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Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

February 18, 2012

Johnny Blaze: Roadkill.

How can you screw up the same thing twice? I can acknowledge that Ghost Rider may not be the finest character in the Marvel cosmos, but to have made two disastrous attempts in creating a well-intentioned Ghost Rider film is truly disgraceful. What is even more disgraceful is how my favorite directing duo, Neveldine/Taylor, managed to present the first film of theirs that I even moderately ostracized. Also, Nic Cage further convinces me that he’s one of the worst working actors on film. The film is a Marvel Knights production, so the story is a bit darker than the last one, which did not imply anything remotely different from something like Punisher: War Zone. Avoid Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance at all costs.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (which apparently has no relation to the first Ghost Rider film) begins with a group of thugs attempting to apprehend a young boy who is destined to be an malevolent prophecy or some cockamamie spiritual drivel. They are thwarted when a man called Moreau (played by a French Idris Elba) holds them off. When he discovers that these thugs will continue until the boy is gone, he gains hold of Johnny Blaze (Nic Cage), who turns into the Ghost Rider when angered (Hulk rip-off?). Now it is up to the devil’s sidekick to save this boy from eternal damnation. 

Though it may not seem so clear, I had high hopes for this film. Why would I have high hopes for a sequel to a film I detested? Two words: Neveldine/Taylor. I’ve been a genuinely immense fan of those eccentric directors since viewing their first hit film: Crank. They then went on to direct a sequel to that, as well as a videogame-reality film, Gamer. When I heard they would helm the sequel to Ghost Rider, I assumed it would be stimulating to see how they incorporate their visual style into what is an interesting premise.

I wasn’t dishonest about that former fragment. Neveldine/Taylor do integrate some of their own visual elegance into the film, which is continuously enjoyable to observe. The main aspect of their filmmaking that sincerely snags the spectators attentiveness is how they shoot these sequences. Earlier this month on the Regal First Look (formerly The 20), they exhibited to us a behind the scenes of these sequences, and boy, does their work pay off. Neveldine/Taylor go to extravagances to get the right shots; including gliding off a broken bridge or rollerblading on a highway attached to a motorcycle in a car chase. These two are daredevils, and they shoot some pretty wonderful action here.

What could have been something prodigious is carried down by its contemptible and dreadful script, written by David S. Goyer, who wrote the stories for a petite series of films including The Dark Knight and Batman Begins! Now, he is credited as a screenwriter for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Seriously? How does one go from writing the third highest grossing film domestically to being degraded to a film that involves Nicolas Cage pissing fire and spitting bullets? Like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, they ditch the seriousness of the first (which wasn’t too serious to begin with), and attempt to make it an action-comedy.

Yet another flaw was not found in the film’s production, it was the main actor himself. Full confession alert: I loathe Nicolas Cage. I find his acting to be pointblank shameful and he hasn’t been able to harbor a decent performance since Kick-Ass, or even Raising Arizona for that matter. It seems as if Cage takes his entire career as an anecdote, as his performance marks his worst one since The Wicker Man, and we all remember how THAT turned out. In all honestly, Neveldine/Taylor should’ve started from scrap, with a wholly fresh cast.

The only probable recommendation I can give to you regarding this film is that if you are into frantic shooting and strenuous filmmaking, then by all means, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is the film for you!

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: 2 out of 5

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