Josh Wilding Reviews: GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE

Did manage to exceed expectations and surpass the miserable 2007 effort or is it even worse? Well, the answer is a little of both and you can read my spoiler-free review right here.

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By Josh Wilding - 2/17/2012


I wanted to like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, I really did. The trailers and TV spots were surprisingly good, and while I was well aware that Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor aren't exactly the best filmmakers out there, their past work was enough to surely guarantee a watchable action flick. Apparently not. In fact, the directing duo of Neveldine/Taylor can now sit comfortably alongside the likes of Uwe Boll as the worst of the worst. Simply put, the film is a mess, and while it at least delivers on some of the promise of what we've so far seen, the sequel (which is arguably more of a reboot) ends up being nearly as bad as Ghost Rider's cinematic debut back in 2007. The latest "Marvel Knights" movie isn't so bad that you shouldn't at least give some thought to checking it out this weekend, but you WILL feel every single minute of the 1hr 36m running time. It admittedly has its moments, but they are few and far between.

The script is horrendous. No real plot exists, and what does is incredibly weak and predictable. The dialogue is so bad that you'll find yourself laughing in all the wrong places, while the characters are as paper thin as the pages from the comic books that the movie is so loosely based upon. Spirit of Vengeance is a mixture of reboot and sequel, but it's hard to imagine anyone who hasn't seen either the first movie or read a comic book starring the character being anything other than incredibly confused. We get some back story, but the choppy way that it's presented results in Blaze's motivations becoming less clear rather than more. Scenes are edited together jarringly and the insertion of strange little montages and cartoon-like sequences give the film the distinct feel of the sort of fan made rubbish you can find with a simple Google search. Oh, and that ending really is quite something. Shockingly abrupt and utterly baffling.

Nicolas Cage portrays Johnny Blaze in a camp and downright ridiculous fashion. While this may have worked for Big Daddy in Kick-Ass, his performance here is more akin to his ridiculed appearance in the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man. One moment in particular (in which he interrogates a thug while laughing hysterically as he tries not to transform into the Ghost Rider) will more than likely end up ranking alongside the infamous, "Not the bees, my eyes, my eyes!" scene on YouTube in the near future. In fairness, it can't be denied that his decision to also play the Ghost Rider adds at least something to that half of the character, but the fact his movements are so bizarre and often cringe worthy that they end up making him more laughable than anything else. It looks creepy for all the wrong reasons. Meanwhile, Ciaran Hinds' Rourke/The Devil is not in the least bit threatening and his performance comes across as a mixture of pantomime villain and a stroke victim. Johnny Whitworth is no better as Carrigan, a one dimensional thug for the first half of the movie and equally uninteresting as Blackout in the second. Neither his appearance or powers make up for just how bland a villain he is. Violante Placido puts in a good performance as Nadya, while Idris Elba is perhaps the films only real saving grace as Moreau. However, with little screentime, poor characterisation and and mostly awful dialogue, it's hard to really praise anyone. Neither Elba or Placido have a lot to work with, and Fergus Riordan's forgettable take on a young Danny (Ketch?) is barely worth mentioning.

The special effects are impressive and Ghost Rider really does look fantastic. While Blaze is in his fiery form, the leather on his jacket bubbles and steams, and the way in which the flaming skull slowly dies out as he becomes weaker is an impressive and visually pleasing touch. However, the decision to have the Ghost Rider move towards his foes so fast is an odd one, with it ultimately appearing as if he's a silly stop motion creation of some sort. The practical effects also impress, although the various pursuits and action sequences don't really get much more exciting than what we've already seen in the trailer. Unfortunately, the 3D effects are nowhere near as effective, serving only as a reminder of why seeing any film that wasn't shot in the format or at least converted properly is a waste of time and money. In fact, there isn't a single moment where the 3D helps improve the, ahem, "story" or action sequences. If you really must watch Spirit of Vengeance , do so in 2D.

Even fans of the comic books will find it hard to like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. As the first comic book movie of 2012, it's hard to imagine that it will end up being anything other than the worst. At least things can only get better from here...





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NerdyGeek - 2/17/2012, 11:24 AM
This is the scene Josh is talking about in the third paragraph.

CPBuff22 - 2/17/2012, 11:29 AM
I actually enjoyed the movie. It was quite a bit different than other super hero films. Not as much crazy fights and cool gadgets as what we have become custom to. Very much had a National Treasure feel to it. Plus it was much darker than the original. Was it AWESOME? No. But I would say a solid three to three and a half stars. Far better than Green Lantern was though.
HelaGood - 2/17/2012, 11:30 AM
great review, josh! but i will wait for the video...

MassExecutions - 2/17/2012, 11:30 AM


HOW DO YOU FAIL AT THIS?

