Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Trust me when I say that I’m trying to take this movie in the spirit in which it’s intended.

Because, I realize this flick is losing half of the nation’s critics right from the get go with its kind of irreverant style of handheld film making and in your face juvenile humor…

But I can’t help but feel like “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” missed the mark by being a little safe. It’s like they tried to infuse the “Crank” style into the film, but with a PG-13 rating, which thus eliminates a LOT of the “Crank” content. (The directing team, for those unaware, did both films)

That’s not the way to get the best results.

“Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are two junior high school kids whose parents are on vacation. While the adults were gone, the two raided the liquor cabinet, started eating straight sugar and broke out the video camera and shot some movies. I jest of course, and the comment isn’t directed to the quality of the movie (per se), but to the spirit of it. Like their preceding efforts (The “Crank” films), GR:SoV is infused with a “YEAH MAN, WHOO!!” sensibility that fluctuates between endearing and ingratiating. Occasionally I would laugh at their sophomoric sensibilities, but at other times I would roll my eyes, thinking, c’mon, grow up. I think (without Wikipedia or anything) it’s a safe bet that these guys have like 1,000s of gigabytes of themselves skateboarding off of railings and jumping their bikes off of hills and stuff from when they were young.

Of course, they have the perfect man for the job in Nic Cage. Given the green light, Cage can chew scenery like Jaws chewed on Quint. Unfortunately, I actually didn’t think he was off the hook enough here. When he’s fighting the transformation to “The Rider”, he’s a spastic loon, and a lot of fun to watch. But when taking the role of Johnny Blaze seriously, or, as seriously as we can take him at least, he’s a bit dour, gettin’ puffy, and a little old for the part. I actually wished that he was MORE insane. Somehow this flick didn’t capture that Nic Cage is a maniac energy half as well as “Bad Lieutenant” did. It was like watching him do an imitation of himself.

The special effects were great though, and the action scenes are… lively. If you’re a fan of the character from the comics, at the very least this movie is going to provide you with an opportunity to see Ghost Rider in motion like you never have before. His blazing skull and fiery motorcycle both look fantastic. I think on the whole, the action sequences (with one exception) are far too infused with that Neveldine/Taylor hyperkinetic ADD energy, but given Ghost Rider’s “powers”, I’m not sure what could have been done. The finale was a decent set piece at least.

He squares off both against the Devil (Ciarán Hinds’ Roarke) and Blackout (Johnny Whitworth’s Ray Carrigan). Along the way he runs across the return of Christopher Lambert as well. Violante Placido supports here as the Mom of the demon boy, and she’s joined on Team Ghost Rider by Idris Elba. None of the supporting cast bring enough flavor to really elevate the film though.

The entire plot can be summed up in one sentence. Here goes:

A cult offers Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider the opportunity to break his “curse” if he can stop the devil, who seeks to transfer his soul into the body of his (the devil’s) son.

A bunch of fights and chases, etc. ensue due to that, but that’s the framework it’s all hung on.

The lackluster plot and cast, coupled with the less than thrilling action sequences that the majority of the film featured, led me to be disappointed in the end result. Add in the fact that the Neveldine/Taylor brand of manic intensity rubbed me the wrong way at times, and I can’t give it a good grade. But the awesome special effects for Ghost Rider, the couple of action moments they had that were cool, and the fact that Nic Cage is always a fascinating person to watch no matter how terrible he is, save this movie from getting a truly bad grade.

It’s a wash in my book.


22 thoughts on “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

  1. Nicolas Cage alone would make me not want to pay movie theater prices. While I enjoyed the National Treasures, content mostly, not like his acting was great, and Sorcerer’s Apprentice, again content and I like an enjoyable story with nothing deep about it. Him as an actor, I never have cared for.

    This is a rental from a Red Box for $1.

  2. When I saw the trailers, I felt that it looked even more stupid than the first one. Definitely not getting a sense that I’m wrong about that from reviews here and elsewhere.

    From what you say about the action and the special effects, am I correct in thinking that this is another case like TF3 where the “spectacle” factor is upping the score some?

  3. I loved the first one. This second one was a disappointment. The overacting from both Cage and Hinds rubbed me the wrong way. It went too far to be enjoyable. I did like the Twinkie scene and the blazing effects but Ghost Rider works better when he is in the night not broad daylight. I’m not totally down on this but the most I can give it is a 4.

