Review: Ghost Rider – Spirit of Vengeance

The sequel to the forgettable Marvel comic adaptation provides more juvenile absence of thought, albeit some funky set pieces.

Following on from the 2007 original Nicolas Cage plays Johnny Blaze, an ex-stunt bike rider who is cursed with the spirit of a demon many know as The Rider. Now he is wanting rid of the curse, and while protecting a young boy from a prophesied fate, he could get his wish.

I know little about Ghost Rider (and remember little about the first film) but in watching this I genuinely find the character quite interesting… An irregular Marvel character as he acts more like an anti-hero. After his transformation he will hunt down anyone who has done wrong, and kill anyone in between. The film tries to account for this clashing duality…. badly.

The film’s tone is all over the place; going for comedy, then zany-but-is-this-actually-supposed-to-be-unsettling-comedy all the way to surprisingly dark visuals, with people getting shot, torn in half, even rotted into ash.
The story is quite glib too. We have a prophecy child who can save or destroy the world and the forces of darkness are out to claim him. Oddly, the forces of darkness are limited to human mercenary lackeys, unlike the first film and its horde of demons. We have got the plague-ridden antagonist Ray Carrigan, but asides a pretty funny Twinkle joke, he isn’t anything more than a standard boogeyman. Johnny Blaze is a bit ambiguous too; his only motivation here is to have the curse lifted, and anyone could tell you that this means two things can happen, a: he doesn’t get his wish, or b: he has it removed, only to get it back in time for the finale.

So is there anything good in the film? Well, asides the CGI effects taking a tumble from time to time (sometimes looking like storyboard or pre-rendered effects…) the visuals are pretty sweet. Ghost Rider’s ability to turn any vehicle he drives into a flaming hell-engine is always fun (especially when its a giant earth-mover!) and the flaming skull can look impressive. Also, no mandatory romance! But I guess that’s difficult even for Hollywood to pull off when your hero’s face bursts into flames.

It is a shame because the character probably deserves a lot more than this… but it takes brave creative minds, minds that dare to make it less marketable but as dark as it should be, to allow it to have its own identity.

I can’t say its worth watching, unless you want to know all the Marvel adaptations at the moment, and the possible future potential. But I’m almost hoping for a remake in this case…

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