Review: “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”

Andy Samberg: It has the two key qualities of a classic Nic Cage action film. Number one…
Nicolas Cage: All the dialogue is either whispered or screamed.
Andy Samberg: And, of course, number two…
Nicolas Cage: Everything in the movie is on fire.
– “Weekend Update: Get in the Cage,” Saturday Night Live (s.37 : ep.14)

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

It’s been about a month and a half since I saw “Ghost Rider.” Last night, I saw “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” in not-3-D.

As the movie started, I realized I had made a colossal mistake. And no, it wasn’t seeing a Nic Cage movie. Going in this movie expecting a sequel is just about the dumbest thing anyone could do. With the new directors, producers, writers and actors, it might as well have been an entirely new Ghost Rider movie that just so happened to star the one and only Nicolas Cage.

In some ways, I actually wish it were the first Ghost Rider movie. It wasn’t better or worse than the 2007 movie, but its structure presented itself as the first in a series.

Another mistake I made — but don’t regret — was not seeing it in 3-D. It is obviously intended to be viewed in 3-D, and I imagine I missed an entire dimension of awesome. However, I also avoided 95 minutes of nausea.

Der Plot (the plot)

The movie begins at a monastery in Eastern Europe where Anthony Head is a monk. Some guy on a motorcycle — who isn’t Nic Cage — shows up looking for a kid. There’s some mention of a ritual, which one could only assume involves killing said kid. Then… BAM! gunfight and car chase.

An “inFAMOUS”-cutscene-style animation gives a general background to who Johnny Blaze is and how he became Ghost Rider — you know, for all the people who chose to see “Spirit of Vengeance” without seeing  “Ghost Rider.”

After the brief background story of Blaze’s deal with the devil, we’re back in Eastern Europe where he just so happens to be hiding out. How convenient! Now he can go save the kid, not fall in love with Eva Mendes — who isn’t even in the movie –, and kill all the things with his “Penance Stare.” Oops… spoiler alert.

The primary problem with both of the Ghost Rider movies is that lack of character development. I was pretty invested in the plot, but so much more could have been done with Johnny Blaze’s struggle with being the Ghost Rider and his motivation to protect the kid. It was almost as if Johnny Blaze was supposed to fulfill the father-role for the 13-year-old Devil’s spawn… but he didn’t.

Then again who cares about character development when everything’s on fire? NOBODY.

On the more cinematographic side of things…

The directing was a bit… avant-garde, which wasn’t bad. It was different from any other comic book movie I’d ever seen. (Aside from maybe The Spirit, but I like to pretend I haven’t seen that one.)

The effects were a wonderful reminder of how far CGI has come in the last five years. AND EVERYTHING WAS ON FAKE FIRE.

If I were to honestly rate this movie for its quality, I’d probably give it a 1.5 out of 5. However, I enjoy Nicolas Cage movies for all the wrong reasons and that earns “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” a 3.5 out of 5.

If my review doesn’t convince you to go to the theater right now, here are a few of my favorite Johnny Blaze lines from the movie.

I get it. You’re the devil’s baby mama.

You will tell me or I will eat your stinking soul.

There was a bee. I thought it was going to sting your face.

Guns and wine. Naughty priests.

Also…
http://www.hulu.com/embed/7Q8bciSUyk_V5l4B67XAoA

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