Ghost Rider

 
(i)

 

Devilish Nic Cage action flick isn't on fire.
  • Review Date: June 11, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 114 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Johnny sells his soul to the devil and regrets it; demons wreak havoc; bad guys die; cops are inept.

Positive role models

Johnny did sell his soul to the devil for a noble reason: to save his dad from dying of terminal cancer. But his current murdering vigilante persona is not something to emulate. His TV reporter love interest Roxanne, his childhood sweetheart, is innocent, and they look out for each other. The Carertaker acts as a protective mentor to Johnny.

Violence

Constant cartoonish violence, mayhem, and stunts. Johnny's father dies in a motorcycle stunt; Johnny falls off his motorcycle; the devil torments him with a "burning finger" one motorcycle jump results in a brutal crash; Blackheart kills several humans by turning their faces gray and crumbly; fights between Blackheart's gang and Johnny feature violent falls, throws against walls, and slams; as the Ghost Rider, Johnny is frequently on fire (his skull face is creepy); Ghost Rider attacks and kills a mugger, who stabs him with a knife (Caretaker stitches the wound in close-up); policemen shoot repeatedly at Ghost Rider, who absorbs bullets and rides away; Ghost Rider uses a chain to whip, capture, and throw victims (demons); Johnny fights a watery demon underwater; Johnny and Blackheart fight (lots of throwing, grunting, crawling); Blackheart throws Roxy against a wall; characters shoot Blackheart with shotgun (one shot takes off his head, whereupon he's surrounded by swooping bad souls, whom he absorbs); Ghost Rider's Stare of Penance makes bad guys scream and die.

Sex

Roxy's tops always show cleavage; Roxy and Johnny kiss several times; Mack makes a joke about "needing a woman's touch."

Language

"S--t" (used once), "son of a bitch," "damn," "hell," "ass."

Consumerism

Part of a popular comic book franchise. Brief visual displays of Marlboro cigarettes.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One scene of chaos is set in a saloon (patrons and bartender are killed by demon); in other scenes, characters smoke cigarettes (Johnny's dad smokes and has cancer; Johnny later turns down a cigarette offered by a cop); characters drink beer (though, Johnny won't drink, saying, "Alcohol gives me nightmares"), and a scene dedicated to Roxy's imbibing a full bottle of wine while waiting for Johnny to show up for a date (she appears drunk at the end).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this comic book-based movie is aimed right at kids. (They won't care that the CGI effects aren't the best and the story is uneven.) Expect frequent references to the devil and some grisly Renaissance-style images of torture. There are motorcycle crashes (one ends in a father's death), flaming leaps, falls, and skids, which produce broken-looking bodies. The villain turns victims gray and veiny, and Ghost Rider himself becomes a burning skull. Weapons include knives, shotguns, and chains. Roxy shows cleavage, and she and Johnny kiss several times (once quite passionately). Characters drink and smoke cigarettes; language includes "s--t," "damn," "son of a bitch," and "hell."

What's the story?

When young motorcycle stunt rider Johnny Blaze sells his soul to the devil (Peter Fonda), he thinks he's doing the right thing -- that is, saving his father, Bart (Brett Cullen), from a horrific death by cancer. But Johnny soon learns that Mephistopheles is not to be trusted, and he eventually has to fulfill his contract and become the devil's bounty hunter. This occurs after Johnny grows up to be a fiercely lean Nicolas Cage. Johnny's still doing motorcycle stunts, drawing big crowds with horrific, Evel Knievel-style crashes, but he never dies. The turning point comes when kohl-eyed son-of-the-devil Blackheart (Wes Bentley), ascends to earth in order to track down a contract that will grant him access to a bunch of bad souls. The whys and wherefores are a little confusing (they're narrated mostly by the Caretaker, who's played by Sam Elliott), but basically this leads to Johnny's transformation into the Ghost Rider, complete with leather jacket, chains, and skull face a-blazing. Around the same time, Johnny's childhood love interest, Roxy (Eva Mendes), returns. Now a TV reporter, she arrives at one of Johnny's most outrageous stunts dressed in a white, not-quite-angelic dress. He's re-smitten, as is she, and they spend the rest of the movie trying to get back together but also not get back together, since if they do, the devil or Blackheart (or both) will surely target her.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Like many comic book-derived movies, GHOST RIDER is corny, fiery, and outsized, but unfortunately it's not very entertaining. While the Caretaker makes lots of noise about the Ghost Rider's "legend," the movie's action and plotting are uninspired. Cage does some more Elvis impersonating, Mendes shows cleavage, and Elliott looks leathery, but none of these details helps create a sense of grand mythology. The Rider's gift/curse is his ability to assault his bad-souled victims with a Stare of Penance (he commands them to "Look into my eyes," like Dracula used to) and then make them suffer the pain of the innocents they wronged. But the visual delivery of this trick is feeble, a mostly blurry, vaguely fiery, utterly un-menacing montage of screaming, collapsing faces. This is Ghost Rider's big trick? It's hardly the stuff of legend.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the relationship between Johnny and his dad. How does Johnny's good intention lead to tragedy? Did Johnny have any other alternatives than working for the devil?

  • How does the movie differentiate between the monstrous Johnny and the monstrous Blackheart? Why is one "good" and one "bad"? Is it that easy to tell the difference between good guys and bad guys in real life?

  • Why are so many action/superhero movies based on comic books? What's the appeal?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 16, 2007
DVD release date:June 12, 2007
Cast:Eva Mendes, Nicolas Cage, Wes Bentley
Director:Mark Steven Johnson
Studio:Sony Pictures
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Superheroes
Run time:114 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:horror violence and disturbing images.

This review of Ghost Rider was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Fun movie, but may be too intense for younger kids.
  • Somewhat entertaining, but too scary for many.
  • Smart and entertaining, but also very violent.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 6, 12, 14, 15, 15, and 16 year old Written byMediaMentors November 14, 2009
 

Ghost Rider the monster

Ghost Rider is a movie of a skull head on fire. It's alsome he's a hero. But the devil took Johnny Blaze soul for this monster. But it's an action movie!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written bykjkirk April 9, 2008
Teen, 13 years old Written byrobinrunner March 22, 2011
 

Parents won't be thrilled

While watching this you can't help but to notice that Ghost Rider has a lot to do with eviland the devil.The H word is used many times. Disturbing images of the devil's son and his gang getting killed are seen. However the film isn't bad. In fact, it's considered a super hero movie, Ghost Rider bieng the hero. The biggest problem I had with it was Nicholas Cage bieng Ghost Rider. The movie could go so far...if only he hadn't helled them back.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass