Christmas came a bit early this year as Sony invited some of us press peeps to check out about 25 minutes of footage from 'Ghost Rider.' The time: One unseasonably chilly LA evening not too long ago. The place: Hollywood Cemetery. The who: Director Mark Steven Johnson with stars Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes. The how: pretty freakin' awesome.
So what did we see? An extended scene of Johnny Blaze (Cage) getting called up by Satan (a.k.a. Mephisto, Peter Fonda) to do his nightly dirty work. Blaze tears down city streets on his increasingly fiery chopper. He then wipes out and both he and his bike go thru a grisly transformation into skullified fury. Is "skullified" a word? We also saw a scene where Johnny tries to tell hottie Roxanne Simpson (Mendes) that he becomes Satan's minion after dark. That doesn't go over too well with Eva. The coolest part was an action scene where the Ghost Rider battles both a wind demon and a police helicopter on a skyscraper rooftop. Weilding a flaming chain, Ghostie takes care of both then drives down the side of the building on his bike. He later joins forces with Sam Elliott as the Caretaker. There was a trailer too, but you get the gist -- lots of geek-friendly fare fer sure.
Now I've been as skeptical as the next geek about 'Ghost Rider,' like I am about any project that bounces around different studios for years on end. Not only that, but Cage's name was being thrown around to play the likes of Superman, Batman or the Green Goblin the whole time. So yeah, there's a lot of history here, and history isn't always a good thing when it comes to bringing a comic book to screen -- just look at what's happening with 'Wonder Woman.' But I gotta say, the footage impressed me, and I think mostly because the effects were over-the-top cool and Nic Cage was obviously having so much fun. During the transformation scene -- which just goes on and on, in a good way -- Cage's boots leave fiery footprints as his flesh is slowly melted away by flames, until all that's left of him is the skull above. Cage even does his whole crazy-eyed thing a-la 'Wild at Heart,' which is always fun.