Ghost Rider is all the rage on Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD this season, and fans have praised Gabriel Luna's performance as the character.
What fans haven't praised, however, is Nicholas Cage's take on the Spirit Of Vengeance in his two Ghost Rider films. Let's be real, everyone has hated those movies since they were released.
Ghost Rider hit theaters in 2007 and received disdain from critics everywhere. The film holds a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a 5.2 on IMDb, and a mere 35 on Metcritic.
The sequel, Spirit Of Vengeance, was even more poorly received. The Ghost Rider follow-up garnered a 17%, 4.3, and 32 respectively.
Now that some time has passed, and a new iteration of the character is finally on-screen, it's time to ask:
Was Nicholas Cage's Ghost Rider really that bad?
You may not like this answer, but no, it certainly wasn't.
The movie wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination; it definitely came with a few flaws. You could say that Cage overacted quite a bit, and that's not exactly a stretch. The dialogue was a little cheesy for some tastes, and the action felt too fake and computer-generated.
Those arguments are valid, without a doubt, but did they take away from the film? Were they enough to make it "bad"?
Cage has always been known to go over the top. Even in his best roles (National Treasure, Raising Arizona, Leaving Las Vegas) he went a little overboard.
You wanna know something? This is why we all love to watch Nick Cage! He goes further than any other actor would, and that is exactly the reason he got the role.
Ghost Rider is a strange concept for a film, so you need a strange actor to make it accessible. By letting Cage do his thing with the role, audience members were able to keep a lighter attitude while watching the movie. It was acually a smart move by the filmmakers.
Furthermore, this adaptation of the character was much more accurate to the source material than people give it credit for. Johnny Blaze's backstory in the movie was a carbon copy of the books, and true comic fans appreciated the effort. Everything from Johnny's style to his bike were accurate to the comic stories of old, and the strange antics of Cage's depiction felt honest to the original iteration of the pulp icon.
The writers were heavily blamed for the "failed" effort of the first Ghost Rider film, but did they really do that bad of a job? Yes, the dialogue was a little on the cheesy side, but that was the style of comic book films at the time. Even the critically acclaimed efforts like Spider-Man and X-Men were chock full of bad jokes and forced Easter Eggs. Until Iron Man would release in 2008, this was the standard of the genre.
In terms of story arc, Ghost Rider did a great job of pacing from one scene to the next. The plot made sense from start to finish, which is something many super hero films are bashed for. The final battle may have been a tad anti-climactic, but the writers got through it without many mistakes.
That leads us to the action of the film which, yes, feels outdated in 2016. But, back in 2007, how else were you going to turn a man into a flaming skull on a motorcylce? The only way the effects team from Ghost Rider could have any better, is to have waited another eight years to make the movie.
The highlight of this film, as well as its 2011 sequel, was its use of secondary characters. Say what you want about Nicholas Cage as Johnny Blaze, but the supporting cast of this franchise carried it to another level.
Donal Logue has been a fantastic actor on TV for years, and he brought that talent to the Ghost Rider film. His take on Blaze's best friend carried enough emotion and wit to the movie to make it worth watching more than once. Eva Mendes also gave a phenomenal performance as the love interest in the film.
Celebrated actor Idris Elba, and Hunger Games alum Wes Bentley, played the villains in the two films, and both came off as more menacing than most villains in the ever-popular Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sam Elliott was the shining star of both movies, and watching his character turn to brimstone on horseback is worth every penny you paid for your ticket.
Everything about these movies was average, at worst. Many aspects, acting inculded, were much more exceptional than they were given credit for. Cage brought his unique personality to the film, while writer/director Mark Steven Johnson hauled in his one-of-a-kind style, and the two combined for a wonderful viewing experience that we aren't likely to see again.
Not since Evil Dead did a director and actor team up to make such a wonderfully twisted experience, and they will both be remembered as films that only got more entertaining with age.
Give Ghost Rider another watch sometime, and there's a solid chance you will change your mind by the end.