Jamedog Reviews Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
A bit late, but Jamedog tosses his two cents in on the latest cinematic adventure of the Spirit of Vengeance. Was it better than the first? Worse? Or more or less the same?
There was a point when my friends and I were walking out of the theater after the movie, each of us sharing our thoughts on what we had just witnessed, and my friend Kevin said "That was... a movie."
In the end, that's all you can really say about Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, its a movie. There's moving pictures, dialogue, and characters (if you want to call them that), but that's about it. Granted, going into the theater, I had read some pretty bad reviews already, and seeing how local theaters didn't even deem this movie worthy of a midnight release on opening night, I wasn't expecting much.
I'll say it, I think this was better than 2007's Ghost Rider, but not by much. In many ways, this was far more perplexing to watch. There's so many problems with this movie, I really don't know where to start. I guess I'll just start with the beginning and work my way down.
Even before we got to the actual action, we're are informed via subtitle that this takes place in "Eastern Europe"... Yep, the screenwriters didn't even go out of their way to pick a country, just somewhere in Eastern Europe. Good job. From there, we move to the opening action, taking place in a monastery of sorts.
The opening sequence gained major geek points for featuring Anthony Steward Head, AKA Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but this opening shootout/chase really set the mood of the film... and not a good one. I can only imagine that watching this movie is what having ADD is like. The filmmakers seemed to be too damn impatient to have to deal with things like story set up, character development, etc. At one point, they cut to young Danny Ketch and his mom (I'll be honest, I have no idea what her name was, and I don't think anyone involved with the movie did either) running from the bad guys and you have no idea who they are. They just randomly show up in this opening fight between Idris Elba and the bad guys, and apparently we're meant to care for these people.
Second, we move to when Idris Elba, who's named Moreau (or as I called him, awesome French bad-ass) recruiting Johnny Blaze to help protect the up until now nameless mother and son. Once again, ADD kicks in as the film overlooks how Moreau knew where to find Blaze, who Blaze is, and other important things. And really, the whole movie kind of proceeds this way. It really doesn't stop to give us things like exposition or character development.
It's perplexing that a movie like this proceeds at such a pace, because despite seeming like it was written by a hyper-active 14 year old, nothing really happens. The characters talk a lot about the "story" but the story is insanely basic: The Devil wants to inhabit his son's body. But really, nothing really happens in this movie. A couple chases, talking, chase, talking, etc.
As for the action scenes, they're pretty meh as well. The main problem with the action is that it places Ghost Rider, who is already insanely over-powered, against a bunch of dudes with guns. We never once doubt that the Rider will beat the bad guys and once again bail Danny and his nameless mother out of trouble (except for the first fight scene where Ghost Rider is taken out by a grenade... and yet inexplicably walks away from a stinger missile in a later fight). Later on, a supernatural villain is introduced named Blackout (not to be confused with the first movie's villain, Blackheart) but he never really comes off as threatening either.
Also, just a side rant, but Satan is an idiot in both Ghost Rider movies. Why does he curse Blaze with an all powerful demon of vengeance? And when Blaze uses this demon against him, why doesn't Satan un-curse him so that he isn't a further thorn in his side? Also, Satan turns one of his henchmen into Blackout, giving him the ability to cause anything he touches to decay,but why give them this power when he's charged with bringing Danny to Satan alive? As soon as he touches the kid, wouldn't he die? Maybe the Devil should think things through a little more.
But anyway, back to the review. The acting is... well what do you expect? Nick Cage phones it in when he isn't comedically overacting (a scene where he interrogates a bad guy while laughing hysterically is well... hysterical). The kid who plays Danny Ketch does little more than look angry, Ciaran Hinds cashes a check as The Devil, or Roarke, as he's called in this. The only actor who seems to be trying is Idris Elba, who has great fun with his role (and shows real action hero chops).
The thing is, I knew what I was getting into. I love bad movies. I seek them out. I find bad movies more fun than most comedies, so I sought this out because I was hoping it would be bad, and it was, but the main problem with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is that it's such a mixed bag. There are moments of absurdity that really could have made this stand out, but then there will be long moments where the movie takes itself extremely seriously. A character like Ghost Rider needs to be over the top. Not as over the top as the previous movie, but in a Grindhouse/cheesy action film kind of way. This movie isn't nearly as over the top as it should have been and just isn't exciting. It reminds me of when I would watch re-runs of the old Incredible Hulk show and I would never be invested in it because I knew that the bad guys, usually just common criminals, were never any match for the Hulk. Nobody in this movie is really a match for Ghost Rider, hell GR even makes insanely short work of The Devil himself.
So if you love bad movies, see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance because it's like Christmas. But as a comic book fan and a film geek, it's extremely disappointing to see such a cool character wasted again.
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