Ghost Rider Spirit Of Vengeance: Nailed it? or nail in the coffin?
First off let us say this before you go see it (and we think you should)… We are not “Marvelites” as some fans are dubbed. Sure we love Marvel comics, but also love DC and many others just as equally. In other words, we gave this an unbiased review in terms of comic book companies. Now, things you need to do before seeing Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance:
1) Don’t pay for the 3D because it isn’t worth the extra money
2) Realize that this is from the guys who directed the Crank movies (Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine), so don’t expect Oscar material
3) Nicholas Cage may have made some horrible choices and seems to be losing it, but at one time he was a decent actor, so there still is some of that inside him.
4) Ignore all reviews you see if they do nothing but tear this movie apart. Sure this is our opinion as well, and you should treat it as such, but there are so many things against this movie that it isn’t being given a fair shot.
Okay with that being said, here we go. Us owners of sCrypt Comics have drawn inspiration from a lot of things we were fans with growing up. We both loved the Ghost Rider character. Sure, we grew up with the Dan Ketch version, but still knew enough about Johnny Blaze to be excited about seeing any kind of screen time for the character (even when he showed up in the 1990s animated X-men series for a three second cameo, we were happy.) BTW YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!
Here’s the BAD:
1) The 3D was almost so non existent that the glasses had to be removed at times so that you could see if it really was a 3D movie.
2) There was a scene where Ghost Rider is hit by a grenade and wakes up as Johnny Blaze in tons of pain in the hospital. First he robs the hospital of prescription pain killers and then downs them like they are Pez candies. This is a PG-13 movie. Not to get preachy because I’m not, but is this really a good message to be sending out to younger people? The hero of a movie is a thief, and a pill popper and a bad one at that. Done preachiness. The even bigger problem is that the next time he is Ghost Rider, he is hit by ten times the explosive power of that one grenade and it only throws him around. Bad writing guys.
3) Since when did Ghost Rider become a snake? Nicholas Cage admitted that when he was GR, he based his movements on those of his pet snake. It just looked awkward to say the least. Actually it was uncomfortable to watch. It was almost as uncomfortable as watching a porno movie with your parents in the room.
4) The action… Where there was still plenty of action, there were places in the movie when there just seemed like a lot of dead space.
5) Campiness was abound. It was not as serious as a Ghost Rider movie should be expected to be. Some of the jokes worked well, but there were a few things that were a little over the top.
6) Johnny Cage transforming into Ghost Rider didn’t look as it did in the comics. It still looked cool, but it just wasn’t what we wanted it to be.
7) The ending… I really expected something more at the end. I can imagine what that ending meant, but what if I’m wrong? There is no way to tell unless a sequel is made. And really? The final line in the movie is Johnny Blaze yelling “Hell yeah!”
8) Nicholas Cage’s voice over in the beginning is horrible. It makes you believe that the whole movie is going to suck right off the bat. It isn’t the dialogue as much as it is the delivery, but it is definitely a factor of the two.
Now for the Good things about the movie:
1) The special effects were outstanding. Ghost Rider looked down right scary as hell. Blackout’s powers were eerie and effective, and the overall flames effects were amazing.
2) It really made up for the bad things from the first one. There was less crummy dialogue (though it still existed to an extent).
3) People have been ripping on a scene that involves Ghost Rider pissing fire. If you pay attention to the movie, this scene is not really happening. It is what Danny is picturing in his mind. Johnny Blaze was trying to be entertaining for the kid. It showed the father figure that Blaze was becoming.
4) Ghost Rider getting hurt was cool to watch. His flames would begin to extinguish, showing how even demons are not invincible.
5) They explained the spirit inside Ghost Rider. The whole origin of who Zarathos (this spirit) was.
6) The intermission scenes were animated in a digital watercolor style. As people who appreciate art, it was cool to see these comic booky scenes in the movie.
7) They weren’t afraid to put religion into it. Ghost Rider comics often mentioned God. A lot of people frown upon faith in today’s day and age because they claim it is politically incorrect. This movie fit it in briefly, and did it tastefully and well.
8) The Hell fire within Ghost Rider killed over fifty people. It wasn’t gruesome, but lots of people turned to ash.
9) Ghost Rider’s voice was so much better than the first movie. It was really only a whisper this time, but it was menacing and made you feel like he really was a spirit. It added to the eeriness.
10) The movie started out with a bang and had us on the edge of our seats, assuring us this was going to be good. Then of course voice dialogue came in (see above for our thoughts on that).
And finally, the character breakdown:
Johnny Blaze / Ghost Rider: We loved how Blaze screamed while transforming. It is even said in the movie that Zarathos was an angel that went insane. Nic Cage portrayed this well (maybe because he is a little nuts himself). At times though Blaze didn’t seem like the suave character he was from the first one, and Ghost Rider seemed lost in some scenes as he stared into space. Overall, the combination of the two was better than we expected it to be.
Ray Carrigan / Blackout: Carrigan was more of a thug, but with a purpose. He was a typical cold villain that was perfect for the part. When he dies and is transformed into Blackout, his display of powers was great each time. The down side is that he seemed like more of a background character than a main villain. We would have liked to have seen his role and the roll of the devil switched.
Roarke / The Devil: Ciaran Hinds has the perfect menacing and evil look to play this part. We would have liked for Peter Fonda to return as Mephisto, but it is even explained that the devil goes by all kinds of names and appearances, so his placing was done well. The down side is that he just seemed a little too predictable.
Moreau: It was sad to see Idris Elba’s character die in the end, but this actor is absolutely amazing. The character was the voice of reason, and he had a human side as well. We are just wondering how many times Idris Elba can exist in the Marvel Universe (he was Heimdall in Thor, Moreau in GRSOV, and is rumored for Black Panther and Power Man in future movies). Any way you deal it Marvel can bring him back as much as they want and we’ll be happy.
Danny: Is this Dan Ketch? We like to think so. We don’t know why they would leave out his last name, but it sure as hell looked like he was going to be the next Ghost Rider. The young actor that played him did very well and was convincing in the roll.
Methodius: Christopher Lambert makes us cringe sometimes when he comes on screen in a movie (sort of like Nicholas Cage). You never know what you will get with him, but he did a great job in his short roll here. The monks had a small but important roll in the film.
Nadya: She may not have been the best mother with her choices, but she was the perfect eye candy for this movie, plus she was a little bit of a badass herself.
All in all, we’d be sad if the first one got a sequel and this one didn’t. This is a popcorn flick and nothing more. There were quite a few flaws, but for a movie of its stature, we gave it a 7 out of 10 on the fun scale. So to answer the question as to whether they nailed it or put the nail in the coffin? We’d say somewhere in between. It’s more like they removed the nails from the coffin that had been established from the prior movie, but didn’t completely lift the lid.