Directors: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Cast: Nicholas Cage, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Christopher Lambert, Ciaran Hinds
There are movies out there that you don’t watch for their depth, or their themes, but for their fun factor. These are movies where I don’t expect any break through anything, in fact, what I expect from films such as Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is fun, pure and simple and on that department I think this sequel to Ghost Rider (2007) delivered in spades. Just don’t bother watching it in 3-D because it was non existent. This is one of those movies that was converted to 3-D after the fact, and most of the time that doesn’t work out right, but the movie itself? Not a bad time at the movies. It’s not Shakespeare, but then again, it was never trying to be. In fact, it’s quite obvious that the films team of directors Neveldine/Taylor, the directors behind the highly energetic Crank (2006) and Crank: High Voltage (2009), were damn certain of the kind of cheese ball b-movie that they were making, so they just ran with it. The result was a step up from the first film, which was a disaster in the first place.
To me Mark Steve Johnson’s Ghost Rider (2007) was a crap fest of gargantuan proportions. It had a scene or two in there that were worth watching, but the film as a whole just didn’t work for me. Fast forward five years and now Marvel has decided to make this sequel in an effort to erase the previous film from people’s minds. The problem is that this isn’t going to happen because this sequel still stars Nicholas Cage, and that alone will remind people of the first film. But whatever, the important thing to remember is that this is a whole new creative team handling the character and that alone should insure us something different. As a result, this film does have more of an edge to it simply because it’s the Crank guys behind it.
Unfortunately, even though we have a new duo of directors behind it, the films script is incredibly redundant; you’ve seen this same plot unfold a billion times before which is really the films major fault. The plot is weak; it brings nothing new to the table in terms of story. Actually, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance has the same exact plot from Drive Angry (2011) which Nicholas Cage himself starred in a mere year ago. I mean, come one, how many times have we seen a movie that is about a child who is prophesized to be the antichrist? Way too many times that’s how many! Truth is that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is in the same exact category as Drive Angry. This sequel is a silly fun time, an unapologetic b-movie. It’s not half as bad as DriveAngry, a film I loved to hate. To me, Drive Angry was a train wreck, but it was a fun one to watch. Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance isn’t as bad as Drive Angry was, but it’s definitely in the same freaking ball park. Bottom line is that with films that use repetitive story lines, the rule of thumb is: it’s not what you say, but how you say it. And I loved the style and energy that the duo of directors infused this new film with.
After all, Neveldine and Taylor are known for their hyperkinetic action films; and this is where Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance got things right in my book. The action sequences where awesome, there’s some great photography on this one as well. I saw this little video clip that showed how Neveldine and Taylor shot some of these scenes and you can tell these guys where really gung ho about getting the most energetic shots, the most original angles…I mean, these guys shot parts of this film on skateboards and in line skates! They even shot scenes while hanging from a helicopter! So I applaud these guys for making films with so much passion and energy, it translates well into their films; you feel the camera so close to the action, you feel the action in your face.
The Ghost Rider himself looks awesome; this is the best the character has looked to date. He looks slightly more satanic, more evil. The Rider’s burning skull makes his leather jacket sizzle and pop as it blazes on; the skull looks black, he simply looks kick ass…which kind of clashes with the way Cage plays him when he isn’t the rider. Cage portrays old flame head with his trademark goofiness and on this film he went over board with it; Cage’s trademark looniness is in full throttle on this one. This I really enjoyed. I don’t know about you guys, but I like it when Cage goes on one of those crazy rampages of fury. On this film Johnny Blaze is drunk and high during most of the film, a trademark of Neveldine and
films; their characters are always abusing drugs and booze. In some scenes Johnny Blaze acts as if he’s coked up out of his mind or something! There’s this one hilarious scene where Cage is trying to hold his transformation into the Ghost Rider…funny stuff! I’m actually glad they decided to go with this sense of humor; it fits well with the whole b-movie side of things. It’s like the filmmakers know nobody is taking this film too seriously, so they just decided to have some fun with it; which they did, I mean, we get to see Ghost Rider pissing fire! Taylors
The film does manage to squeeze in an original idea or two in there. For example, I loved how they played around with the idea that whatever vehicle the Ghost Rider rides turns fiery and demonic. It’s not just his bike this time around; the Rider rides a couple of different vehicles, this offers us the most original visuals in the film. I had tons of fun with this one even though I found the story to be so lazy, I mean, come one, really another crazy satanic cult that wants to sacrifice a child to Satan? Come on, we’ve seen that way too many times. But I was having fun with everything else in the film, Ghost Rider looks awesome, Cage was funny and crazy (the way I like him!) and the action from Neveldine and Taylor rocked; so what we got here ladies and gentlemen is a fun time at the movies. Nothing ground breaking, but nothing boring either. At the very least it’s worth a watch.