Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

By Kathryn Schroeder
Released: February 17, 2012
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Nicolas Cage reprises his role as Johnny Blaze in Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance. In this gritty new vision for the character, directed by Neveldine/Taylor (Crank), Johnny is still struggling with his curse as the devil's bounty hunter - but he may risk everything as he teams up with the leader of a group of rebel monks (Idris Elba) to save a young boy from the devil...and possibly rid himself of his curse forever.
Film Review
Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider, has returned in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance with a whimper, and barely a blaze. Little has changed for Johnny since his first outing in Ghost Rider; he is still fighting the demon that lives inside of him and wishing he had made different choices--meaning, not signed a deal with the Devil. The details of Johnny's curse are told once again to the viewer, in a flashback sequence with a heavy-hearted Johnny (Nicolas Cage) telling the story. Johnny will chime in a few more times during the film to make sure everyone is keeping up with the story; an occurrence that immediately insults the viewer because Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is the least complicated film that could ever be made.

The simple story is that a boy named Danny (Fergus Riordan), who just happens to have a very close relationship with the Devil himself (in human form he is known as Rourke (Ciaran Hinds)) is being hunted by Rourke's hired man, Ray (Johnny Whitworth) so a ritual may be performed that will give Rourke ultimate power on Earth. Danny is a sweet boy, who harbors some unnatural powers, but ultimately wants to be good. His mother Nadya (Violante Placido) has done everything she can to protect Danny from Rourke but ultimately she needs help. This is where Johnny Blaze comes in, after being recruited by a religious wine-loving Moreau (Idris Elba) who promises to release Johnny of his curse if he brings the boy to safety. Everything seems simple enough for Johnny/Ghost Rider to manage, and it all is, with a few small twists thrown in for good measure. Not that any of these twists are interesting, or unique.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is plagued by the worst possible thing a movie can be, lameness. The story is in every sense boring, having been played out so many times before, and with better effort, a viewer has no choice but to yawn or smirk as the minutes pass by, ever so slowly. The potential for a fast-paced action thriller with a scary fire emblazoned skeleton riding a motorcycle is no where in sight with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. The action is timid at best, and far too much time is spent on Ghost Rider surveying his prey than actually devouring them. The story of the boy vs. the devil is ridiculously bland, and made hilarious by the rocking motions of the ritual at the end. Johnny being ridden of his curse may go down as one of the most ludicrous scenes in movie history, with a writhing Nicolas Cage doing his best "crazy" face. The most memorable part of Ghost Rider; Spirit of Vengeance is when the decay inducing Ray Carrigan, after being given a special gift from Roarke, attempts to eat lunch. Each item he touches, an apple, a sandwich, decays before he can take a bite, turning into rotten and molded food. Then he grabs the Twinkie, and it does not spoil in his hands. The moment is funny, because a Twinkie is food, or is it? Having this be the one thing you recall after Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance has being the highlight of the film is funny as well, for all the wrong reasons.
Special Effects
In the very beginning of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Idris Elba's character Moreau is thrown from his motorcycle and over a cliff. Slow-motion takes over as a close-up of Moreau wielding his gun occurs, and his character looks like a form of claymation. This is the first effects sequence of the film and it does not instill hope that anything afterwards will look much better. The main effects of the film are of of course the creation of the character Ghost Rider, a fire engulfed skeleton who drives a fire engulfed motorcycle and breathes down the faces of rotten souls. Making Ghost Rider look real is not really an option given as he is a fire skeleton, but making the audience suspend disbelief to believe in the reality of such a creature existing is done in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. The fire is crisp, the bubbling leather of his jacket from the heat a nice added touch, and the placing of the skeleton head on the body of a man nearly seamless. The effects lack impressiveness in other areas of the film, like the aforementioned claymation-esque moment. The decaying of bodies by Ray Carrigan is something to see, but pitted with unlikely scenarios at the outcome of such bodies. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance does not have the worst effects work, but it does not have any interesting work, making the effects of the film forgettable and unlikely to produce any oohs and awes from a viewer.

Thriller, Fantasy, Action
Release Date
February 17, 2012
MPAA Rating
PG 13
Running Time
95 minutes
Music Score