Tag Archives: 2007

Hannibal Rising (2007) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Sadistic Violence
Cast:
Gaspard Ulliel as Hannibal Lecter
Gong Li as Lady Murasaki
Dominic West as Inspector Pascal Popil
Rhys Ifans as Vladis Grutas
Director: Peter Webber

After witnessing the violent deaths of his parents at the end of World War II, young Hannibal Lecter (Gaspard Ulliel) flees to his uncle’s home in Paris. He learns his uncle is dead, but the man’s mysterious Japanese widow, Lady Murasaki (Gong Li) welcomes him nonetheless. An aptitude for science helps Hannibal gain acceptance to medical school, where he hones the skills he needs to exact revenge for the atrocities he witnessed.

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Hannibal Lecter is an iconic character that has seen many film and tv appearances (his TV version being my favourite). I’ve liked all of the adaptations, even with some the flaws that some of them have (2001’s Hannibal). There is however an exception for Hannibal Rising, which is by far the worst Hannibal adaptation ever. Aside from a couple of aspects of the film (such as the direction, cinematography and Gaspard Ulliel as Young Hannibal Lector), there isn’t much to like about Hannibal Rising. Then again this movie was pretty much dead on arrival, it being based on Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Rising.

You’d think that an origin story about one of fiction’s most iconic serial killers would be at least somewhat interesting. Unfortunately, this movie somehow ends up being tremendously boring. It’s really hard to care about anything that’s going on, not even Hannibal himself (his characterisations was very lacklustre). In fact, this movie fails as an origin story for Hannibal, it doesn’t even show the gradual change into Hannibal the Cannibal, after a flashback with child Hannibal (a significant event for him), it jumps to when he’s an adult. Although throughout the film he goes through some changes (like killing, and liking cannibalism) from the first time you see adult Hannibal, he is already unhinged. You want to know the worst part about the writing? It was written by Hannibal writer Thomas Harris. He adapted his own book and it still was written horribly. Then again, Thomas Harris was forced to write that novel in the first place, so it sort of makes sense why it’s in that state.

Gaspard Ulliel is playing the young Hannibal Lecter, he well with what he has. Performance wise, I can buy him as the younger version of Anthony Hopkins’s Hannibal. However he’s not given a lot of good material to work with. There isn’t any depth given to this Hannibal Lector, he seems more like a movie teen serial killer as opposed to actually Hannibal Lector. The villainous characters are all one dimensionally evil. There’s one of actor who manages to inject some form of humanity into his character but others are less so, most notably Rhys Ifans, who plays an absolute cartoon villain of a character. Some of the other supporting cast are fine but don’t leave a massive impact.

The one thing consistent throughout the Hannibal movies is that they all look great. The production design and cinematography really reflected it’s time period. The violence (as expected) is very bloody and graphic but it is better handled than in Hannibal (the 2001 movie of course), it didn’t feel as gratuitous. The score also, really good.

Hannibal Rising is hands down the worst Hannibal Lecter movie ever. The bad writing, boring story and hit or miss performances make Hannibal Rising a chore to sit through. The best parts of the movie was Gaspard Ulliel as Hannibal and the cinematography of the film. That’s really the only good things about this movie unfortunately. To be fair this movie was dead on arrival, they had to adapt Hannibal Rising, it’s difficult to imagine that book being adapted into a good movie.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) Review

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Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains low level violence.
Cast:
Ioan Gruffudd as Dr. Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic
Jessica Alba as Sue Storm/Invisible Woman
Chris Evans as Johnny Storm/Human Torch
Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm/The Thing
Doug Jones as Norrin Radd/Silver Surfer
Laurence Fishburne as the voice of the Silver Surfer
Julian McMahon as Dr. Victor Von Doom/Doctor Doom
Kerry Washington as Alicia Masters
Beau Garrett as Captain Frankie Raye
Vanessa Minnillo as Julie Angel
Andre Braugher as General Hager
Director: Tim Story

Reed (Ioan Gruffudd), Susan (Jessica Alba), Johnny (Chris Evans) and Ben (Michael Chiklis) face an intergalactic messenger who has arrived to prepare Earth for its destruction. While the enigmatic being wreaks havoc around the world, the heroic quartet must also contend with the unexpected return of their enemy, Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon).

