Many problems lie at the heart of Ghost Rider -- from the writing all the way to the casting, though it's the general blandness of this hour-and-fifty-minute snoozer that ends up being the real kiss of death for audiences. Though eager to shower it with boffo box-office numbers, many audience members will walk out of this movie supremely dissatisfied with the end result. At best, forgiving viewers will rationalize its existence by excusing it as some kind of throwaway "beer and popcorn" movie, though that just reeks of a blind acceptance of this type of big-screen junk. Terribly awful films that end up funny are one thing, but a zero-style paint-by-numbers trip to dullsville is something completely different. Of course, none of this should come as any surprise to anyone who's familiar with director Mark Steven Johnson's previous work on Daredevil, but one would hope that the folks who deal with the system would learn a bit from their mistakes. The good news is that each scene could easily be taken from a comic panel, although there is almost no rhythm to tie it all together in an exciting manner.
Emotionally, the movie is devoid of any weight, while the quirky character work just comes off as unnecessary. Nicolas Cage might have waited decades to bring a big comic character to the big screen, but his depiction of Johnny Blaze feels uneven -- never mind inept -- as can be heard with his on-again/off-again Texas drawl. The stereotypical goth villains are also a letdown, with their cheesy black eye makeup and extra-long trench coats eliciting more eye rolls than sincere dread. Only Peter Fonda and Sam Elliott come out of the wreckage with a bit more face than the rest of the cast, though one senses that they could do this stuff in their sleep. CG effects are impressive, aside from the lame demon-face distortions that flash on top of character's faces for no good reason. Much like the first Fantastic Four film, Ghost Rider will stand as a clear miss on the origin tale, prompting many to hope for better treatments of this comic property in the future.