I am a Marvel guy. I have stuck by Marvel through some of the hardest times. I tried to find the good in ‘X3: The Last Stand’. I put up with the worst Venom I’ve ever seen in my entire life in ‘Spider-man 3’. And even though I blasted ‘X-men Origins: Wolverine’ and heralded it as one of the worst comic book movies I’ve ever seen, I still found a small glimmer of hope and realized that there never would have been talks of a Deadpool movie if Origins was never made. Marvel has made some really questionable choices in the cinematic world, and they realized this too, because they started making their own movies. But I cannot and will not accept any excuse for this travesty: Letting Nic Cage don the moniker of Ghost Rider for not only one horrible film, but two.
In Sony’s latest attempt to keep character movie rights from Marvel, ‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’ picks up years after the first ‘Ghost Rider’ film. We find Johnny Blaze, played by Nicolas Cage, in a remote part of eastern Europe as he is still struggling with the curse of the Ghost Rider. Moreau, played by Idris Elba, a gun-wielding and boozing priest seeks out Blaze and requests that he save a boy named Danny (who might be Danny Ketch, the second Ghost Rider from the comic book mythology) from being used as a new vessel for the devil. In return for this, Moreau promises to rid Johnny of his curse.
Many people considered ‘The Dark Knight’ a whole new level of superhero movies. Well, congratulations to the ‘Crank’ directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor because they too have taken the superhero to an entirely new level. An entirely new level of suck, that is. They’ve managed to take what was probably one of the worst Marvel movies of modern times and make an even worse sequel. Mark Steven Johnson’s ‘Ghost Rider’ is Academy Award worthy compared to ‘Spirit of Vengeance’. I was so fed up with the film that I didn’t even stay to see if there was a signature Marvel post-credits scene. I bolted the second the screen faded to black and showed the directors names.
One of biggest thing absent from this film was a fully formed story arc. It was more like one long chase scene with horribly clichéd dialogue and corny moments. For example, the very last lines of the film, which I normally wouldn’t share at risk of spoilers, but considering that they have nothing to do with anything, they’re getting shared anyway, went like this: Close up of Johnny Blaze. “Yeah.” Extreme close up. “Hell yeah.” Cut to black. Credits. That’s it. I said, “Are you serious?” and left shaking my head. It was almost as if the directors looked at this movie as a series of X-games events.
They created some impressive shots with their daredevil shooting style, but that doesn’t mean that the sequences that the shots made up were equally impressive. It was an amateur skate video with a Hollywood budget tied together by a loose set of events and a supernatural hero with a flaming head, basically. One scene in particular stands out to me. Johnny is in a quarry of some kind fighting the devil’s minions, but not the supernatural kind. They were human hired hands with no powers, although they had a grenade launcher, so I guess that means they were evenly matched. Anyway, this scene was so one note and boring for me that I started to doze off. Even a giant flaming crane wasn’t enough to keep my interest. I fought off the boredom-induced slumber, however, just so I could get you this review.
Another big, no make that huge, thing missing was a convincing performance from the star. It’s like Nic Cage decided that he was going to present a parody of Ghost Rider. His twitching, high-pitched noises, and attempts at looking bad ass made him look like a crazy person rather than a superhero. His performance was more over the top than a WWE Royal Rumble match, which involves throwing 29 opponents over the top rope to determine a winner. Right, no more wrestling jokes. Although, that one joke was better than any one the “jokes” in this movie. To illustrate my point, I have to tell you that when asked what happens if he has to pee in his Rider form, Blaze says that it’s like a flame thrower. Then we’re shown a graphic of Ghost Rider pissing flames. Pissing. Flames. I thought that the Marvel Knights imprint was supposed to present darker heroes, not amateur piss jokes.
The one good thing I have to say about the film is their portrayal of the Rider. The CGI made him look darker and more brooding compared to the first film, where his head kind of looked like The Bowler’s ball from ‘Mystery Men’, except on fire. But that’s really where the CGI stopped being good. There were times when Johnny was trying to fight back the Rider and the directors chose to have Johnny’s face contort between his own and the Rider’s. It was cartoony and corny and probably not the best choice, although they probably made worse choices throughout the film.
This film was one huge disregard for the character and its history. It’s an insult to the superhero genre and to the fantastic movies that Marvel has been churning out as of late. The only two reasons that I could think of that this movie was even made was because A) Nic Cage was bored so he wanted to do it and B) Sony/Colombia didn’t want to let the rights to Ghost Rider expire and go back to Marvel. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve seen enough. Don’t waste your money on this film. On a scale of 1-5, I give ‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’ a 1 for an overall crappy showing. Not even the appearances of Heimdall or Raiden could save this movie from being so bad.