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Fantastic Four was not a hit critically so it was a surprise that a couple years later a sequel would come out. When it comes to this movie as a sequel, some see it as an improvement, others see it as a step down, I’m personally in the latter category. Not only did the sequel not improve many of the aspects, it made even more mistakes. The first half is borderline atrocious and the second half is mildly enjoyable but still not good. I’m surprised that they managed to make a worse Fantastic Four movie since the original.

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The first half of the movie is absolutely terrible. It focuses on uninteresting aspects, especially around the wedding of Reed and Sue. This first half could pretty much be titled First World Superhero Problems: The Motion Picture or Keeping up with the Fantastics. This sequence was so uninteresting and annoying, it was such a pain to sit through. It’s difficult to care about the characters, which makes it worse. Also the very cheesy moments in the first film, there’s more of that here. There is a dance scene involving Reed Richards and it is worse than the dancing scene in Spiderman 3. I will say that the second half of the movie is better, still not good though. The second half has a lot more action (the action in this movie being okay). However there are still a lot of aspects of this film which are terrible. Galactus is a cloud (which really isn’t accurate to the comics at all). To make matters worse, both the Silver Surfer and Galactus aren’t really the main villains in the final act, it’s Doctor Doom again.

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The acting is about as good/bad as the previous movie. Ioan Gruffudd is fine but unmemorable and boring, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis were some of the best parts of the film and Jessica Alba was…. yet again Jessica Alba (still the biggest miscasting I’ve seen in a comic book movie). In all fairness, Julian McMahon as Victor von Doom is actually pretty good casting. The writing was bad for the character and from what I can tell, is nothing like the comic book character. The best part of the film is the Silver Surfer with Doug Jones playing him and Laurence Fishburne providing the voice. It’s not accurate to the comics but he definitely made an impression in the movie.

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The special effects of Rise of the Silver Surfer aren’t as bad as the effects in the previous movie but they still aren’t good either. The fire effects and shield effects for Johnny Storm and Sue Storm were good enough. Reed Richards’s stretch ability were better than in the previous movie. The Silver Surfer visual effects were pretty good. As I said, the last half of the movie is better and is more enjoyable as it has a lot more action and it is entertaining enough to watch, even if it isn’t great. The music is fine.

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I know that Fant4stic gets a lot more criticism but I find Rise of the Silver Surfer to be the worst Fantastic Four movie. This is a sequel, and Fox and Tim Story should’ve learned from the previous movie. This film made many of the main mistakes that the first film made. What we get instead was a film with an awful first half surrounding a wedding and was just completely annoying, the second half while enjoyable wasn’t anything special. Overall this movie was just terrible, and is for me the worst Fantastic Four movie.

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) Review

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The Bourne Ultimatum

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne
Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons
David Strathairn as Noah Vosen
Scott Glenn as Ezra Kramer
Paddy Considine as Simon Ross
Édgar Ramírez as Paz
Albert Finney as Dr. Albert Hirsch
Joan Allen as Pamela “Pam” Landy
Director: Paul Greengrass

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) continues his international quest to uncover his true identity. From Russia to Europe to northern Africa to the United States, he must stay one step ahead of those who would capture or kill him before he has a chance to discover the truth.

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The Bourne Ultimatum is quite possibly the best film of the Bourne franchise. Like with the other films of the trilogy they are quite similar, regarding the action, acting story, etc. However I personally feel like this is the strongest out of the films by a little bit, maybe it’s just my personal preference. Imagine if Bourne Supremacy if it was a full on action movie and the issues with the shaky cam in that film were dealt with. This third instalment makes the Bourne trilogy one of the best film trilogies.

