Saturday, March 03, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Remember watching the first Ghost Rider movie and thinking, 'This might be the worst comic book adaptation in move history"? The Spirit of Vengeance will change your previous opinion.

Nicolas Cage sets new lows as he resumes his role of Johnny Blaze (AKA The Ghost Rider). And his phoned-in performance is what we've come to know and expect out of Cage: stiff and bordering on insanity.

This new film retains it's namesake character but changes everything else. New setting (now in Eastern Europe as Blaze is trying to run away from his demons). New damsel in distress. New villains (even cheezier than those in the first film). They even re-wrote history inserting a new character (Roarke - played by Ciarán Hinds) as the devil who made a deal with Blaze and transformed him into The Ghost Rider. In the first movie that role was fulfilled by Peter Fonda as the character Mephistopheles.

The sad part of of Spirit of Vengeance is that the rest of the cast is far more entertaining than the central character. Riordan as the son of the devil and Placido as his mother trying to save him from evil both turn in more compelling performances than Cage. Elba's character Moreau (a drunken warrior monk) is infinitely more interesting than The Ghost Rider. In fact, the first few minutes of the film featuring Moreau and the boy/mother escaping a handful of assassins after an attack at a monastery hold promise that this might actually be an enjoyable movie.

But our hopes of a good film are trampled as soon as The Ghost Rider's animated introduction is splashed across the screen. What we're left with is overblown special effects, CGI that dances between spectacular and shoddy, a frantic story line, and Cage's throwaway one liners. Toss in Cage's typical performance alternating from manic to stoic, and we're left with an abysmal movie that makes it's predecessor look like an Oscar worthy work of genius. Not an easy task considering the first Ghost Rider movie was an utter pile of trash.

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