Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" Raises a Little Hell

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 69 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)
Running time: 95 minutes (1 hour, 35 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, and language
DIRECTOR: Neveldine/Taylor
WRITERS: Scott M. Gimple & Seth Hoffman and David S. Goyer; from a story by David S. Goyer (based upon the Marvel Comics character)
PRODUCERS: Ashok Amritraj, Ari Arad, Avi Arad, Michael De Luca, and Steven Paul
EDITOR: Brian Berdan
COMPOSER: David Sardy


Starring: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitmorth, Fergus Riordan, Anthony Head, and Christopher Lambert

The subject of this movie review is Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, a 2012 superhero, action, and horror movie from directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who jointly work under the moniker, Neveldine/Taylor. Ghost Rider is a Marvel Comics character that was created by writers Roy Thomas and Mark Friedrich and artist Mike Ploog and that first appeared in the comics magazine, Marvel Spotlight #5 (1972).

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is a sequel to the 2007 film, Ghost Rider, and, as in the first film, Oscar-winning actor, Nicolas Cage, plays the title roll. Spirit of Vengeance, which finds Ghost Rider trying to protect a child from the devil, is much better than the first film, although it is by no means great.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance opens in a monastery in Eastern Europe. There, the monk, Benedict (Anthony Head), and his brothers are hiding a mother, Nadya (Violante Placido), and her son, Danny (Fergus Riordan). Apparently, the Devil Mephisto wants Danny in order to complete some kind of ritual.

A French priest named Moreau (Idris Elba) decides to take matters into his own hands after Mephisto’s forces attack the monastery. Moreau seeks out Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage), who is also the Ghost Rider, the fiery spirit of vengeance whose head is a flaming skull. Blaze sold his soul to Mephisto, who is currently going by the name, Roarke (Ciaran Hinds), which is why the Ghost Rider is inside him. After Ghost Rider proves to be too much of problem for him, Roarke turns one of his stooges into Blackout (Johnny Whitmorth), a supernatural creature that can take on the Rider.

One thing I can say about the directing team, Neveldine/Taylor, is that the duo has style, and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance has got style. The film is visually snazzy, spunky, and even cool. The action scenes are quite good, and the computer effects (CGI) don’t look phony and are an improvement over the CGI in the first film.

The story is different, seeming unique although it mines familiar territory – the hero trying to save a vulnerable woman or child from being possessed by the Devil. That’s probably because Spirit of Vengeance is not like other movies based on comic book superheroes, and of course, Ghost Rider isn’t like other superheroes. The script has some good ideas, which is not surprising considering that one of Spirit of Vengeance’s screenwriters is David S. Goyer, who has written horror movies and movies based on comic books, including the Blade franchise, which combines both.

The problems with Spirit of Vengeance are the characters and the acting. There is no character development, nor are the characters really interesting. There are some novel and interesting things about them, but that does not translate into wholly interesting characters. The acting is bad. Sometimes, I cannot tell if Nicolas Cage is hamming for the cameras or is simply phoning in a performance. Idris Elba tries, but even his honest effort cannot save Moreau from seeming unintentionally comical or not funny when the character is supposed to be comical.

Still, I find Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance to be much better than the first film. The action and the visual effects pop enough to make me actually want more of this.

6 of 10

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for reviewing Ghost Rider: Spirits of Vengeance, Leroy! I recently learned from coworker from DISH that my Hopper DVR supports 3D pay per views; I had to check it out and Spirits of Vengeance was my first choice. The 3D looked awesome; I don’t think I will go to the theater anymore! The great looking 3D didn’t really help the film in any significant way. My biggest problem with either film is Nic Cage. I have never liked him as an actor but he is particularly hammy in as the Rider. If a super hero film series ever needed a reboot it would be Ghost Rider; sans Nic Cage!