At a recent event held by Columbia, at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, for their highly anticipated film Ghost Rider, we were given the privilege of screening some early footage from the movie.

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In order to save his dying father, young stunt cyclist Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) sells his soul to Mephistopheles and sadly parts from the pure-hearted Roxanne Simpson, the love of his life. Years later, Johnny's path crosses again with Roxanne (Eva Mendes), now a gogetting reporter, and also with Mephistopheles, who offers to release Johnny's soul if Johnny becomes the fabled, fiery Ghost Rider, a supernatural agent of vengeance and justice. Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda) charges Johnny with defeating the despicable Blackheart, Mephistopheles' nemesis and son, who plans to displace his father and create a new hell even more terrible than the old one.

The event began with director Mark Steven Johnson coming out and explaining that the footage we were seeing was just a taste of what the movie was going to contain. He even said that they were still working on portions of the film and that they would be doing so until the end of the January.

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Clip 1

The first clip we saw featured Johnny Blaze on the motorcycle. As he began to ride it, flames started coming off the wheels and the bike itself. As Johnny Blaze rode past various cars and stores, the automobiles seemed to blow up just by virtue of their location. Windows to stores shattered and it's apparent that Blaze is capable of a lot of destruction when he's on the bike. A motorcycle officer tries to clock him on his radar, but Johnny zooms by him and the officer goes flying as well.

Blaze finally gets to a shop where he too is thrown off the bike. Suddenly, he starts to shake as his body is overcome with fire and he turns into the Ghost Rider. His motorcycle is soon engulfed in flames and it is eventually transformed into an entirely different bike itself. The image of the skeleton in the leather jacket seems really well created on film. It's movements, mainly the tiny nuances, have all been captured by the CGI team.

Clip 2

In the second clip Johnny Blaze seems to be trying to understand and control his newfound power. In the midst of trying to manipulate some fire coming out of his arm, he is visited by Roxanne who wants to know why he stood her up. Things get hot and heavy between the two characters and it is here that Johnny Blaze tells he sold his soul to devil and why. He tells her about the fire, what's happening to him, how it only happens at night, and she doesn't believe a word of it. We eventually cut to an outside shot of Roxanne driving off, leaving Johnny Blaze in the middle of the street, because she thinks he'd rather make up fantastical stories than be with her.

Clip 3

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With Metallica's music pounding, the police force, SWAT team, and helicopters pursue the Ghost Rider as he battles Blackheart and some of his men. Ghost Rider then starts to ride up the side of an enormous glass building, leaving shards of broken glass behind him. At this point Roxanne sees him moving up the building and, ever the roving reporter, realizes she must get to the scene.

Ghost Rider eventually makes his way to the top of the building where he is confronted by a helicopter. Using a chain for a lasso, Ghost Rider manages to wrangle the helicopter toward him and warns him to get out of there. The helicopter pilot agrees and Ghost Rider begins to do battle with one of Blackheart's men. After some give and take where Ghost Rider is told, "You can't catch the wind," Ghost Rider manages to lasso him, and begins to spin the chain, disintegrating Blackheart back into hell.

Then Ghost Rider rides off the building and slams down on the ground in front of everyone. He steps off the bike and Roxanne, who is in front of the crowd, suddenly realizes that Johnny Blaze wasn't lying after all. The police and SWAT teams start to open fire on Ghost Rider, riddling him with bullets that don't seem to have much of an effect. Ghost Rider then creates a flame that pushes everyone back, and in that moment, jumps on his bike and disappears.

Riding through the night until morning, Ghost Rider finally stops when he gets to a graveyard. He begins convulsing as the sun comes up and he turns back into Johnny Blaze. He then crawls off the bike and ends up at the headstone of Barton Blaze, his father. At this moment, he is greeted by the Caretaker (Sam Elliot) who simply says, "Hello, bonehead."

Clip 4

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Then, the last image we see is that of the Ghost Rider in the flames riding through the desert with a man on horseback who is also in flames. As they move, they burn up animals and other growth that is in the vicinity of their path. While it isn't explicitly stated, it seems that the Caretaker is the man on horseback riding next to the Ghost Rider. With flames burning and their movements slowed, this whole vibe of this scene had the feel of an apocalyptic western. The mixture of music and images gave all the clips a very full feel.

Ghost Rider opens February 16, 2007 from Columbia Pictures.

Evan Jacobs