movie buff

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 February, 2007, 12:00am


Director: Mark Steven Johnson

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Wes Bentley

Prelude: Ghost Rider is a supernatural character from Marvel Comics. Originally a villain in Daredevil, the character had his own series from 1973 to 1983.

The movie stars Cage as John Blaze, the first Ghost Rider of the comic series. Blaze appears as a supporting character in the second Ghost Rider comic series from 1990 to 1998, which features another devilish rider who turns out to be Blaze's brother.

In 2001, a six-part comic miniseries brings Blaze back to the spotlight.

The story: As a motorcycle stuntman, Blaze sells his soul to the devil, or to be precise, a demon known as Mephisto, who claims to be Satan. But he does it for a very sweet reason: to save the life of his biking-partner dad.

The deal means that every time he bonds with another demon called Zarathos, he turns into a leather-clad skeleton biker with a fiery skull. He looks scary rather than cool. But he has the rather cool benefits of a burning motorcycle and the ability to shoot hellfire - a kind of fire that burns the soul instead of the body.

Why bother: The film was trashed by critics but did very well at the box office: the definition of a popcorn movie.

The star: Given that Cage is at his best when playing dark and twisted characters, the role of John Blaze should suit him well, given the character's tortured mind and anti-hero tendencies.

The actor - an avid comic reader whose assumed surname is inspired by a Marvel Comics character, 'Power Man' Luke Cage - even has the tattoo of Ghost Rider on his body.

Despite being the nephew of famous director Francis Ford Coppola, the actor frequently takes part in low-budget and non-mainstream productions such as the romantic drama Leaving Las Vegas (1995) and Martin Scorsese's Bringing out the Dead (1999).

He is also a commercial action star, playing cool roles in John Woo's Face/Off (1997) and Michael Bay's The Rock (1996).

One of his best performances is in Oliver Stone's largely underrated World Trade Center (2006), in which he plays a Port Authority officer trapped underneath the collapsed Twin Towers for 13 hours before rescue.

Cage brings to his character a macho quality, combined with a sensitivity that shows the courage and dignity of ordinary man amid extraordinary circumstances.