The following contains only mild spoilers.
Now before we get started, let me tell you one main thing about myself.
I like just about every movie I’ve ever seen.
I can usually find something I like, be it either acting, music, camera work or even scenery.
The only two films that come to mind I haven’t enjoyed are SUPERNOA with James Spader and Angela Basset, which just felt like someone was kicking me in the private parts for an hour and 20 minutes and INSIDIOUS, which felt like that same producer waited 12 years to come into my house and start kicking me again.
That said, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance should only be watched by people who like 4 things.
1) Ghost Rider
2) Nic Cage
3) Corny/fun movies
4) Nic Cage
If you don’t like even one of those, chances are you won’t like this one.
GHSoV starts out with a great vehicle chase on one of those small and windy roads you could only find in Europe, where they treat making roads like a kid making Hot Wheel tracks.
The origin story is told through an artistic scan that’s a little better than those Marvel motion comics. It’s quick, a little different from the origin given to us in the first movie and has Nic Cage saying dialogue only Nic Cage could say.
The movie continues as we’re introduced a more to Danny (note to producers of comic book movies. DO NOT name characters after established comic book characters like Danny Ketch. It’s not an homage, it’s irritating.) and to Danny’s mom, Nadya, who is apparently ok with stealing and lying to get her kid away from the Devil, played by Ciarán Hinds, which I get.
They are being looked after by self-appointed savior, Moreau, who also rides a motorbike. He knows Johnny Blaze is Ghost Rider and tries to get him to help.
Now, let’s take a minute to examine what’s going on with this new, very new, Ghost Rider.
Nic Cage plays it like a crazy Bruce Banner. The demon inside him is fighting to get out like a dog behind a short fence after seeing a mailman. He acts like it’s screaming and clawing to get out. Johnny drinks…a lot…. to keep it in.
At one point while interrogating someone who might know needed information, we see the GR’s skull popping in and out of Johnny’s face like air in a sleeping bag you’re trying to roll up. You keep pushing down on one side, then another air pocket pops up somewhere else.
It’s at this point I realized, Cage is playing Ash from Evil Dead and the makers of the film are using their favorite techniques from that movie on the Ghost Rider.
Cage screams and laughs through several scenes as the Rider makes him crazy.
Finally, after Danny has been kidnapped, Johnny can hold on no more and lets the Rider go.
When we first get to see Ghost Rider in action, it’s immediately apparent this isn’t the Ghost Rider from the first movie.
*Note: The MARVEL KNIGHTS banner should have given you a clue as it was also used in the extremely violent Punisher: War Zone.)
This Ghost Rider laughs a creepy laugh as he first stands in place, waiting for an attack like a creepy Michael Myers. And that’s what it feels like the entire time.
This Ghost Rider is a killer. He’s a demon. He’s evil and a monster and he SHOULD scare the bee-jeebers out of you. The camera work and sudden movements of the Rider make him a cross between Michael Myers with a slight ALIENS overtone. There are quick cuts where the Rider is in one place, then runs at you with with jerky cuts usually saved for movies like Paranormal Activity.
This is not a Ghost Rider that, like the first film, you hang out with a go kick some bad guys butts. This is a Ghost Rider you call on as a weapon of mass destruction. A weapon you aim and hope it hits the target because it’s going take out a few more things on the way.
In other words, he’s twice as nasty and a lot more understandable as a Spirit of VENGEANCE.
Ghost Rider has some great scenes and some slower scenes that could have been cut, but overall, it’s a different take on the saner, more calmer version we saw earlier. The Ghost Rider from the first movie and the Ghost Rider from this movie are about as different as the two Punisher movies.
Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor shot this movie in Europe, which is a good fit for GR. I always felt putting GR in the city, like the first version, was like bringing Jason Vorhees into Manhattan. Besides, the European feel gives GR a better sense of weirdness and foreboding.
This movie doesn’t have a “Save the World” feel like Superman Returns or Green Lantern. More of a “A religious thing is happening and here’s GR to deal with it”, type of feel.
The heavy metal soundtrack works nice. GR isn’t a trumpets blaring hero anyway. He’s a lean mean fiery machine.
Nic Cage does have some tough scenes to do, not to mention some cringe worthy dialogue at times, but I can see what the producers were trying to do.
Make Ghost Rider evil again and in my mind, they did.While the “evil” characters don’t really feel like they should be feared, like Blackout, who renders things old and rotted and the Devil, who basically walks around the film and rides the train to get places, it’s still fun watching the Rider come barreling in to save the day.
So again, if you don’t like Cage or Ghost Rider or roll your eyes when someone mentions movies that are tongue firmly in cheek, I would skip it.
But if you’re the kind of person who can just shut their brain off, doesn’t mind letting $10 go and want to have some fun, I’d definitely recommend seeing it.