The year of the superhero movies is upon us once more, and there's quite a mouthful of exciting titles to look forward to as 2012 rolls forward. With momentum building up to Josh Whedon's The Avengers, Marc Webb's new take on Spider-Man, and the conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight saga, comic book fans certainly have a lot on their plate that will keep them satisfied and talking in the months to come. However, the comic book movie craze will officially begin this month, as Marvel releases their first salvo of heroism in the form of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Once again starring Nicholas Cage as Johnny Blaze/ Ghost Rider, the film is not exactly a direct sequel, and instead picks and retools elements from the first movie to generate a new adventure that is supposedly much darker and grittier than its predecessor. Before trailing off to the review, I'd like to extend my sincerest thanks to Warner Bros. Philippines for inviting me to the special screening of this film. Now that its riding in theaters, find out just how much hellfire and brimstone this film has.
*Originally posted in Timzster
Movie: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Johnny Whitworth, Idris Elba, Christopher Lambert
Release Date: February 17, 2012
Five years after the release of the Mark Steven Johnson film, Marvel, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, and Columbia Pictures have called forth Marvel's dark motorcycle hero once more for a new movie under the Marvel Knights banner, giving it the name "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance". As the title implies, it's supposedly a darker take on the character, and the story sees Johnny travelling around Eastern Europe, trying to break away from society because of the demonic power that turns him into the devil's bounty hunter. His time in exile is short lived though, as secret sect of the church needs his power to save a child from the devil, and in return Blaze will be given his one desire: to be rid of the Rider forever. With the chance to be free from what he considers a "curse" on his soul, Johnny jumps at the opportunity without any hesitation. However, the devil does not give up easily, and Johnny will have to unleash the power of the Ghost Rider whether he likes it or not to save others, and himself, from eternal damnation.
Honestly, after seeing the rider back in action, I honestly wished he hadn't come back at all.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of Ghost Rider and all, but this movie felt a little too rushed and underdeveloped for my tastes. In so many ways it looked promising, yet when I actually got to see the final product in all its fiery glory, I can't help but feel disappointed with the results. That's just a personal opinion as a longtime comic book reader, and while the first film also saw many flaws as well, to its credit I found it much more enjoyable in terms of pace and character development (save for the henchmen of Blackheart of course). There were very few redeeming qualities for the plot to make me feel completely satisfied about the final product Spirit of Vengeance became, and while nobody has to know anything about its predecessor, I felt the former had more to offer in terms of presentation. The good news is that this movie at least explains what the true nature of the Ghost Rider and his legend really is. That was good execution there, but still not enough to redeem things in the long run.
Casting wise, it's headlines by Nicholas Cage, who's back with the leather jacket and chains as Johnny Blaze. Despite his recognizable and distinct features, his performance here doesn't outclass any of his previous ones in other films, and I'm not quite sure what to say of his actions when he "transforms" into the Rider himself. His alter ego also undergoes a major makeover, looking more realistic and scary compared to the first time. Basing off GR's movements off his pet Cobra, it feels a little too awkward to take in at first, but there's no denying that the action and "flamethrower piss" the Rider show's off is cool. Johnny Whitworth plays a commendable bad guy in the form of Blackout, but not much screentime was given to make this guy intimidating enough, other than putting a few grunts out of their misery. Idris Elba, who played Heimdall in Thor, plays Moreau, a alcoholic monk battling alongside Blaze to save the child from the Devil. Everyone else in the movie performed pretty well in their roles, but it was kind of a surprise and sort of a disappointment to see Christopher "Highlander/ Lord Rayden" Lambert in such a small role. What it is I leave for you to find out, as well as his fate.
Overall, while I certainly liked the character and his legend, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance just didn't scare and pull the hell out of me enough to make me feel awesome about it. It's a popcorn flick and full of enough eye candy to meet expectations of those looking for thrills and spills, but it lacked the foundation to make it a great movie plot wise, and that's what sent it to damnation for most. Mixed reviews will be around the horizon for this I'm sure, so if you still want to take the big risk and see this movie, then you're doing it because you're a fan of Ghost Rider or Nic Cage. Either way, it's one hell of a ride... depending on your expectations that is.
Rating - 2/5