Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ghost Rider

The superhero movie season has begun and the number one film for the weekend, and in fact the highest grossing movie of the new year:
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With an estimated opening of about $45 million, the film proves that critics don't know anything about anything! Like FANTASTIC FOUR, this film has proved to be a huge hit with audiences (the people who actually pay to go see movies!).

When I was a kid, Ghost Rider was one of the books that I really dug. A demon biker with a flaming skull head?! Bring it on, baby! Ghost Rider was one of that second wave of superheroes that came about in the 1970s, what Stan Lee called "The Marvel Age of Comics, Phase 2!". Created by Roy Thomas, Gary Freidrich and artist Mike Ploog, ol fire-skull was one of the haunted Marvel heroes who was part monster/part tragic hero. Appearing in the same era as Man-Thing, Morbius the Living Vampire and Werewolf by Night, Ghost Rider was definitely a product of his era: satanism and bikers.

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I enjoyed the film so much on Saturday evening, that this morning after my daily walk I stopped by a local theatre and checked out a matinee screening! Yeesh! The film was written/directed by Mark Steven Johnson, who I thought succeeded with his previous adaptation, DAREDEVIL. His script for this film really did a good job of tying in several incarnations of Ghost Rider. I won't detail the story too much in case you haven't seen it yet, but the character's orgin from his original 1972 appearance appears pretty much intact. I haven't really read much Ghost Rider in the last 20 years or so (Jeez!!!) but I felt the film delivered the Ghost Rider I remember. And what a classic design! Ghost Rider's look and attitude probably sold a ton of tickets alone!

While occasionally the film forced some of the actors to mouth some cliched lines (mainly the villians), I rationalize the fact that the source material the film draws on was corny back when they were created. However, I didn't complain back then as a 10 yr. old, so for me I look at these type of films without too critical an eye. Of course, at the very least, the story has to be solid, but otherwise, let's let the superheroes and supervillians act accordingly. I seem to enjoy my Marvel superheroes way more from filmmakers nowadays than in the actual monthly titles (which I pretty much dropped out of by 1990, with occasional exceptions). To think back in the 70s if we were told there would one day be a big Hollywood Ghost Rider movie....

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Watching the film, with it's supernatural storyline, Good vs. Evil spiritual warfare, a black-clad cursed hero, and a graveyard caretaker, I couldn't help but think of the Muerto movie. Contrasting our independant film based on my independent comic, Ghost Rider was a full-blown studio film, with over $100 million in budget, but interestingly began filming the day we shot our last day of El Muerto principal photography: Feb. 14, 2005 (according to the Wikipedia entry) Pretty crazy coincidence. A quick note on El Muerto: I'm currently awaiting word from my producer about the distribution plan for our film. Of course I'll be posting the news here when it breaks!

After last night's screening of Ghost Rider, me and my lady Bernyce stopped by a Denny's for a late-night Banana Split. Over the delicious dessert, I pulled out my sketchbook and asked her for a Ghost Rider drawing. And yeah, she drew the original Johnny Blaze version! Nice!
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I doodled up a quickie version of the movie Ghost Rider.
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I gotta tell all the guys out there: ain't nothing sexier than a woman who can draw a classic superhero! Well, let's wait for the Ghost Rider sequel and the long-awaited release of EL MUERTO!

1 comment:

Jason Martin said...

Ha ha!
Good to hear ya enjoyed it, coming from a Marvel purist like you, that's high praise indeed!

I'm definitely catching a matinee tomorrow Mr Man.

And yeah, you mention the director, and his previous turn on the DD flick. Gotta tell ya, that's one of my favorite comic book movies. I don't understand why the fans were so brutal on it. For my money, it had the best comic book vibe on the screen... so, I held out hope for Ghost Rider.

We shall soon see...

BTW, great sketches.
You are indeed a lucky fella to have a lady with such super powers!
I really dig your take on him too!