Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.
2012. Rate PG-13, 95 minutes.
Violante Placido
Johnny Whitworth
Fergus Riordan
Christopher Lambert
Anthony Head

Like a lot of single moms, Nadya (Placido) is having major trouble with her baby daddy. Unlike those other women, despite whatever they say, her baby daddy really is the Devil, or Roarke (Hinds), as he likes to be called. He suddenly wants custody of their son Danny (Riordan), but doesn’t trust the courts will support him (my speculation). He sends the mercenary Carrigan (Whitworth) and his goons after her. French wino priest Moreau (Elba) heard how it’s going down and wants to help out. Unsure whether the grubby looking clergyman is really a good guy, she shoots at him and the actual bad guys alike. This leads to the coolest looking scene in the movie about two minutes in. Figuring he’s in over his head, Moreau then enlists the help of Johnny Blaze AKA the Ghost Rider (Cage) to bring mom and the boy safely back to the local monastery. Blaze only agrees because the priest promises that once the task is done, he’ll rid him of the curse of the Rider.

The first Ghost Rider movie is definitely an “also ran” in the comic book flick genre. It was panned by critics and audiences were lukewarm to it. Even its biggest supporters were merely saying “It’s not that bad.” Still, it made enough money that someone felt a sequel was warranted. So here we are watching Nicolas Cage go Nicolas Cage, while wearing a bunch of leather, in yet another bad movie. How many awful films has he starred in? I suppose I can’t really blame him since the checks keep clearing. I’m so jealous. Oh well. At least the title character looks really cool with a skull and motorcycle engulfed in flames, so there’s that.

“That” is pretty much all there is. The Rider and just about everything he does looks great. He’s got fire and chains whirling about. He’s absorbing gunshots and spitting back flaming bullets. There’s all sorts of stunts with the bike and other machinery. The same could be said of Carrigan once he gets "the power of decay." Watching things fall apart in his hands is just awesome. By the way, one thing that doesn’t fall apart provides us with the only moment in the film that’s actually funny on purpose.

Unfortunately, everything else is horribly botched. Cage’s performance is bizarre. The super shaky cam, sped up film and quick cutting employed during his most over the top moments provide a number of unintentionally hilarious happenings. Whitworth, as Carrigan, chews scenery in a similar fashion. Mom is bland, the kid is annoying and Ciarán Hinds looks like a bored devil. Only Idris Elba shines, but he might have been downing real wine to make himself forget he actually signed up for this.

Spirit of Vengeance delivers precisely what the first one did: a fancy looking mess. The action scenes are silly, but fun. The rest of it is silly in a bad way, a very bad way. It is paced pretty briskly so it passes quickly. Thank goodness. The kids will like it so it’s got some use as a popcorn flick. However, this isn’t that fresh, piping hot and buttery popcorn we go crazy for. This is that slightly burned, a second from being stale poporn we eat because it happens to be sitting on the table in front of us.

MY SCORE: 4.5/10

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