Saturday, 18 February 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Year:  2012
Director:   Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
Screenplay:  Scott Gimple, Seth Hoffman and David Goyer, from a story by David Goyer, based on the comic book character Ghost Rider created by Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog
Starring:  Nicolas Cage, Fergus Riordan, Ciaran Hinds, Violante Placido, Johnny Whitworth, Idris Elba, Christopher Lambert
Running Time:  95 minutes
Genre:  Horror, fantasy, action, supernatural, superhero

Here we go with the not so eagerly awaited sequel to the superhero clunker Ghost Rider (2007), based on the Marvel Comics character.  The film tells the story of Johnny Blaze (Cage) a motorcycle stunt rider who makes a deal with the Devil (Hinds) in order to save the life of his father.  However, the deal means that whenever Blaze is in the presence of any kind of wrongdoer he transforms into the "Ghost Rider", a demonic creature with a flaming skull for a head riding a tricked out motorcycle (anything that he happens to be riding on when he transforms is transformed as well).  In order to escape the curse, Blaze moves to a remote area somewhere in Eastern Europe, where he is found by alcoholic monk Moreau (Elba).  Apparently, the Devil has sent his minons out after a mother, Nadya (Placido), and her thirteen year old son, Danny (Riordan).  The Devil, it soon turns out, is the boy's father.  If Blaze can foil the Devil and keep Nadya and Danny safe, Moreau promises to lift the Ghost Rider curse.  Blaze reluctantly agrees and they soon set off on a run around through Eastern Europe, pursued by the Devil's henchman Carrigan (Whitworth).

This film, which is released in 3D, is a mess.  It never seems to know how seriously to take itself and the cast seem to come from different movies.  Placido and Riordan play it as a drama, Elba plays it as a alight-hearted action movie, Hinds plays the Devil like a gangster, and Nicolas Cage is so over the top he appears to have gone off over the Moon somewhere.  This provides for some hysterical scenes.  In one scene Cage is interrogating a bad guy while trying to keep his Ghost Rider side repressed bellowing that the demon is "ScratchIINNNGG... at... the... DOOORRRR!!!"  There are also irritating comic interludes which distract  from the story (the scene with the Ghost Rider peeing fire while nodding at the camera and chuckling does a lot to rob the character of any mystique or tension he might have once had).  The 3D is serviceable and does provide some entertainment when they are barrelling along the roads.  The computer effects are serviceable but little more, which isn't really good enough for a movie with such a heavy reliance on visual effects.  There are also bizarre animated interludes in order to explain the plot and provide some exposition.  The story itself, with it's liberal borrowings from other religious themed movies, is nothing that has not been done before and done better.

Fans of the original, if any, might enjoy the film, but otherwise it just provides still more proof that Nicolas Cage's career is on a sad downward trajectory, which is a real pity because he has done such great work in the past. 

The dangers of smoking in Ghost Rider:  Spirit of Vengeance


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