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Discuss this week's Joe Loves Crappy Movies here!

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Love crappy movies but are too ashamed to admit it? Are you a big Rob Schneider fan but you're tired of being burned? Not sure if you want to waste your money on the same old movie? That's why you have Joe.

Joe Loves Crappy Movies is by Joseph Dunn. Joe willingly goes to see the very worst that Hollywood has to offer. Whenever a crappy movie comes out Joe will be there to see it, make fun of it, and actually review it. Nothing is safe, and nothing is sacred. From the big budget action disasters to the low brow fart based comedies, to anything starring Martin Lawrence? Joe will tear it apart.

With each entry you'll get not only a comic poking fun at the movie, but also a detailed review. Joe's not educated in film or cinematography or acting, he's just a guy that draws comics and likes movies. So if you're looking for the everyman perspective and a little joke in comic form... you're in the right place.

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Ghost Rider

Released: 2/16/07

Viewed: 2:10 pm 2/17/07

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Peter Fonda, Wes Bentley, Sam Elliot, Donal Logue

Directed by: Mark Steven Johnson

Sony Pictures - Official Site of the Movie

Discuss this comic on the boards!

After taking Daredevil, one of Marvel Comics’ most beloved B-listers and creating a “less than” movie, it’s amazing that young director Mark Steven Johnson was able to get his hands on another comic book property. Granted Ghost Rider isn’t even a B-lister, but with his flaming skull and supernatural enemies, another mistake wouldn’t be just a let down… it would be expensive. 2 weeks after its release, the majority of comic fans and critics have panned it to death, but people are still going to see it. 2 weeks at number one and a strong total box office make Ghost Rider one of the top grosser of the year and shows us that a comic book movie doesn't have to be good to be profitable.

The movie starts off well enough giving us a quick but detailed background story setting up Johnny Blaze's difficult decision to sell his soul in order to save his father’s life. I liked the tone and pacing in this first section of the film and appreciated the younger actors playing the younger versions of Johnny and Roxanne. They did a great job quickly introducing the complexity of these two characters and their lost love.

Great set-up, but from there it's all flash and no substance. Big motorcycle jumps replace important plot points, trick stunt driving replaces the characters having a genuine reconnection, and standing around gap-mouthed replaces acting. The movie quickly becomes more about the stunts and special effects than it does the story, and to a degree I expected that but had secretly hoped they'd manage to be able to string together some semblance of a story.

The story is simple so it taking a backseat to big budget action isn’t great, but it’s forgivable. If it was all talking and no action, I would just be complaining in reverse. But something that is so distracting that not even a flaming scull could hide it is the horrible acting, if that's what you can call it. It's as if everyone thought they were getting a free pass not to act just because it was a comic book movie. And when no one is taking the acting seriously its no surprise that the performances of the younger versions of the main characters are more impressive than the marquee Oscar winners.

Part of the reason no line of dialogue comes off as genuine is because Ghost Rider is littered with one-liners. I love a good one-liner and can respect it for what it is in a movie like this, but Ghost Rider takes things way to far. In a movie that requires a nice balance of horror and humor we've got jokes being tossed at us on every turn. A few work great ("Sterilize this for me.") but for every well-timed moment of humor there is a dozen forced ones that fall flat and leave you squirming in your seat. The result of non-acting and no true moments of seriousness results in characters you don't care about, even if you actually believe they care for each other.

With everything that's going wrong this film holds nothing back when it comes to its title character. Some of the other effects are hit or miss but Johnson knew what to throw his money at, and it stuck. Every time the skull lights up and Ghost Rider steps on screen, I got chills. Imposing, awe inspiring, and perfect in such a way that you could hear the tightening of fanboy pants whenever he hops on his bike. He really is the comic book character come to life. If only every time that fire goes out he didn't transform into a jellybean eating, monkey obsessed, brain dead bundle of potential.

On the downside, Ghost Rider never really cuts loose. Of the 4 or 5 times he appears in all his glory there's not a truly great action sequence other than some extreme motorcycle stunts and a very up close and personal run-in with the front of a truck. For the most part he spends the rest of the film going through lesser bosses like a poorly plotted video game, beating them in low energy, bland, and predictable battles. But he looked awesome doing it.

Clearly the bulk of the budget went into making Ghost Rider look awesome and I'm grateful for that. I'm willing to forgive little CGI issues in some of the lesser characters as long as our hero is top notch. And he is. But you can't tell me that there wasn't enough room in the budget to buy Sam Elliot a razor. He's got a ridiculous amount of hair on his face. Even up on the top of his cheeks near his eyes. Seriously, the man is one stray nose hair away from being classified as a werewolf.

Fuzzy face or not, he gives the most solid performance in the film. Elliot is the only person that is able to find a comfortable balance between light-hearted comic book adventure and serious horror movie. And that says a lot considering he's a mysterious graveyard caretaker that delivers all of the films exposition. The fact that he's able to hold our attention at all is a God damned miracle. In the wrong hands, a character like that could have been a complete disaster. I can just picture someone milking the part for all it's worth, making it extra creepy and over-the-top spooky, where as Elliot's laidback, cowboy ease made the part memorable and fun.