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This film is quite similar to the previous Bourne movies. So chances are, if you didn’t like the previous Bourne movies, you won’t like this one. Whereas Bourne Identity is a mystery movie and Bourne Supremacy is a thriller, Bourne Ultimatum is the best action movie out of all of them. This movie’s pace is quite fast, and doesn’t slow down a lot, even the smaller character moments or moments of dialogue feel like they progress the plot, in a good way. There is no moment that feels unnecessary or wasted. There is no pointless romance thrown into the movie just because, even when Damon is paired with Julia Stiles, the film doesn’t waste time on any romance. Greengrass also did well to never drop the tension throughout the film. The conclusion was also great and satisfying, when we find out what happened with Jason Bourne and why and how he became an assassin.

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Matt Damon is once again excellent in the role of Jason Bourne. He continues to be believable as this assassin whether he’s in action scenes or the fewer smaller moments. The supporting cast also are great. In the previous film Joan Allen was trying to hunt down Bourne with Brian Cox, both with different reasons. Joan Allen returns to her same role in the movie, along with David Stratharin, who’s also trying to find Jason Bourne. Both of them are truly great in the movie. Other actors like Julia Stiles, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine, Edgar Ramirez and Albert Finney are also great in their roles.

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In the Bourne Supremacy, while for the most part the shaky cam was handled well, there were a couple scenes which weren’t handled the best. Greengrass doesn’t have any of those moments in Ultimatum. I can’t think of any moment in this film that didn’t work. As I said, this is the best action movie out of the three Bourne films. This has a wide variety of action scenes, there’s motorbike chases, foot chases, car chases, fight scenes, you name it. Speaking of fight scenes, there is a brutal fight between Jason and a character named Desh which is the best fight in the series yet and is one of the best scenes in the franchise yet. Greengrass massively improved the way he shot his fight scenes since Supremacy.

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The Bourne Ultimatum is truly a great Bourne movie, with its fast paced yet well filmed action, excellent acting from its talented cast and well told story. Even though as I said many times this is very similar to the other movies in the series, this might actually be my favourite film in the series. We’ll just have to see if Jason Bourne this year can top what they did with The Bourne Ultimatum. It won’t be an easy task though.

Shoot ‘Em Up (2007) Review

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Shoot Em Up

Time: 86 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence, Offensive Language and Sex Scenes
Cast:
Clive Owen as Mr. Smith
Paul Giamatti as Karl Hertz
Monica Bellucci as Donna “D.Q.” Quintano
Stephen McHattie as Hammerson
Director: Michael Davis

In the middle of the night, while waiting for a bus in a bus station, a lonely stranger called Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) sees a pregnant woman being chased by a man with a gun. He follows the couple, kills the man and helps the delivery of the baby in the middle of a shootout while a gang of hit-man tries to shoot them up. The woman is killed but Smith saves the baby, escaping from Hertz (Paul Giamatti), the leader of the killers. Then he meets the prostitute Donna Quintano (Monica Bellucci), who has just lost her baby, and asks her to breastfeed the newborn. They are chased by Hertz and Smith discovers the reason why the bad guy wants to kill the baby.

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Shoot Em Up gets everything right in what it sets out to do – to be an over the top, silly and highly entertaining movie. If you are looking for strong, realistic stories, this isn’t going to be your thing. However, if you are willing to suspend your disbelief and able to accept that you are watching an unbelievably ridiculous movie, there’s a chance that you may end up loving it, I know I did.

