Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Directed by: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ciarán Hinds, Idris Elba Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: February 17, 2012
PLOT: Johnny Blaze (Cage) needs to rescue a kid the devil is after. If he can pull this off, the curse of the Ghost Rider can be lifted.
WHO'S IT FOR? I have no idea if liking Ghost Rider means you'll like this sequel/continuation. I never saw the first.
Am I going to get crazy Cage? That's really all I care about when we're talking a character whose head is on fire. The directors (Neveldine and Taylor) are known for Crank 2: High Voltage and Jonah Hex. You might be thinking, "Oh no," but I actually liked Crank 2 for all of its high-paced action insanity. I also enjoyed Drive Angry 3D for almost the exact same reasons. Most importantly, I felt like Drive Angry was in on the joke.
There are times when Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance feels like it knows who it is, and rises to the occasion, but not enough times. The beginning starts off with some good action and the basic plot that Johnny Blaze must save a kid for his own selfish deserve to get rid of his alter-ghost-riding-ego. There are plenty of flashbacks and back story. Some of these are told with decent animation, others are told with bad half-screens, and others with pictures of Jerry Springer. They don't really add much to the story and the definitely slow it down. What's odd is, throughout all of this, they never really answer the question of why the devil would turn Johnny Blaze into Ghost Rider, and have Ghost Rider kill evil people on Earth. Is there a shortage in hell? Does the devil need souls just like I need donuts (for energy)? Perhaps this is over-explained in the first, and I'm late to the party. My larger point is, you might as well explain that since you're slowing down the film to explain all of this other nonsense.
Johnny is on a mission, Roarke (Hinds) aka the devil, is after the kid as well. Carrigan (Whitworth) is one of Roarke's minions who develops the power to decay. It seems like this happens to everything he touches, and I became obsessed with trying to figure out if he could control this power, since this is another area the film doesn't bother explaining. Moreau (Elba) is kind of Johnny's cool sidekick, but that's mainly because he's Idris freaking Elba. I could get into the kid and his mom, but really there's not much to them.
Throughout most of the film, it feels like Ghost Rider is just Superman on fire. No one is his equal, so he just goes around destroying bad guys with ease. This film even follows the same pattern as Superman II with Johnny trying to shed his super-human form and just fit in.
Seeing a guy walk around with a flaming skull for a head is laughable lunacy. Unfortunately, it feels like Cage is the only one who gets that. He brings a wacky sense of humor to the role, pointing out how idiotic the whole thing is, and that when there are glimmers of hope for this film. The comedy doesn't keep rolling though. And the action doesn't feel like Crank, but instead Jonah Hex. There are long set pieces that never feel exciting, and you're definitely never nervous for any of these characters. It's like Ghost Rider desperately wants to be R-rated, but won't go overboard/insane (something it totally should be) to try and make a few extra dollars.
Who would have thought having a fire skull for a head would be so forgettable?
FINAL SCORE: 5/10