I had high hopes for a similar performance from Peter Fonda who sadly exploits every opportunity to ham it up in this film as the devil Mephistopheles. From things as subtle as the tone of Fonda's performance to the much more obvious horned silhouette, Johnson wastes no effort trying to tell the audience that this cloaked elderly gentlemen is in fact the devil. And with a being that powerful, a little subtlety can go a long way. If he were charming and likeable instead of creepy and clingy, the character would have been much more effective. He would have had an air of danger if he were a little less obviously evil. Eva Mendes looks incredible, and at half the cost of those Ghost Rider special effects too. Seriously, I like her and I'm a little bummed that in this film she's been reduced to little more than a glorified piece of ass. Every time she rides up the elevator to Johnny's loft you'll suddenly forget what she's doing there, who she is, and who you are, because you won't be able to focus on anything other than her ample and well lit cleavage. She's a better actor than this movie lets her be.

Same thing for Nicolas Cage who misses the mark completely as a man beaten by his own demons. A lot of fans went in expecting him to suck because it’s a well-known fact he’s been lobbying for a comic book role for years. His stage name “Cage” is even taken from the comic book character Power Man who’s real name is Luke Cage. He even named his kid Kal-el (Superman’s Kryptonian name).

Because of how bad he wanted to be a comic book movie hero, not a lot of fans took him seriously and they expected him to suck. I defended him in our forums saying that for every Wickerman there’s an Adaptation. The man makes a lot of movies, and some of them are really amazing. Why do people just forget that? Well, that wall of defence crumbled under Cage’s rigid, and uneven performance. I regret defending him before seeing the movie and realizing that he was going to be eating candy out of martini glass and pointing at everything maniacally. It would help if he looked a little more like Mendes

I don't hate this movie by any means, but Ghost Rider is far from a masterpiece. An aimless plot, undefined characters and spotty acting across the boards all add to a movie where you have more invested in the special effects than the actual characters. People will walk out of this film not talking about ho cool the character is, but rather how cool he looks. I guess that's fine if it's drawing in the crowds, but if Hollywood sleepwalked their way through a movie of a comic book character that actually matters like Spiderman or Batman... you'd have some very angry nerds.

Rating: 5 out of 10 - Kind of a disappointment even though I thought I had my expectations reasonably in check. With this, Mark Steven Johnson becomes the Paul Anderson (Resident Evil Alien vs. Predator) of Comic book movies. Both are passionate about the characters and worlds involved in their movies, but neither has been able to cross the line from good to great. I’ll keep watching though, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Oh, you bet your ass. I was unimpressed for the most part but I think it will replay really well on DVD. The little problems will be easier to forgive and I'll be able to focus more on what's working well. A directors cut might be worth holding out for though because Mark Steven Johnson's director's cut of Daredevil was much stronger than what was vomited on to movie screens a few Valentine's ago.

Spawn - What are you drunk!? Of course it’s Spawn! These are the exact same thing. Man makes deal with the devil and has to become his servant but ends up rebelling and battling the being that gave him the powers in the first place. Not close enough for you? How about the swirling chains? That’s all Spawn was really. Ghost Rider with a cape and a time line. And successful sales.

I’ve got a guest strip going up at @sshole tomorrow morning and I can tell you now that my strip is kind of funny, but it’s really funny if you’ve read through the archives of the strip. Don’t worry, there are only a couple dozen, and the wedding storyline is a lot of fun.

A lot of my effort lately has been spent on Turtle vs. Bunny. It’s been going so well that I would actually call it a success. Shirts sell well, fan response to the concept has been huge, and this past weekend when we were at the New York Comic Con, the “Turtle holding a bazooka” shirts were the hit of the table. I’ll have more on this later but in the meanwhile, check out TvB. It’s a lot of fun.

Tonight we’ll be doing another Pimpcast where we’ll be discussing the New York Comic con, and all the Digital Pimp Strips from the last two weeks. If you’re online at 10 pm EST, stop by and have a listen. One of the hot topics of discussion will be the return of Fish Tank Tango! For those of you that don’t know, Irv (yep the one form this comic) used to draw a comic here at Digital Pimp. After a rough period last year he decided to put the strip on hiatus. It was a lonely time for those of us that love a good boob joke, but we don’t have to be lonely anymore. Fish Tank Tango is back and dirtier than ever! Fish Tank Tango updates every Friday right here at Digital Pimp. Check it out.

Live Journal/Myspace/Rotten Tomatoes/Buzz Comix/Top Web Comics/Comics on the Ipod/The Webcomics List/Online Comics/Wikipedia/Comixpedia/JLCM Map!

Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - The Introduction

Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.

First Appearance - Fever Pitch

Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.

First Appearance - V for Vendetta

Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison

Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.

First Appearance - 300

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe

Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.

First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet

Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.

First Appearance - Four Brothers

Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.

First Appearance - Ultraviolet

Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.

First Appearance - The Producers

Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!

Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?

First Appearance - Saw IV

Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V