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The pacing is right for the movie it’s going for – it starts with a bang and doesn’t stop. Even during scenes which are slower, they aren’t so slow that they lose our attention. These scenes also allow us time to breathe after the exhilarating action scenes, without taking us out of the experience. I’m also glad that the filmmakers also know what sort of movie it is and embraces it, without adding some needless drama which could really take us out of the experience. The plot isn’t really worth focussing on, it’s quite simple anyway: Clive Owen protects a baby from bad guys. The film is also set at the right length, 86 minutes – it doesn’t overstay its welcome and gets all its entertaining parts in the right amount of time. There’s one flaw that I noticed, until near the end, Clive Owen is never outmatched and is always on top of things, which is something that a lot of bad action movies nowadays have. I’m however willing to let this slide, as it isn’t supposed to be taken seriously, whereas a movie like Lucy (which is meant to be taken more seriously), isn’t excused.

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Clive Owen is well suited to the part to play this brooding character but he’s played in an entertaining way, and he doesn’t take it too seriously. He is quite funny actually, especially with his often cheesy one liners (like putting a carrot through someone’s head and saying “Eat your vegetables”). Paul Giamatti is very entertaining as the villain, it just looks like that he’s having a ball playing this over the top character. Monica Bellucci was also pretty good in her role, and fitted in well with what was going on.

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The action scenes are fast paced and don’t hold back in its violence or how over the top it is. The majority of the action scenes are unrealistic, the first death scene involves Clive Owen punching a carrot into someone’s head through their mouth and it just escalates from there. The action scenes are well done for the type of action that they’re going for. The only scene that didn’t feel good was when Clive Owen and other characters are falling out of an airplane, some it looked good but the CGI at time didn’t feel right.

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Shoot Em Up is probably not for everyone, especially if you can’t handle how unrealistic the movie can take its direction sometimes. This movie at least for me, is one of the best over the top action movies I’ve ever seen and I was thoroughly entertained throughout the entire runtime. If you are an action flick fanatic, you should definitely check this one out, you won’t regret it.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) Review

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Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Benjamin Barker/Sweeney Todd
Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett
Alan Rickman as Judge Turpin
Timothy Spall as Beadle Bamford
Jayne Wisener as Johanna Barker
Sacha Baron Cohen as Adolfo Pirelli
Laura Michelle Kelly as Lucy Barker/Beggar Woman
Jamie Campbell Bower as Anthony Hope
Ed Sanders as Tobias Ragg
Director: Tim Burton

After years in exile for a crime he didn’t commit, Benjamin Barker, now Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) returns to London to find his wife dead and his daughter Johanna (Jaine Wisener) in the hands of the evil Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman). Sweeney relocates his barber business to the top of Mrs. Lovett’s (Helena Bonham Carter) pie shop. Todd wants revenge and works with Mrs Lovett by killing the unsuspecting public while giving them a shave; the bodies are turned into Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies. With the plan being successful, all Todd needs to do is convince the Judge to sit in his chair.

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Tim Burton can do some good adaptations (Batman) but recently some of his recent adaptations haven’t impressed me (Willy Wonka). However that is not the case with Sweeney Todd. It is the right type of material that’s suited to him; it’s dark and bloody and Burton successfully adapted it for the big screen, respecting and representing the source material perfectly. This is added to the acting and direction which is great and furthers the movie even more.

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If you don‘t know already, this film is adapted from Sweeney Todd, a musical about Sweeney Todd, this is the first time I ever seen any version of Sweeney Todd in any form of media. One thing that is notable is that unlike most musicals in which nearly all of the dialogue is singing, Sweeney Todd has 75% of the dialogue involving singing. Fortunately the dialogue is well written for these characters and doesn’t feel inconsistent when the actors switch to just talking. I think my favourite song in the movie is between ‘Pretty Women’ and ‘Epiphany’. Both of these songs are done perfectly, with the acting, singing and the directing. This film also has a consistent dark comedic tone throughout, especially with the gallons of blood spilt.

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Johnny Depp is great as Sweeney Todd and embodies his character completely, never slipping out of character once. Also great was Helena Bonham Carter; the chemistry between Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter was great, it wasn’t just how they were in other Burton movies, here it feels genuine and fresh. Also good was the supporting cast. Alan Rickman was deliciously evil and was really good in his role, as is the case with Timothy Spall. Sacha Baron Cohen also steals the few scenes that he’s in. All the actors do a great job, particularly with the singing.