    • Wow for real, you loved the first one? That’s a movie only its mother could love. LOL. Your boy and I are doing this movie for our “Featured review” when we record tomorrow night… let me see this, I’m not going to go back and revisit #1 in preperation. LOL

      Meanwhile though. I cant argue with anyone that gives this a bad grade. It wasn’t exactly a quality flick in my book either.

      • The first was a lot of fun in a comic book sort of way. Plus it had Eva Mendez and Peter Fonda.

  4. a definite wash. You’re right. and none of the supporting cast really brought anything of merit to the story. But the spec effects were neat. Wish this could’ve been a little bit better…wait. okay, no…no I don’t.

    Nic Cage, please return to good movies. Or at least, please watch some of your earlier work and begin imitating THAT instead of imitating your films of late.

    Nice review Fogs!

    Oh, and Alan was right. I liked the Twinkie scene too.

    • Thanks buddy. The Twinkie thing was funny. There were some mildly humorous moments here and there.

      And I dont know if Cage COULD return to good movies, man. I think his credibility has been kind of damaged over these last few years. Who would put him in anything really good? I cant see it…

  5. You have no idea how pumped I am for this movie. Every time a commercial comes on TV, I get really excited, and Mrs. Brik rolls her eyes. I love Nic Cage and all the insanity he brings to everything. But now I’m worried, since you said he wasn’t insane enough. Hopefully, this movie will still be just as awesomely shitty as I imagine it to be.

    • See though Brik… thats what I wanted too.

      And really, thats like the only way for it to win. Literally the only path to victory this flick has. Cause it’s too… “adrenaline filled” LOL to be a solid, traditional flick.

      But it didnt work for me even on that level. I hope it does for you. But THAT’S what I was hoping for too, and… it was just off. It had a scene or two I’d have to give it, and maybe on a rewatch I’d come around more to the spirit of it, but for right now, I wasn’t impressed….

  6. Nothing I saw in the first film’s trailers did anything for me and the same goes here.

    I did notice the Crank style look of the film in the trailers and thought it looked a little odd. I would have thought that style worked best for films that were more grounded in reality. *shrug* I don’t know anything, I haven’t even seen it!

  7. I won’t be watching in the theater, but will definitely check it out when it hits Netflix. As a person that was unfamiliar with the comic, I thought the first movie was decent. I caught some of it on FX this past weekend and then saw behind the scenes stuff of #2. Had no idea Idris Elba was in it until then (which I really like), so I’ll be watching mainly for him. Had hoped #2 would at least be the same level as #1.

    • Yeah, I don’t think Elba was given much to work with here. “The Wire”, this is not.

      It’s decent enough for a rental or whatever I guess. I thought it was better than 1, actually, but I’m honestly not a big fan of 1.

  8. Saw this one yesterday Dan. Sucked. I was expecting a lot more from this flick especially since we listened to the directors at Comic-Con. The special effects were good but the story line and the weird shots of Ghost Rider in the black background was too much. Come on, his demon is a fallen angel? Also, the bad guy Blackout, turns everything to dust except when he is driving a truck. They even have him trying to eat and everything he touches rots away except the Twinkie. Even though the Twinkie is wrapped in plastic and that’s fine to touch. Just not done right. Anyways, about half way through I started day dreaming and was happy when it was over. I read your review ahead of time and was expecting a decent movie but not great. I came out of it thinking “this is defiantly an F”. But after getting home I upgraded it to a D D+. Like I said, I think my expectations after Comic-Con was high and that tainted my movie experience while I’m watching it. There was some cool stuff like his jacket turning to tar when he is the Ghost Rider and the fact that he can he can turn any piece of equipment into a demon machine. Other than that, I want my money back.

    • “Also, the bad guy Blackout, turns everything to dust except when he is driving a truck.”

      Ahhhh haaa haaaa. Thats funny right there. LOL.

      Yeah, it sucked. I probably should have downgraded it even more myself. I had some fun with Nick Cage and the special effects, but the more I think about it the worse it gets.

      Hey man, welcome to the Comic-con effect. a) Youre cursed now to mention that you SAW that panel everytime this movie comes up (This comment? Case in point) and b) your expectations were set at least 50% too high. Happens all the time.

      Hopefully not to the Avengers though!!

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