ITS AN ACTION MOVIE ABOUT A SKELETON, THAT IS ON FIRE RIDING A MOTORCYCLE, FIGHTING DEMONS!
DCnerd46 - 2/17/2012, 11:32 AM
Thanks for the review, I plan on seeing the movie some time w/in the next week. I was worried before about everything that you wound up mentioning. Especially Nicolas Cage, I think he's a horrible actor. But I do still plan on seeing the movie for myself, definitely in 2D (thanks for that heads up BTW).
marvel72 - 2/17/2012, 11:34 AM
as long as its better than the first abortion thats a plus point in its favor.
jessepostal - 2/17/2012, 11:39 AM
@TheIrishAvenger, i think that part is great!! it reminds me of evil dead when ash is getting thrown thru the air.Going to see it tonight!!
Jolt17 - 2/17/2012, 11:39 AM
Spot on with the interrogation scene and the ridiculous moves of the Ghost Rider. Of why they agreed to portray the character in such ways, I still can't fathom. Great review, man. :)
Stumblin - 2/17/2012, 11:42 AM
One question Josh, did the demons actually take a demon form? Or was it basically the same look from the first one where they get sharp teeth, black eyes and pale...other words they just look lame.
plasticman - 2/17/2012, 11:46 AM
It feels like you have Dragnetted the first movie here. Are you sure this isn't your review of the first movie and you just changed the names of the innocents? Really, though, while I don't find it surprising you think they would have learned from the mistakes of its predessor.

So, Josh, should I watch Ghost Rider: SOV or stay home and watch Reynolds in Green Lantern?
MassExecutions - 2/17/2012, 11:46 AM
Okay, gotta look on the bright side. It rights will go back to marvel now, right? Sony won't try and make another one, WILL THEY?
ClarkStark - 2/17/2012, 11:47 AM
@Intruder

Good question! Probably won't but who knows.
Kayo - 2/17/2012, 11:54 AM
Marvel Studio = justice to Ghostrider
marvel72 - 2/17/2012, 11:54 AM
@ intruder

it only had an $80,000,000 budget,it shouldn't have a problem getting its money back.

you never know i could be wrong. :D
LtAnarchy - 2/17/2012, 11:57 AM
^ Thats going to be deleted next
golden123 - 2/17/2012, 12:03 PM
@Badbear: C'mon, stop being immature. Leave Josh alone. Why do you care so much anyways?
ecksmanfan - 2/17/2012, 12:05 PM
mASS! Hi!
LtAnarchy - 2/17/2012, 12:06 PM
man now my comment looks out of place josh. at least delete my post to.
golden123 - 2/17/2012, 12:06 PM
I am almost positive that this film will make significantly less than the first. Which would mean it would gross less than GL. Plus, GL had better advertising than this film.
golden123 - 2/17/2012, 12:08 PM
@LtAnarchy: You can delete your own post, if you want, by clicking on that trash can in the top right corner of your comment.
uman347 - 2/17/2012, 12:08 PM
I just saw this movie and I know it is going to get bad reviews but the thing is is that this is a guilty pleasure movie, If you are not really into Ghost Rider but you love mindless action movies you will enjoy this movie, I knew it was a bad movie as I was watching it but at the same time I really enjoyed it for the humor and action
golden123 - 2/17/2012, 12:10 PM
@Badbear: I'm still able to find great news on movies I care about. Why can't you just be happy with the positive and not pester the people giving you this wonderful information?
JoshWilding - 2/17/2012, 12:10 PM
Thanks for the feedback guys, always appreciated. :) I really did want to enjoy the movie and I know ** seems harsh, but the appalling direction, script and acting (not to mention the pointless 3D) makes even that a generous score! I'm sure some people will enjoy it more than I did, but I find that hard to imagine...still, each to their own.

Stumblin: Apart from looking as if he's had a stroke and one eye being bloodshot, The Devil is about as threatening as...well, Ciaran Hinds in a suit, lol. Unfortunately, things don't get any more demonic than the dodgy looking make-up on Blackout.
Stumblin - 2/17/2012, 12:11 PM
unman347, not true, just because you enjoy mindless action movies does not mean you have to enjoy ALL mindless action movies.
Stumblin - 2/17/2012, 12:13 PM
@JoshWilding...LAME! They could have least gotten that right...Oh well, thanks for a great review, I will probably never watch this movie in it's entirety, much like Catwoman, never seen the whole thing just enough to know it sucks.
JackBauer - 2/17/2012, 12:17 PM
I never listen to critics or reviews but after seeing that clip TheIrishAvenger posted I'll wait for this to hit Redbox or maybe even Netflix.
Whoisstanlee - 2/17/2012, 12:22 PM
I just got back from the movie theatre. Although this is a fair review I do feel like I need to defend this movie a little.

I personally really enjoyed the new feel/rebooting of the movie; the new bike, the Scott Pilgrimesque shots that look like they've come straight out of a comic.

