Ghost Riding…

My brother randytayler and I went to see “Ghost Rider” last night.

Lots of thoughts, but the one that sticks with me is this — the skull looked boring.

That’s right, they managed to make a flaming skull look BORING. If you look at the comics, the Ghost Rider’s skull has actual facial expressions. The animators on this film, however, decided that it should be a realistic skull — incapable of expressing anything other than “the mouth is open” without the layers of muscle and tissue atop it. Sure, it had flame, but they didn’t use that for expression other than the flame in the eyes for the Pale Stare ability, and cool, blue flames when he was being pensive and a bit more in control.

My advice to animators — BREAK THE RULES. Go ahead and allow the eye sockets to change shape for expressions. Flare those sinus cavities. Give the skull some LIFE, even though it’s traditionally a symbol of death.

There were other things wrong with the movie, but there was also a lot to like. There were couple of brilliant musical pieces whose drum-beats echoed not only the signature Harley-Davidson “potato potato potato” idling sound, but also the hoofbeats symbolic of the ghost rider of the 19th century, who rode a horse. THAT was cool to listen to in the context of the film.

20 thoughts on “Ghost Riding…”

  1. I found it to be an enjoyable bad movie. Like, it was technically terrible, but I had fun watching it. My friend Eric simply found it bad, but he’s always been less forgiving than I am.

  2. I admit, the major musical irk I had was the techno-remix of Riders in the Sky – I think they could have used Johnny Cash’s version and lost absolutely nothing…

    1. My only gripe with the music is that the song “Ghost Rider” wasn’t actually in the film.

      “GHOST RIDER, Riding Around With His HEAD ON FIRE!”

  3. For a skull with expression, Death’s head in Hogfather does quite well. But a lot of that is good body acting, and the way the head tilts and such.

  4. I haven’t seen the film, yet, but I really loved the line in the previews when Cage makes the dry comment “it feels like my skull is on fire, but other than that, I’m okay.”

  5. Computer animation opened up a huge range of subject matter for nominally live-action films which previously could only have been done as tradional animation. In every way, this was a cartoon in the thin guise of a non-cartoon, but depicting Ghost Rider’s face as you describe would have made the pretense of a non-cartoon impossible. At this point in film history, filmmakers– and perhaps audiences at our current level of sophistication– are uncomfortable without that pretense.

    1. I disagree. We’ve seen this kind of thing done in The Mummy, which is what, seven years old now? Eight?

      Sure, they could have done it WRONG, and blown that pretense, but the same holds true for any endeavor.

    1. I thought the 2 ghost riders was cool… but when they got there and the 2nd ghost rider said “well, I’ve come as far as I have to, the rest is up to you.” I was thinking…. FFS, You rode accross 200 miles of desert to do NOTHING????!!! WTH is up with that?

      Then I was expecting the cliche where old guy rushes in and saves the day, but THANK GAWDS that they didn’t do that old thing again.

  6. A largely stationary face can still be used to great effect when paired with excellent body language — witness V for Vendetta or The Iron Giant — and I’d prefer that to a skull that actually flexed.

    I’m assuming by your comments that they failed to do that either. Using the flames for expression would have also worked.

  7. the skull

    i read an article (SciFi Weekly, maybe?) that said they tried to do a more animated skull and it looked like cr@p. So they ended up taking X-rays of Nic Cage’s head (at his suggestion) and incorporating the actual outlines of his skull into the effect. Which is totally in line with the weirdness that is Nicolas Cage. 🙂

  8. Instead of animating the skull, they should have hired an actor.

    As others have said “V for Vendetta” pulled it off quite nicely.

  9. I kept almost falling asleep, truth be told. There were some bits we got to laugh at, but the issue I had was with the mythos. Like, what is everyone’s power? Why are the elemental guys such a hazard? What is Ghostrider’s weakness? Can he be killed in Ghostrider mode? If so, um… TRUCK? If not, then what were we worried about?

    Et cetera.

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