I must start by saying that I was a huge Ghost Rider fan as a kid and I think that’s why I partially enjoyed the first Ghost Rider film. Don’t get me wrong, it was a pretty bad movie, but hey, it was a Ghost Rider film so I took what I could get. When I saw a second film was coming I didn’t hold out much hope for it. Now that I’ve seen it, I can safely say that it is worse than the first, but because of that, it’s better.
In Spirit of Vengeance, Johnny Blaze (Cage) has traveled all the way to Eastern Europe to escape his problems. (If you’re already thinking “That doesn’t really make any sense.” Then prepare to say that a lot!) A child (Fergus Riordan), who we learn was born much the same way Blaze became Ghost Rider, is in danger and he and his mother are on the run. A mysterious French dude (Idris Elba) tracks down Johnny Blaze and tells him he’s the only one that can save the kid and if he saves the kid, the French dude knows some people that can save his soul. So Blaze, who has been fighting back the demon in him up to this point, lets the Rider out and goes in pursuit.
In the first fight scene Ghost Rider is painted as a slow lumbering beast who mostly just stands there and uses his chains to kill dudes. He is unsuccessful in rescuing the kid and takes a grenade to the chest. Cut to Blaze waking up in the hospital demanding morphine. But that doesn’t stop him. He teams up with the kid’s mom (Violante Placido) and they continue the chase. In a later fight scene Ghost Rider takes not one, but two large rockets to the chest and Blaze seems complete un-phased by this. Huh? During this rescue attempt the mom magically appears in the room where her kid is being held. One can only imagine that this room was being heavily guarded. How did she get in there? We’ll never know.
Later in the film we are introduced to a super-powered villain (Johnny Whitworth) who can make things decay at the touch of a finger (A search on Wikipedia afterwords reveals this to be the villain, Blackout. His name is never mentioned in the film). Many a man turn to dust in his hands, as does all the food he tries to eat (all but Twinkies, of course). However, he doesn’t decay the steering wheel of the car he drives. Can he control this power of his? Can he turn it on and off? It’s never really explained.
A lot of things in this film are never explained. And while that should be frustrating, it just adds to the overall unintended humor of this film. And this film is not only funny, it’s hilarious. I laughed harder in the theater at this film than I have in a long time. Most of the humor is due to Cage himself. He seems more to be playing Andy Samberg’s version of Cage than an actual character in a film. He is so zany and over the top that at first it’s almost hard to believe, but after you wipe a few tears away you realize this is really happening and just enjoy the ride. One particular highlight that will surely be in Nic Cage best-of reels of the future is a scene where Blaze interrogates a thug all the while trying to fight back the Rider from taking over.
Rarely have I seen a Hollywood film completely abandon all logic in its storytelling the way Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance does. It’s quite impressive actually. This is made all the more shocking by the fact that it’s written by David S. Goyer (the Batman films). However Goyer also wrote the late ’90s Nick Fury movie starring David Hasselhoff.
The cinematography is pretty good with Crank directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor really getting into the action, be they fight sequences or chase scenes, you really get some great shots that keep the action moving; shots that are in no way helped by the 3-D. In fact, this film is another case where the 3-D adds nothing to the film. I recommend that if you’re going to see this, save a few bucks and see it in 2-D.
I’m not going to lie, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance might end up going down as one of the worst films of the year. But it’s also one of the funniest films you could see in theaters this weekend. If you’re in the mood for a train wreck, you couldn’t do much worse/better than this film. Also, look for cameos by Anthony Head and Christopher Lambert!
Oh, and yes, you do get to see Ghost Rider piss fire. Twice.
Director: Neveldine/Taylor Notable Cast: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds, Johnny Whitworth, Idris Elba and Fergus Riordan.
Mike Noyes received his Masters Degree in Film from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. A few of his short films can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/user/mikebnoyes. He reads tons of comics, watches even more movies and spends the rest of his free time writing.
He also co-wrote and directed the web series Confessions of a Superhero. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXeQnxi4V7h01va0V50R1IQ