Friday, February 17, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

No matter what you can say about Nicolas Cage, he manages to entertain you in some way whether he's in a good or bad movie. Even when you watch him in an awful film like The Wicker Man, his over-the-top acting entertains the hell out of you. The first Ghost Rider movie didn't really showcase that exquisite talent of Cage's, but it's sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance certainly showcases it! Directed by the frenetic style of the cult favorite Neveldine/Taylor duo, does this sequel fire on all cylinders, or should it have been extinguished before production went underway?

After the events of the first film, Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is hiding out in Eastern Europe. However, he's brought out of hiding from an old friend named Moreau (Idris Elba), who offers him a job to save this boy (Fergus Riordan) from the Devil that's trying to use him as an earth form. Blaze soon accepts the mission, and he teams up with Morceau and the boy's mother (Violante Placido) to follow through. Unfortunately, they're being pursued by Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth), a mercenary ordered by the Devil to bring the boy to the proper venue of the ritual. And if that's not enough going on, Blaze finds out that there's a chance he can rid himself of his curse if he completes the mission. You know, a comic book movie like this shouldn't have that much going on. Instead that amount of subplots belong in a hyperlink cinema movie.
Even though his career is a 50/50 split on the movies he has starred in, I still stick up for Nicolas Cage because of how he manages to be highly entertaining in just about every movie he stars in. In this film, his crazy over-the-top acting returns in solid form. His dialogue is riddled of unintentionally funny lines, but the way he delivers them wholeheartedly hearkens back to why I love Cage's acting so much. One scene that highlights this aspect is where he's trying to hide his transformation into the Ghost Rider, and he also breaks into maniacal Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans- esque laughter. Besides Cage though, there's nobody else that even comes close to his acting. Idris Elba's performance is extremely limited, as he's really treated more as an extended cameo rather than a true supporting role. On the other hand, Violante Placido and Fergus Riordan are awful in their performances as the mother-son duo. They both have no emotional range in their line delivery as they remain one-note throughout, and they have no chemistry whatsoever when they're on screen together. Johnny Whitworth is as over-the-top as Nicolas Cage is as the villain Blackout, but almost every one of his lines is a stupid pun that had me laughing for all the wrong reasons.

The slightest reason I had any interest in the film was that the Crank guys Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor were directing it. The duo have a frenetic style that speeds up the pacing of their films to a very fast degree, and most of that's due to the rapid fire editing and tight, sometimes even renegade camera angles. Usually when there's a chase in their films, one of them will strap on rollerblades to film the scene at a high speed. Additionally, their films feature many instances of over-the-top, weird moments that will either make you laugh or roll your eyes. If you're a fan of this duo's directing style like me, then you'll easily be able to point out their directing perks throughout. However besides some decent action sequences, the film's PG-13 rating severely limits them of their famous tactics, and all that they really get to work with are their swift filming techniques, which compared to their past films is a massive disappointment.
The fact that this film had three writers contribute to the screenplay highlights the lazy thoughtlessness that this film reeks of. The dialogue is so painstakingly piss poor throughout, and they have a heavy reliance on puns that fall extremely flat. For some odd reason though, the film for awhile feels plotless as it really doesn't go anywhere for the first 15-20 minutes or so. The "plot" that they do construct feels senselessly shallow and underwritten, and it makes me feel that the Neveldine/Taylor duo at least should've been able to do a complete rewrite of the script to enhance it's vague tone.

I have seen only ten minutes of the first Ghost Rider, but if I someday finally manned up and watched it, I would still think that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is the superior film. However, that really does not say much at all due to the endless amount of problems this entry has. Despite the huge amount of problems I had with it, Nicolas Cage's over-the-top acting and the slick direction by the Neveldine/Taylor duo save it from being even worse than the first film. This is not a comic book movie that you need to rush out to see in theaters, as instead it's one that you just wait to premiere on a premium network so you save some money.

Final Grade: C-

Review of "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" on Yotuube 

1 comment:

  1. Of course this would be better than the first one, seeing as the first is a watered down, piss poor kiddy attempt at one of Marvels darkest heroes. I would like to see a proper R rated Ghost Rider, it worked for Blade, why not for the Rider? Good review, Tyler