaze, Nicolas Cage decided to give him more depth. "I'm playing him more as someone who... made this deal and he's trying to avoid confronting it, anything he can do to keep it away from him". Cage also explained that Blaze's stunt riding was a form of escape and a way to keep him connected to his deceased father, who taught him to ride. Cage rode a Buell motorcycle for Blaze's stunt cycle, and a heavily customized hardtail chopper named "Grace" which transforms into the "Hell Cycle". The Hell Cycle's wheels, made of pure flames in the comics, were changed to be solid tires covered in flames in order to give the motorcycle more weight onscreen.
The film's visual effects supervisor, Kevin Mack, and the visual effects team at Sony Pictures Imageworks handled the difficult task of creating computer-generated fire on a shot-by-shot basis. Ghost Rider's skull flames were designed to become smaller and blue to display any emotion other than rage. Kevin's Team at Imageworks also created computer-generated motorcycles, chains, water, black goo, dementors and buildings. To pull off such unbelievable effects like the living morph where the hardtail chopper ("Grace") comes alive to become the "Hell Cycle" Sony enlisted teams of animators, models, effects artists, lighters & "Flame" artists. The department supervisors for these teams at Imageworks included Kevin Hudson, Brian Steiner, JD Cowels, Marco Marenghi, Joe Spadaro, Joanie Karnowski, Vincent Serritella & Patrick Witting. Patrick's team bore the brunt of the work as they created the fire using a custom pipeline that automated the set up starting with Maya animated geometry driving Maya Fluids, imported into Houdini and then rendered & composited on top of the live action plates. Patrick and his team set up the fire process and much of the front end automation was set up by Scott Palleiko and Joe Spadaro. The fire was then tweaked and manipulated to look and move believably by Patick's eleven man Houdini effects team. All of this was enabled by effects producers Daniel Kuehn and the Digital Effects Supervisor Kee-Suk 'Ken' Hahn.
The digital version of the hell cycle was modeled in detail by Kevin Hudson and based on the practical prop used in the film, it included animatable skeletal hands that came alive to wrap the gas tank during the supernatural transformation scene. The transformation scene was animated by Max Tyrie and finalized by Joe Spadaro. Each part of the "Grace" geometry had to match up and morph with a piece of geometry on the "Hell Cycle"
The bullet time like scene where Ghost Rider on the "Hell Cycle" jumps from a building cutting to slow motion with the flaming chain was the brainchild of animator Maks Naporowski. Kevin Mack, was looking for what he called "shoe leather" to tie the two scenes together. Maks & Marco came up with this incredible concept that went on to become one of the most impressive scenes in the film & on the trailers.  Ghost Rider's voice was manipulated by sound designer Dane Davis, who won an Academy Award for Sound Editing for The Matrix. Davis filtered Cage's line readings through three different kinds of animal growls that were played backwards and covered separate frequencies. Davis then amplified the dialogue through a mechanical volumizer. Director Johnson described the sound as a "deep, demonic, mechanical lion's roar".
In May 2005, Sony Pictures launched the official website for Ghost Rider.
The following July, the studio presented a Ghost Rider panel at Comic-Con International and screened a teaser for the audience. The teaser, which did not have finalized footage of the film, eventually leaked online. In the same month, Majesco Entertainment Company announced its deal with Marvel to acquire worldwide rights to produce the video game Ghost Rider for the PS2, PSP, and Game Boy Advance consoles.
In December 2005, the studio presented a first glimpse of Ghost Rider in a ten-second footage piece on the official site.
The Ghost Rider was also featured in a commercial for Jackson Hewitt Tax Services in which the character presented his income tax forms to a clerk for processing to receive a quick refund check.
On April 19, 2007, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment confirmed that in America the film will be issued on June 12, 2007 as a single-disc Theatrical Cut DVD, two-disc Extended Cut DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and UMD. Special features on the Extended Cut DVD include two commentary tracks, a comic book history feature, and a making of the film featurette.
Extended Cut version was also release on HD DVD in France on September 7, 2007.
