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Underrated: Ghost Rider (The Movie)

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Ghost Rider



Robbie Reyes in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel’s Agents. Of S.H.I.E.L.D. recently brought Robbie Reyes to our screens as the latest Ghost Rider in the first half of the current season. It was easily one of the highlights of the fall 2016 television schedule for me, and with the show returning this week to our screens without Reyes (as far as I know – as of this writing I haven’t seen the mid-season premier yet), I felt it was time to rewatch Ghost Rider.

I did it for you, folks.

So you may be wondering why I wanted to focus on another critically panned movie, and while part of it is because I never hated the flick when I saw it in the theater the first (and only) time I watched it, despite the panning it received from fans and critics alike.  We’ve all heard how the movie’s bloody terrible, that your time would be better spent watching paint dry, but is Ghost Rider really as bad as you remember it being?

Once you get past the fact this Ghost Rider movie is about a man possessed by a demon with a flaming skull, that just happens to share several surface similarities to a Marvel comic book, then the movie isn’t bad. It’s not great. Before you start yelling at me for writing a column about why the worst reviewed Fantastic Four movie doesn’t entirely suck, I’m not saying the movie is the best thing since sliced bread. It’s not. But it is unfairly shit on by so many of us, and that’s the whole point of Underrated.

moviegrLook, I’m not going to sit here and claim this is a fantastic movie, because it’s not. But if you go in with either an open mind or expectations that are lower than the Marianas Trench, then you’ll find something to enjoy. Nicolas Cage isn’t on top form here but he’s clearly enjoying the role, and treats the B-movie script with the respect it deserves when we see him on screen. It’s not one of his best movies, but I’ve seldom seen him give as entertaining a performance as he does in this movie, even if his characterization may not be on point given what fans of the character expect (even with my admittedly limited knowledge of Ghost Rider comics, it didn’t seem to jive too well).

But the thing is, despite the movies flaws (the wasted conclusion for Carter Slade’s story is a prime example) it’s a good turn-your-brain-off movie. 

Ghost Rider plays like a modern day interpretation of a 50’s Western comic set this century on the screen. Not necessarily a Western movie mind you, but because I don’t recall many Western movies being as silly as Ghost Rider, but comics? I don’t hear many people taking Western comics set in the 50’s seriously at all (that’s not to say they were overly silly, however, just that I don’t hear of many people thinking of them that way). Once you forget this is a movie about the Marvel Comics character Ghost Rider, this isn’t that bad.

And that’s why this movie is Underrated