Friday, June 15, 2007

Ghost Rider

I rented "Ghost Rider" this week. It's not a bad flick, if you like movies based on comic books, which I do. Ghost Rider was one of my favorites as a kid, but I had forgotten pretty much everything about his story.

It's not a bad back story. It might seem a bit cliche, but legends like this need to build on fundamental archetypes, so you ought to expect that. It's presented as a recurring myth -- a man sells his soul to the devil and as a result he's the devil's bounty hunter. OK, so this is cool, we get a little pseudo-theology in our comic book movie. Then one of these ghost riders decides not to do the devil's bidding. That's the back story.

The demonology of the movie is a little confused as there are some issues over the devil and his son having varying strengths and weaknesses, not to mention the son being a little more evil but for some reaosn being described as not having fallen. But all of that easily fits in the suspension of disbelief any movie asks of the viewer.

So the protagonist, after becoming the latest ghost rider, finds himself struggling with the possibility that maybe, just maybe, he can get a second chance, and he decides to use his powers for good. OK, so we've got a nice redemption/grace thing going there, but somehow the story can't avoid the vengence model of religion.

The Ghost Rider's greatest power is his "penance stare" -- as his opponent looks into his eyes, he feels the pain of all the innocent souls he has wounded and is reduced to a quivering mass and presumably remanded to hell.

In the final scene, when the devil is about to release him from his curse, he refuses, informing the devil that he intends to fight against him, saying that whenever innocent blood is spilled he'll be there fighting fire with fire.

So...the Ghost Rider will chase down the wicked with hellfire and damn them by revealing their sins to them. Excuse me? How is that different from the devil? It all seems to come down to the fact that people just aren't willing to go past the idea that God likes innocent people and wants to see bad people punished. A motorcycle named "Grace" isn't going to fix this storyline.

Summary: fun movie, bad theology.


Grim D. Reaper said...

Did you get permission from before hosting that picture? Not cool stealing bandwidth, dude.

Andy said...

My bad. It never occurred to me that anyone would mind.

David said...

I was tagged to list five things I dig about Jesus, and then tag five other folks. I am interested in reading your response so consider yourself tagged. Looking forward to reading your list.