Ghost Rider has received mostly negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, Ghost Rider has a 27% overall approval out of 131 reviews from critics with the critical consensus stating: "Ghost Rider is a sour mix of morose, glum histrionics amidst jokey puns and hammy dialogue". The results were mirrored in Metacritic reviews as well, displaying a ranking of 35 out of 100 based on 20 critical reviews. Additionally, Michael Ordoña of the Los Angeles Times and Jeannette Catsoulis of the New York Times expressed disappointment in the movie, with Ordoña citing the "satanic references" and "judgemental" elements of Cage's character, and Catsoulis denoting how Johnny Blaze is "more funny than frightening". Although Eric Alt of the Chicago Tribune praised the computer-generated effects of the film, he also criticized it, calling it a "clumsy, lifeless outing". IGN named the film the worst comic book movie of the decade. The film was nominated for one Razzie Award for Nicolas Cage as Worst Actor.
Ghost Rider was commercially released in the United States on February 16, 2007. The film grossed $15,420,123 on its opening day, while earning $45,388,836 for its opening weekend. The film earned $52,022,908 over the four-day President's Day weekend, with a per-theater average of $US 14,374 in 3,619 theaters. The film's total earnings were $228,738,393 worldwide of which $115,802,596 was from the USA.
|Ghost Rider: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Film score by Christopher Young|
|Released||February 13, 2007|
|Genre||Film score, orchestral|
|Christopher Young chronology|
In December 2005, musical composer Christopher Young was announced to score Ghost Rider. In addition, Spiderbait, a band that Johnson befriended during filming in Australia, performed a cover of "Ghost Riders in the Sky" for the end credits. There has been a critically negative reaction from fans about "Ghost Riders in the Sky" not appearing on the soundtrack. The Studio still has yet to respond.
All songs written and composed by Christopher Young.
|3.||"Artistry in Death"||4:13|
|4.||"A Thing for Karen Carpenter"||2:01|
|6.||"More Sinister Than Popcorn"||5:40|
|7.||"No Way to Wisdom"||2:15|
|13.||"Serenade to a Daredevil's Devil"||1:53|
|15.||"The West Was Built on Legends"||3:59|
The sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance started filming in November 2010 and was released on February 17, 2012. Nicolas Cage reprised his role as Johnny Blaze and also portrayed Johnny Blaze in his Ghost Rider form. Crank filmmakers Neveldine/Taylor directed the movie.
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- Michael Fleming (2000-08-30). "'Ghost' adds a Dimension". Variety. Retrieved 2006-12-22.
- "Cage considers 'Ghost Rider' role". Erie Times-News. 2001-06-28.
- Julia Brinksneader (2001-07-31). "Another 'ER' casualty". The Columbus Dispatch.
- James Berkshire (2001-08-20). "Cage GHOST RIDER Burning Out?". Cinescape.
- "`Ghost Rider' could follow Spidey film". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 2002-05-24.
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- Angela Dawson (2004-11-18). "Nicolas Cage likes to hunt for treasure". The Cincinnati Post.
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- Pamela McClintock (2005-03-01). "Marvel to prime pupils". Variety. Retrieved 2006-12-22.
- "More than a name". The Age. 2005-02-14. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
- Colin Covert (2005-03-11). "The bounce – who's up – who's down". Star Tribune.
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- Karl Quinn (2005-03-06). "Foreign film upturn a tale of two cities". The Age. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
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- Majesco Entertainment Company (2005-07-13). "Majesco Creating Ghost Rider Movie Game". SuperHeroHype.com. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
- Columbia Pictures (2005-12-20). "The Ghost Rider Revealed!". SuperHeroHype.com. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
- Sideshow Collectibles (2006-04-27). "Exclusive Look at Sideshow's Ghost Rider Maquette!". SuperHeroHype.com. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
- Sony Pictures (2006-05-23). "Ghost Rider Teaser Trailers Hit!". SuperHeroHype.com. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
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- "Ghost Rider (2007): Reviews". Metacritic. CNET Networks, Inc. 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
- Ordoña, Michael (February 17, 2007). "'Ghost Rider'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-10-24.[dead link]
- Catsoulis, Jeannette (February 17, 2007). "Ghost Rider – Movie Review". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
- Alt, Eric (February 16, 2007). "Ghost Rider: There's not much life in this comic book adaption". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
- "Ghost Rider (2007) – Daily Box Office". Box Office Mojo. 2007-03-13. Retrieved 2007-03-13.
- "Ghost Rider (2007) – Weekend Box Office". Box Office Mojo. 2007-03-13. Retrieved 2007-03-13.
- "Ghost Rider (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
- "Soundtracks for Ghost Rider". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
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- Official website
- Ghost Rider at Marvel.com
- Ghost Rider at the Internet Movie Database
- Ghost Rider at allmovie
- Ghost Rider at Box Office Mojo
- Ghost Rider at Rotten Tomatoes