I found that by picturing this more as a comic book on the screen as opposed to a movie made me "get it" more.

Granted Nick Cage had his usual freakout during the interrogation I thought there were some moments that were great, like the very last scene for example I really enjoyed. His cobra thing was cool too when he wasn't just standing there awkwardly for like 2 minutes while they were stealing the kid.

I'd give this 3.5 stars. Mainly because I enjoy every comic book movie ever made (EVEN Fantastic Four and Green Lantern). But that's just me.

Love the review Josh!
Ranger14 - 2/17/2012, 12:24 PM
Based on that review I am trying to figure out the "little of both" mentioned in the description. Here I thought there was going to be something positive based on that. Guess not. My lady wants to see it, so I will be seeing it without much choice in the matter. :-P
Stumblin - 2/17/2012, 12:28 PM
@SuspenseSmith, I normally can't stand Cage, but you're right. When he's not overly acting he can do a pretty damn good job. One of my favorite movies is Lord of War.

However, he also ruins movies like Kick-Ass and Ghost Rider, though Ghost Rider sucked on every level and not just because of Cage.
MassExecutions - 2/17/2012, 12:29 PM
@ecksmanfan - Hi, ecks!

@BluePallando - I don't think ghost rider is any more ridiculous than dozen's of other characters. Is a demon on a motorcycle more ridiculous than sentient alien robots committed to disguising them selves as one particular vehicle? Or hell, sparkly vampires?!?

See, what Ghost Rider lacks in "realism", if that means anything, he makes up for in cool design and capacity for fantastic action scenes. Why directors haven't been able to capitalize on this, I don't understand.

As for it being able to be successful, I refuse to believe you couldn't have taken Ghost Rider and made it at least as financially successful as Blade.
jazzman - 2/17/2012, 12:50 PM
@Josh Wilding

love your reviews bro. to always speak the truth when it comes to your movie reviews.

we should not be surprise this movie sucked a$$ cause remember Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor wrote the script of the god awful Jonah Hex movie.

xXkryptoniteXx - 2/17/2012, 12:57 PM
@intruder

So when your bashing any dc movies it's actually the hate you have for anything else other then marvel. I wanted to see this movie, he'll I even prepare my self and watch ghost rider the first one and try to accept for hat it is(still better then elektra) but when people who reviewed it said
"worst then the first one"
"expecting dumb action movie, don't expect it"
"the directors are the new uwe boll"<----whoa you said uwe boll
Count me out, I watched uwe boll movies and I just laugh just watching it lol
I'll wait for this movie on DVD and yes i said DVD.
Stumblin - 2/17/2012, 1:04 PM
@SuspenseSmith, good point! I never thought about that, I guess it depends on what director he's paired with. That explains why some of his movies he's overly eccentric then other times he actually proves to be a good actor.
BlueHawaiiSurfer - 2/17/2012, 1:11 PM
As soon as I heard Cage was attached I lost any interest in seeing these films. Haven't seen the first one, won't see this one. Sounds like my "hunch" was correct though, although Cage is not solely to blame.
brewtownpsych - 2/17/2012, 1:28 PM
Not surprised, like most of us I called it. If u go to this movie you are part of the problem. You know who you are. This site should be frequented by people who are not okay giving their hard earned dollars to hollywood to see this crap - sends the wrong message.

Oh and nice review. 4 and 1/2 stars out 5 for the review itself. Minor quibble: more succint, don't be afraid to chop well written stuff if it makes the entire piece punchier, IMO. |) <--- cyclops smiling
GreyChaos13Zero - 2/17/2012, 1:42 PM
movie might not be that great but Ghost Rider still looks evil! I'll gave it a shot when it's out on blu-ray tho?)
jazzman - 2/17/2012, 1:48 PM
@Intruder

dude DC Fanboys never said only Ryan Reynolds lol

Action - 2/17/2012, 1:57 PM
Giving this movie 2 stars is laughable.

Another great Marvel character like wolverine, has been given a shitty movie.
RobertDanger - 2/17/2012, 2:08 PM
You know, it really pisses me off that everybody goes to the movies now, prepared to have a bad time. They've made their minds up on what the movie is about, the performances, the effects, before they've even sat down.

If you're really that pissed off about a movie already, why are you paying to see it? Just to get more material for your impotent rage fueled review?

And to the people on here saying 'Wah wah it could have been so much better'....no, it really couldn't have. Ghost Rider is not a character that would ever work as a major big budget film. Audiences wouldn't get it. Comic storylines and movie scripts seldom, if ever, meet. Don't believe me? Take a look at some of the boring DC/Marvel animated features.
Christuffer - 2/17/2012, 2:20 PM
I guess we just have to love it for what it is. These two are the only Ghost Rider movies we got
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