Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Neveldine/Taylor) 2011

This was close to being part of the box office bomb list but depending on what site I go to the production budget fluctuates so I am giving it the benefit of the doubt.

I wasn’t in a real rush to go see this movie.  The original Ghost Rider was a horrible movie that didn’t have much of a chance from the start because of the strange casting of Nic Cage.  Now I love me some Nic Cage (as evidence by my worn out copy of Deadfall) but he doesn’t need to be around any comic book territory.  I send a gift basket every year to Warner Brothers for not casting Cage as Superman as they were initially very high on him.  But even with somone else in the Ghost Rider role, the rest of the movie was very annoying.  So when I saw Ghost Rider pissing fire on the trailer my brain right away threw any idea of seeing it in the Recycle Bin in the Windows desktop of my brain.  But like a record people kept saying the same two things “But the Crank guys are doing it!“ and “Crank was fucking awesome!“ (which it is).  So when it finally came out on DVD I said “Screw it.“ and brought it to see with my friends.

Things actually started out promising for this movie.  This movie has the same whacked out frat boy innane humor that we know from Neveldine/Taylor and there was a scene early on which, in the hands of everyone else would piss me off, in their hands I ket out a chuckle.  Normally I would be more frustrated a superhero being played for laughs, but I don’t mind as even the directors take shots at how silly the whole concept of this comic is.  This is a motorcycle riding demon with a flaming skull for crying out loud.

However the pacing and humor of the Crank movies doesn’t last long in Ghost Rider.  You see, Crank was actually helped by the fact it had about the bare minimum of what you would need to constitute a plot.  Crank was free to go off in any random stupid direction and wasn’t hampered that much by explaining shit.  Ghost Rider on the other hand has to actually tell a story and explain a character and when that happens, the movie grinds to a screeching halt.  The director’s greatest strengths are action scenes with frantic edits and off the wall humor.  Their weakness is when characters sit around having boring conversations explaining what’s going on which goes on far too much in this movie.  And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this movie has some overcomplicated plot or anything like that.  This movie has a relatively basic plot.  I’m saying anything the directors really can’t handle anything normal and make it interesting.  It is like getting kids on a massive sugar high and asking them to do anything that requires concentration or patience.  Can’t happen.

Ghost Rider is a confusing comic book character and even after watching two movies, I’m still not clear on what all he can do.  I just chuckle at the fact that at least twice in the movie the writers have to collectively sit the audience down and explain the many things he can do and what he is about.  It is not helped when the writing is inconsistent as all hell (pun not intended).  In one scene, Ghost Rider is knocked out by a grenade and in another he takes a missile to the face and he pretty much shrugs it off.  The changes in character between the first and the semi-sequel/reboot are rather jarring.  In this movie Ghost Rider is more like the Hulk.  He is this destructive force that takes down everything in his path where in the first movie Blaze had more control over it.  They try to explain it as the darkness taking over, but again it feels too jarring of a shift in character and adds to the confusion of what Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider can do.

One thing that has remained from the first movie and continues to be a crippling problem is that lack of a good villain.  There is absolutely zero tension for me in any of these movies because Ghost Rider is apparently the John Cena of Marvel superheroes.  Rider no sells any damage done to him and he squashes all his opponents without any real trouble.  Why should I care about any of these conflicts if it feels like nothing can hurt the Rider?

But I know the other reason why people would want to see this movie.  Does Nic Cage have any good Nic Cage moments?  Not really.  He has one scene where he is kinda goofy but for most of the movie he is pretty reserved.  Of the times he does scream out stuff it feels really forced.  Trust me guys, this is not the Neveldine/Taylor equivalent of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.  Truthfully, he really looks like shit in this movie and it seems like he is tired of doing this crap.  I know his character is supposed to look tired and worn out, but I got more of that vibe from the acting than anything else.  Idris Elba continues his streak of bad American roles.  Idris actually gets edged out of the Waste of Talent award by Christopher Lambert.  He just shows up, you say to yourself  “What the fuck is Christopher Lambert doing in this?“ and he leaves.  Seriously, what the fuck?

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was better to me than the first one but that was a really low bar.  It doesn’t even mean it was a good movie because it’s not.  The positives are the special effects are better and Neveldine/Taylor do a slightly better job with the action and with the campy humor.  That being said, I still didn’t like this movie and I can’t recommend this to anyone.

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