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I've mentioned before the affection I have for Marvel's "Ghost Rider". How couldn't I? When I started reading it in the 90s I spent a good chunk of my childhood looking for all of the back issues (collected trade or otherwise) just to understand the mythology of such a great character and, not to mention, one of the only horror-action heroes in the world (at the time) that actually cared about crafting a careful character. The more I read the more I grew to adore the hell out of Johnny Blaze (and grow to tolerate Danny Ketch) and the amazingly flavorful amount of different villains the writers had at their disposal.
Review by Ginose
Added: May 04, 2012
Needless to say when I heard a "Ghost Rider" movie was in production I was terribly excited. Then I saw it. HOWEVER, when I heard ANOTHER one was in production, and it would be helmed by the "Crank" boys as well as having some competent writers on the credits I was very excited. Then again, I also expected the villain would be Vengeance. Eh... life is full of disappointments.
Well, you could call this a sequel or a reboot (something Marvel has been enjoying their ability to do, lately) but it begins with Blaze out in hiding again, this time in EUROPE (I guess) of all places... unspecified Europe for the most part... when he's contacted by a drunk, French super-crusader who insists that Blaze must help him and some various religious groups protect a boy that Johnny's ol' pal
Roarke/Satan is after, as it would end any chance of survival mankind has. The Rider is not interested in the least until Elba claims that, if he assists, a group of monks knows a way to relieve Johnny of his curse forever. With that, Ghost Rider goes off on a hyper-violent trail of carnage to chase down the goons that have kidnapped the kid, before they manage to get him to the big-man and complete a strange ritual that will give Satan a permanent, physical and VERY powerful form.
Cage is Cage. Alright? We know this. I can't try to criticize his performance on any ground other than whether or not his wacky persona fits in this character. In that, he definitely fits in this role. Granted his frantic acting flowed like a turd in molasses in the first film, here the directors gave him a lot of room to make his depiction of the burnt-out (pun seriously wasn't intended, but I'm not correcting it now) and slightly manic Blaze is extremely disturbing at times and completely dead at others, but it feels like Nic finally got the fun he wanted out of the first movie. Perhaps in too concentrated a dose at times, though, as his manic-depressive and psychotic state is almost ALWAYS at ends with Idris Elba and Violante Placido's parts, which feel more appropriate for almost all of their shared scenes, making them seem WAY the hell more realistic than Cage at any given point. An unsurprising turn appears in a surprisingly great set of characters in the form of Christopher Lambert as the leader of an order of EXTREMELY connected and devout monks and Johnny Whitworth as the secondary antagonist that becomes Blackout in the third act (Spoiler, I guess? It isn't really. No more so than even mentioning Blackout is in the movie.). They are so much fun in their characters and brought more to this movie then most of the damned story did.
Also, I'd like to give big points to the effects department. This is the BEST looking Ghost Rider I've could have imagined. Insanely bad-ass and somewhat disturbing in its realization of the character's trademark look, they even went on to depict the abilities, combat and deaths in such a bizarrely over-the-top fashion that I couldn't help but giggle with girlish glee. The showcasing of Blackout and the way it shows off his fight scenes were so great that I spent the whole last half of the movie pleading for them to hurry and get to the Rider vs. Blackout fight. Very few superhero movies make me plead that hard for the payoff, but this one did.
Now, regrettably, I reveal the true folly that makes my praise all but meaningless. The editing is some of the worst I've ever seen from an action movie. Ever. I'm not just talking about the stylized scene jumps or fight scenes that Neveldine/Taylor are better k now for, I mean the pacing, assembly, sequence and, in no small way, the story's direction get royal fucked after the introductions are all made. What could have been an interesting and involving series of action scenes is cut down to a mediocre series of chase-scenes with some ultra-violence set in to remind us that this is a Ghost Rider movie. All of the in-betweens (character banter or otherwise) serves no purpose but to drolly expose the plot-points and try to deepen the characters that CLEARLY HAD NO DESIRE TO BE DEEPENED! In the end this editing and story-structure alone drag down the pure enjoyability of the whole affair down way too much to be overlooked. If the focus was on high-camp and gore, like the directors' other three efforts, this would have been the PERFECT superhero movie but, in the end, it's just favorable to its predecessor and completely destroyed by its brother pieces ("The Avengers" films and the other Marvel Knights film "Punisher: War Zone"). This isn't an unfair comparison by any means, it just hurts to see the work crippled so sourly. It's still a lot of dumb fun, but not in a neat, tidy package, as it needed to be.
In the end "Spirit of Vengeance" lacks some of the fundamental things that would make it a great movie. This hurts to say, because I enjoyed the shit out of it; it's fun, violent, has an entertaining take on the mythos and, in the end, kept my attention for its total run time. A lot of the performances are good, but only Elba and Lambert stick out as great and the overall pacing, as stated, is royally fucked thanks to some terrible editing choices. I liked the shit out of it, but it's not a great movie... at all. 6.3/10.
Subtract three points if you liked the first one. Also, if this is true, you've terrible tastes. And add a point if you like seeing Anthony Stewart Head actually in stuff. Also, if this is true, you've great tastes.
- added 06/02/2012, 04:54 AM
You know, Marvel kicked out a shitty Hulk movie
with a lackluster star. They made amends. Why the
in the fucking hell would they not correct their
mistakes here? First of all, Cage is done. Over.
Washed. I wanted to punch him every time he did
that manic laugh schtick. You don't bring him back
to a role he absolutely ruined, and you especially
don't put in so many close-ups of his face so the
audience is forced to notice that he's 111 years
old. Secondly, you don't bring in Neveldine and
Taylor and put them in the driver's seat. There
are some directors (Uwe Boll comes to mind) that
are just plain bad, and they can't seem to help
it, but these two are even worse. Like Friedberg
and Seltzer, they actually believe the particular
traits that make them awful directors (in this
case cartoony, music video editing and overlays)
are actually positives. Hinds sucked. Riordan
sucked. So much potential blatantly pissed away.
Every name in this paragraph needs a bullet in the
back of the skull, execution style.
- added 01/12/2015, 03:49 AM
It's amazing that this actually is worse than the
- added 02/12/2015, 07:17 PM
I enjoyed the first. This was okay. The story was
kind of lame.