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The production design of this movie is really good; it really shows the town being really dark. Tim Burton has a great sense of colours and uses the right colours for the right moments, most of the time they are dark. One thing should be noted is the blood, when a character is killed there is so much blood I wonder if Quentin Tarantino was involved in those scenes, it was almost darkly comedic; I’m pretty sure it was meant for it to be like this. The score was also really well made, accompanied by the voices of actors who could sing. All of the songs are sung and directed perfectly, with none of them being weak.

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Tim Burton’s take on Sweeney Todd shows once again that he can do adaptations, just as long as he’s given the right source material. His direction along with the acting and singing makes for one of the best movie musicals I’ve seen (even though I haven’t seen many). If you love the musical, chances are you will be satisfied with how it turned out. As a person who doesn’t usually watch musicals I was pleasantly surprised.

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Tale (2007) Review

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In the Name of the King 1; A Dungeon Siege Tale

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Jason Statham as Farmer
Leelee Sobieski as Muriella
John Rhys-Davies as Merick
Ron Perlman as Norick
Claire Forlani as Solana
Kristanna Loken as Elora
Matthew Lillard as Duke Fallow
Ray Liotta as Gallian
Burt Reynolds as King Konreid
Brian White as Commander Tarish
Mike Dopud as General Backler
Will Sanderson as Basstian
Tania Saulnier as Talwyn
Gabrielle Rose as Delinda
Terence Kelly as Trumaine
Colin Ford as Zeph
Director: Uwe Boll

A farmer (Jason Statham) sets out to rescue his kidnapped wife (Claire Forlani) and avenge the death of his son — two acts committed by the Krugs, a race of animal-warriors who are controlled by the evil Gallian (Ray Liotta).

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I wasn’t expecting anything when I was going into this movie, Uwe Boll’s first two Bloodrayne movies caused me to have this feeling. For an Uwe Boll movie though, it isn’t as bad as Bloodrayne 2; the movie does have at times decent action scenes. However this movie still wasn’t good on its own, it still has a bad story, average to terrible acting along with having a lot of things from Lord of the Rings which did bother me from time to time.

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The story doesn’t have anything interesting to offer, made worse with the movie being 2 hours long, it should’ve been shorter. The first act was set up poorly with characters that I didn’t feel attached to, not helping this is the dialogue which is poorly written, uninteresting and doesn’t further develop the characters. This may be an aside but Statham’s character is literally called Farmer. The most boring part of the movie was the second act, there wasn’t much going on. The third act was the most entertaining and had a whole lot of action scenes which were done okay but they didn’t have much story to link them together to make them interesting. The film has many plot holes, like in one of the final fights with Jason Statham and Ray Liotta, Liotta doesn’t use his magic at the beginning, despite being able to get rid of him in an instant. This movie also took a lot of things from Lord of the Rings, for example the last big battle scene was very similar to the Helms Deep scene from The Two Towers. Even the Krugs seemed very much like the Orcs. The writer of this movie actually rewrote 80% of the script because it felt too much like Lord of the Rings, it’s not just me finding it familiar.

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This film has a good cast, none of whom brings much to the movie. Jason Statham doesn’t make much of an impression here, he’s much better in other movies but I will say that he does well in the action scenes, as he usually does. Ron Perlman gives the best performance in the movie, he’s one of those actors who can bring anything to a movie but unfortunately his character still wasn’t given any depth or attention. Burt Reynolds is for some reason in this movie but he just didn’t bring anything to the movie; he looks like he doesn’t want to be there and is quite underwhelming and boring. On the complete other end from acting bored is Ray Liotta who plays the villain and is completely over the top. If you’ve seen the two Bloodrayne movies, you know that Uwe Boll doesn’t know how to direct actors in playing villains. A prime example is when Liotta shares a scene with Matthew Lillard, it’s like they are competing in a ‘worst performance’ competition.

