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This combines two different kinds of awful movies.

The Mask comic from Dark Horse is pretty cool…and little like the movies.

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In the comics, the Mask is known only as Big Head, and he leans towards the homicidal. That might not have been viable as a big budget film (even though it was initially developed with a LOT more horror in the mix. Casting Jim Carrey changed the tone of the project a lot. Carrey got to imitate the cartoon characters he’d grown up watching.

But when it came for a sequel, he just didn’t see the point. Jim Carrey didn’t see enough depth in the role to do it. That’s like Bree Olsen turning down an acting role because she finds it sexually demeaning.

After 11 years in development hell, they released a cheap sequel that no one wanted. They made it even more ‘family-friendly’ than the original.

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What they forgot is that children are still kind of smart. Even babies are smart. An embryo is too smart for this movie. This is a stupid, dull movie, filled with very cheap gags and horrible slapstick. Loki wants the mask back, Traylor Howard wants kids, the little kid gets the mask, Odin yells a lot, stuff with the dog – ugh.

There is a credited writer, and he didn’t work for the next seven years. When he resurfaced from The Pit (the secret is…you must climb without the rope) he worked on a project called Bra League, and something about NASCAR. I don’t believe a human being wrote this though. I think this is like Videodrome and its something the government created to weed out societies undesirables, but it didn’t work because no one would watch it.

But I mentioned two things. Some movies are so bad, they ruin the actor’s career forever because they bring up some quality that you hadn’t noticed but now you can’t see past it. Jamie Kennedy is grating man-child and ever since watching this, that’s all I can see.

Don’t watch this film. Please.

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The experience is of sitting through a bad movie can be pretty dreadful, but you can learn a lot from watching terrible films. If you are interested in becoming an actor, they can show you what a bad performance looks like. If you are a comics fan, you can learn which producers and directors will make films you want to see versus films you should avoid. And, in some rare and exceptional cases, a terrible film can help you trace the exact points of a once great actor’s decline.

This is the story of the Ghost Rider... franchise.

This is the story of the Ghost Rider.

The first Ghost Rider film had some pretty bad-ass moments, but they were completely relegated to scenes where Johnny Blaze changes into the Rider and rides around town.

But the action sequences were super underwhelming, with the villains outmatched so quickly that you never get the sense they were a threat at all. Additionally, the other effects in the film are downright cheesy, to the point where it seems the effects budget only covered flames.

The performances are also underwhelming, from Sam Elliot and Peter Fonda completely phoning it in, to Eva Mendes being dull and unconvincing, and Matt Long and Donal Logue being …. bad. To Mendes’ credit, she didn’t even attempt the western twang called for from the character; to Logue’s discredit, he did.

Wes Bentley as Blackheart is cartoonish and terrible, and he seems more like a whiney brat than a terrifying presence, no matter how hard he tries to be creepy.

Boogedy- boogedy boo!

Boogedy-boogedy-boo!

A major part of why Ghost Rider doesn’t work is the characterization of Johnny Blaze. The Ghost Rider mythos isn’t one of the strongest Marvel has, but there is enough of a skeleton (sorry) there to create a cool drifter-type loner story, a story of a man attempting to deal with his demons (again, sorry).

Instead, they went with a typical origin story hero setup that we’ve all seen a million times, and sucked any originality out of what could have been an interesting story in favor of cool, yet purposeless set pieces.

Equally baffling is Nicholas Cage’s performance, which is filled with weird quirks and over the top camp in some places, and dull disinterested mumbling in others. It’s not one of his worst performances –  that goes to The Wicker Man – but it is one of the earliest examples of a man who created such complex and interesting characters in his early films beginning what would be a rapid and hilarious descent into madness. Cage’s charismatic and slightly unhinged persona would soon become completely unhinged, and any attempts at subtlety in his performances would soon be riddled with bullets, tossed from a burning building, and run over by a truck.

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When this film came out, I was forced to wonder whether or not it could have been salvaged if Cage had not underplayed it, if he had brought some of his trademark lunacy to the role.
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Unfortunately for all of us, we would soon find out.

To be continued………

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