Monday, February 27, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)



Title: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

Directors: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Cast: Nicholas Cage, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Christopher Lambert, Ciaran Hinds

Review:

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 Taylors 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!


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.

Rating: 3 ½ out of 5   



11 comments:

Nebular said...

3.5 stars out of 5? Wow, you're really generous with this one...

The Film Connoisseur said...

Yeah, if it hadnt been for that formulaic story about a Satanic Cult, I probably would have given it a four, but aside from that, I had a fun time with it.

ian!!!! said...

i gave this a huge pass. the fact nick cage is in it and they ruined the character for me. i loved ghost rider in the comics (well until the last like 30 books then it went south really bad).

i expected drek with the 1st ghost rider movie, just 'casue nick cage was in it and he blows! yeah it was worse than drek, it was complete turd. a pox upon all
involved!

Jack Thursby said...

Yeah, I caught the first film on TV was distinctly unimpressed but the fact they've gone with the Crank directors for this installment has me slightly interested.

Should have replaced Nicholas Cage to make a fresh break though.

The Film Connoisseur said...

@ian!!! and Jack: I use to read the Ghost Rider back when Mark Texeira used to draw him, he had a good run on that series thats for sure! This was way back in the 90's, when we had that huge boom in comics!

I agree with both you guys in saying that replacing Nick Cage for the role would have been a good idea, somebody younger perhaps, but to his defense, he was actually kind of funny in the role! Which is something that this movie did, it didnt take it self too seriously.

Actually, the make some references in the film itself about this one being like a horror film when one of the characters says "I didnt know I'd be walking into a horror movie", which is really the best way to treat Ghost Rider, like a horror film, because of it's supernatural/satanic elements.

They also added a little something to the character in terms of origins, but I'm not going to go into that cause that would be a spoiler.

venoms5 said...

I avoided the first movie because of Cage, too, Fran. I remember when he was campaigning for the Superman role, too. The Spirits of Vengeance comics that came out in the 90s were really cool. I might give this one a rent on video.

What's going on with blogger? It's not giving me the option to subscribe via email for responses; just to post only.

The Film Connoisseur said...

@Venom: Yeah, Cage as Superman would have been a huge mistake, I'm actually glad that the project never came to be, though I would have liked to see Burton's take on Superman, that would have been interesting.

About Blogger, I think they are doing some changes apparently, no surprise there! maybe they automatically send you replies to your e-mail instead of giving you the option to do it?

J.D. said...

Nice review! A few other bloggers I admire have been singing this film's praises and I have to admit that I am curious to check this out but will probably wait 'til video.

I thought it was inspired choice hiring the CRANK boys to make this film. At least you can say this film as a distinctive look and style thanks to them - something that was woefully absent from the first GHOST RIDER film.

The Film Connoisseur said...

@J.D.: It's fun times, formulaic but fun. It even introduced a couple of new concepts into the Ghost Rider lore, for example, it's not only the riders bike that turns "demonic", it's any other vehicle he rides that turns all fiery; that was an awesome idea!

Not gonna spoil it, but I think they introduced a couple of new ideas into the Riders origin story as well.

Kaijinu said...

I;m actually a big fan of the first, as well as Drive Angry. it's a mess, tiny glitches in the universe, but it's my tiny abysmal glitches!

I've yet to see this, though, and with your review, the better I'm hyped!

The Film Connoisseur said...

The scene I like from the first is the one where he is riding his bike across the city and the cops are following him, it's pretty spectacular. I'm thinking of re-watching the first one soon. But yeah, if you're a big fan of the first, then you should enjoy seeing this one, it's way better in my opinion. It's got more action, more of the Ghost Rider...and it's got a sense of humor to it. Hope you enjoy it!

P.S.: Drive Angry was fun to me, not what I'd call a good movie, but it was fun for sure!

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