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The action scenes in the first act of the movie are done poorly, the camera shook and cut often and they aren’t filmed well. Later on the action scenes improved, the camera didn’t cut and it was steady, however they weren’t very interesting or entertaining, they were just okay.

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I will say that this movie is better than some of Uwe Boll’s other movies but this is still a bad movie. It has the many things that Uwe Boll movies have, bad acting, poor writing, average cinematography and has many plot holes, on top of feeling too much like Lord of the Rings. In short, the movie is a poor man’s Lord of the Rings, it’s the best way to describe it. I heard that Uwe Boll made a good movie, Rampage, I would really like to see it sometime; I need to take a break from his movies.

Ghost Rider (2007) Review

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Ghost Rider

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider
Eva Mendes as Roxanne Simpson
Peter Fonda as Mephistopheles
Wes Bentley as Blackheart
Sam Elliot as Caretaker
Director: Mark Steven Johnson

In order to save his dying father, young stunt cyclist Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) sells his soul to Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda) and parts from the pure-hearted Roxanne Simpson (Eva Mendes), the love of his life. Years later, Johnny’s path crosses again with Roxanne, now a reporter, and also with Mephistopheles, who offers to release Johnny’s soul if Johnny becomes the fabled, fiery Ghost Rider, a supernatural agent of vengeance and justice. Mephistopheles charges Johnny with defeating Blackheart (Wes Bentley), Mephistopheles’s nemesis and son, who plans to displace his father and create a new hell even more terrible than the old one.

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Ghost Rider has been called a terrible movie and one of the worst comic book movies and although I found some good elements in it, I don’t think it’s a good movie. The acting isn’t that special and the story isn’t interesting or anything special either. What does save it from being completely dull are the Ghost Rider scenes which are entertaining enough to warrant me calling this a guilty pleasure.

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I really wasn’t that interested in the story plot and what was going on. I would’ve liked to see Ghost Rider more in the movie because his scenes are the best in the entire movie, apart from his dialogue not being written that well, mostly consists of one liners. Unfortunately, Johnny turns into the Ghost Rider for the first time 40 minutes in; he should’ve been introduced earlier. There is also a romance between Johnny and Roxanne but it just feels unnecessary, forced and not done that well. Another problem was that none of the villains seem to do many threatening things, nor did they seem to have that much power, even Peter Fonda’s character doesn’t seem to have that much power. The henchmen were even worse, only posing a threat to Ghost Rider for a little moment before being defeated. If you are planning to see Ghost Rider, don’t see it for its story as it’s not that good.

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Nicolas Cage is in this movie and he’s usually most known for being very over the top in his acting, however here, he keeps it subdued, with the exception of a few scenes. Unfortunately he was a little boring and wasn’t very memorable. If Cage had more over the top moments it would at least make his performance more entertaining. Eva Mendes was okay in this movie but I didn’t find her very memorable and I didn’t personally find any chemistry between Cage and Mendes, which doesn’t help as the romance wasn’t even written well to begin with. Wes Bentley plays the villain of this movie, and is unfortunately one dimensional, so he doesn’t feel that dangerous. Peter Fonda and Sam Elliot gave the best performances in the movie, they weren’t anything that great but they were good enough.

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The cinematography was okay for me. Like I said earlier, I liked watching Ghost Rider when he was on screen; something about the look of him makes it great to watch. One of the best scenes in the movie involved Ghost Rider and the song “Ghost Riders in the Sky”.

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Some have called Ghost Rider one of the worst comic book movies of all time; even though it’s definitely not a good movie, it’s nowhere the level of Catwoman or Batman and Robin. There are also some enjoyable moments whether it may be of Cage or the actual Ghost Rider that has made this movie a slight guilty pleasure for me. From what I’ve heard, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is worse; I’ll just have to take a look at it for myself. Overall, Ghost Rider is not terrible but it’s not that good either.