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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Movie Review - Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

95 Minutes
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba
Director: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor

            Originally, I had planned to take this week off from the blog because I am moving. But when I saw this movie I felt compelled to post a review as a public service message and hope that I have a huge influx of readers who will benefit from it.

            A more appropriate name for the film would have been: Ghost Rider Goes To Europe. The opening scene of the film tells us that the fiery, cyclist of purgatory travels to Europe. That particular fact has no bearing on the story other than to explain why the scenery looks so different from the first film. The credits indicate that it was filmed, at least partially, in Turkey. I’m resisting the urge to create alternate titles for the movie based on that, but that shouldn’t stop any of you from doing so.

            The movie starts off with Nadya (Violante Placido) and her son Danny (Fergus Riordan) hiding within a fortified castle/monestary. Moreau (Idris Elba) shows up and offers to take the pair to a place where they will be safe until after the time of the prophecy has passed. Almost immediately afterwards, armed men storm the castle and Nadya and Danny are forced to flee. With some help from Moreau they are able to escape.

            Moreau then seeks out the Ghost Rider and convinces him to track down the boy and save him from The Devil and prevent the apocalypse which will follow. Johnny Blaze has been keeping the Ghost Rider submerged, but finally releases the demon within in order to save the boy.

            He arrives just as Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth) is about to kill Nadya. The Ghost Rider faces off against a handful of heavily armed humans and is . . .

            I don’t want to give away too much of the story, suffice to say that Johnny Blaze teams up with Nadya to rescue the boy from the devil’s minions and keep the world safe from the infernal domination.

            I did not enjoy this movie. At one point a kernel of a plot existed that had promise. It is revealed during the only scene in the film that I found interesting. In that scene, Moreau explains that the devil inside Johnny Storm is a fallen angel that at one time dealt in justice, but was perverted by the devil to fiendishly pursue vengeance. A superb story could have been crafted from that small bit. The writers could have played off Danny’s situation as a child that is half mortal and half the son of The Devil. Instead, they briefly mention both situations and move on to the fiery special effects which seems to be the films main concern.

            The film does serve to show the differences in movie making between Europe and the United States.  (Go USA!!!) You can see a definite European tough to the camera work. Too often, the creative and stylistic shots left me wondering what was going on in the movie; they confused me more than they helped the story along.

            However, that wasn’t the biggest problem I had with the film. Most of the performances were lackluster. For me, the two bright spots in the cast were Johnny Whitworth as the villain and Idris Elba in a supporting role. They seemed to be the only two who showed up to the set prepared to perform.

            It bears repeating that there was a marked deficiency in the development of plot. People cruised around Europe and fought in abandoned locations. The special effects were pretty cool, but after awhile I sat through the action scenes wishing the movie would end soon.

            For those of you wondering if this knocked Skyline off my list of worst movie I’ve seen in the last ten years. No. I’m not sure that any movie I’d be willing to go see could do that. Whereas I actively disliked Skyline this produced more of a sense of complete boredom.

            My first instinct was to give this movie a big fat zero for a rating, but as a couple of days passed I changed my mind. I didn’t actually HATE this movie. (That would require having more of an emotional reaction to the movie than it actually produced.) It deserves half a Dollar for the special effects. If you are a fan of foreign films then you should bump that score by another Dollar. I’ll be interested to see if ticket sales support my review. I think they will.

            I understand that not everyone will agree with me. And that is all good and well. What I can say, with no prejudice toward the movie, is that this in a much different film from the first. Do not make the mistake of thinking that since you liked the first movie that you will like this one. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is a dark, European styled film that is miles different from the Hollywood fare that you might normally be used to. Then again, if you like that sort of thing you should go check out this movie.

            Randy’s Rating System

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.


  1. Did anyone like the first movie? Does anyone remember anymore that Nicolas Cage used to be an Oscar-winning actor? It won't be long it seems like until he's doing the straight-to-video stuff like fallen stars like Steven Segal and Jean-Claude Van Damme. But hey it wouldn't be winter without another terrible Nic Cage movie I guess.

  2. Okay, so it seems that it may require a certain acquired taste to "appreciate" this movie. Or just the expectation of little more than pyrotechnics, CG effects and fighting. Well, I know I sound like such a girl when I say this, but I'd be willing to suffer the rest of that stuff to see Idris put his acting game face on. From your review, only one other person did this.

  3. Uncle Grumpy - You make a good point. I didn't like the first movie much. Still, it was degrees better than this film. And Cage does seem to be on a bit of a slide. Maybe he'll pull himself out of it.

    Angela - I enjoyed Idris quite a bit. As far as I'm concerned, if they had Idris and the villain square off for this film, it would have been much better.

  4. I sort of wanted to see this movie as I think Idris Elba is a wonderful actor, and I have a kind of nostalgic feeling about Cage, but I've been burned by him a few times lately (no pun intended), so I don't think I'll bother.

  5. Didn't like the first so comes as no surprise this one would be worse. You have been platform tagged. http://sivmaria.blogspot.com/