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.
Since, this past friday marked the theatrical release of its sequel, I decided to rewatch the first movie. First, let’s state the good things. Johnny Blaze was not bad. The dialogue and acting, though not at all the best, was for the most part a good start. Then Nic Cage became Ghost Rider and the script took a dump.
His dialogue became so cheesy and unbelievable that it was cringe worthy. With that being said I still enjoyed it for a popcorn flick, but one that I won’t watch again for a very very long time.
I grew up thinking that Ghost Rider was one of the best comic book characters out there. I loved his story and just saw it as a breath of fresh air. When I heard that they were making a movie and it was staring a supposed comic book loving actor, I thought they could do no wrong. Boy was I mistaken.
Aside from the crappy dialogue, the villains in it looked nothing like their comic book versions. I also did not like the fact that the tires of the motorcycle were melting the ground wherever he drove. Now let’s get on to the characters.
Johnny Blaze – In the comics he had long blonde hair. Nic cage has short receding dark hair. Okay, I can get over that, but the look was already off. Cage’s acting could have been worse, but for the first half of the movie I felt that he did Johnny Blaze justice in portraying the kind of stunt bike guy he is. I especially enjoyed the end when he used a shotgun to defeat the main villain. Blaze in the comics had been known to carry a shotgun that fired hellfire.
Roxanne Simpson – Eva Mendes is gorgeous. She was one of the good things about the movie, but I feel that they just made her out to be so dumb. She is a reporter and she puts up with Johnny Blaze’s crap because she just doesn’t get it. Her dialogue was again, poorly written, but not painful on delivery.
Ghost Rider – The look was good, excellent in fact, and the motorcycle was fantastic. His voice and CGI were off a little and made him look fake in certain scenes. I hang my head low in shame even now as I type this. I will say that the horrible spikes growing from his shoulders and the way the chain was aqcuired was odd, but this is redeemed by the effects of his “Penance Stare”. The way it was done in the movie could not have been displayed any better.
Mephistopheles – Peter Fonda’s acting was as painful as Cage’s. He had these occasional “mmmm” sounds he would do that made me wonder if he was passing gas. In the comics, Mephisto was evil looking. He looked like Satan with red skin and angular hair. If they would have made Fonda’s skin red in color, I’d have been satisfied, but like Johnny Blaze’s hair, I can get past this. I did not like however that when the lightning flashed, it showed his “demon form” briefly. I didn’t feel that was needed at least with Mephisto. He did have however the best character development in the movie for what it was. He still felt evil as well.
The Hidden (Wallow, Gressil, and Abigor) – This group of demons was not something I was familiar with as they were created for the movie. They were perhaps my favorite part of the film. The water, earth and air demons looked badass and were exactly what they were meant to be… supporting roles. Their effects looked good, but I feel as though they were defeated way too easily. It was as if there was no climax with them.
Blackheart – I am mad at this one. Blackheart is the son of Mephisto, and while they did not mention that in the movie, they didn’t need to. He was a rogue general of hell’s army just rebelling against his father. My problem here is that they got some goth looking guy to play the part. Blackheart was a black demon that had long porcupine like spikes coming from his head and body. Even at the end when I expected him to let go of his human form and become what I so wanted to see on the screen, it never happened. The way he was defeated felt too forced as well.
Carter Slade – Sam Elliot is a good actor, though he didn’t have much to work with here. I don’t even know what to call him. They combined two comic book characters into one. Because of this, I will analyze him in that way. First up is the Caretaker. He looked just like the comic counter part with the cowboy appearance and shovel. He also had the same mentor type roll and guardian of the cemetary mission that I knew him for. This Caretaker side of him was dead on all around. Next is Phantom Rider. He was never called this in the movie, but the name Carter Slade in the comics was the alter ego of Phantom Rider, who was the original old west ghost rider. I liked the fact that he was in the movie, but he wasn’t needed like this. The caretaker could have been left the way he was without changing him. In the comics he was more of a ghost looking rider than a flaming skull ghost rider.
To summarize my review I’ll put it this way. I accepted the many flaws this movie had. If I was someone who had no idea what the comic book was like, I think I would have enjoyed it except for the delivery of bad dialogue and anticlimax. As a fan of Ghost Rider in the comics, I am severely disappointed. It did have its moments though that made me satisfied for a brief time. I plan on seeing the sequel this week and will do a review on that as well. In the meantime I give the first Ghost Rider movie a 4 out of 10.