Somehow I missed out on the millions of voices screaming for a sequel to Nicolas Cage’s 2007 Ghost Rider movie. The original wasn’t exactly well received by fans, but it must have made enough money to convince the Producers to give it another go in a “bigger” and more “showy” version. I liked the first Ghost Rider well enough, so I’ll admit when I saw the trailer, I was pretty excited to see this.
I did not know it was directed by Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor the folks behind the truly wretched Crank Series. All of the over the top, poorly directed, “look at me” cues from their previous films are here. Movies like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance do not need to have a great story or acting, but I do require good action scenes.
Every action scene looks as if the directors were high on something when they shot it. It’s frenetic, confused, and contain a million directorial gimmicks – shaky cam quick cuts, slow motion, this weird thing where the screen goes dark when the bad guy strikes. I understand what the Directors were trying to do with the “Carrigan Vision,” thing but it just looked cheap and stupid. Most of all, it just wasn’t innovative and poorly staged. I actually looked forward to the quiet scenes.
Cinematographer Brandon Trost (Crank) does a nice job with the camera work. He’s not given much to shoot, but there are some nice wide-angle shots of Eastern Europe. The 3D does not ruin this movie, but it doesn’t add anything to justify the premium price either. There is not one moment in this film where the 3D will wow you. All it does is add depth to some of the nice outdoor photography work.
The story by Scott M. Gimple (screenplay) & Seth Hoffman (screenplay) and David S. Goyer is paint by the numbers affair about some kid who the Devil desperately wants. A mysterious French religious man Moreau (Idris Elba) gets Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage) to protect the boy and his mother Nadya (Violante Placido).
Generally, I’m a big fan of Nicolas Cage, his well known comic book fandom lends a bit of “street cred” when he does parts like this. This time I never got the feeling that his heart was really into this. Ghost Rider, with his big flaming head, looks ridiculous on the big screen. It does not help that the Directors thought it was “cool” to show him, literally, “pissing” fire. Just groan inducing. Idris is awesome in the BBC series Luthor but I’m not clear what he’s doing in this movie. Johnny Whitworth as the baddy vamps up his bad guy Ray Carrigan but other than being a mercenary there’s no meat to latch onto.
If the action was good then I wouldn’t be worried about everyone’s acting chops. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance tries hard to be different and unique, but it doesn’t want seem to want to be “good.” How do you mess up the action in a movie like this is beyond me.
Final Grade D