Movie Review: “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”

Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance Review DT2ComicsChat David Taylor II

BWAHAHAAHAHAAHHAHAHHAAHAHAHAHAHHAHA

Ghost Rider Himself

I must say, I have always loved Ghost Rider. I love everything about him. His origin, his powers, his mission, everything. It was all on display here. Those were the best things about this movie, which is both a good and a bad thing.

I love his image, his visage; the fact that when you see him coming you know that play time is over. I love his penance stare. Technically it isn’t supposed to suck out your soul as the movie states. It makes you relive all of your sins, and experience them as the victims of your actions did. Wicked.Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance Review DT2ComicsChat David Taylor II

I love the fact that everything becomes enflamed once he rides it. This time it seems that the Hellfire chain actually disintegrates people into Brimstone on contact. Ghost Rider can also project Hellfire the same way the Human Torch throws fireballs. But in the comics, GR’s fire is actually cold. It’s the cold condemnation of Hell in facing your many sins. Wicked squared.

They add a twist on his powers in that he also can move at frenetic speed, rather vampire like. I don’t know if that was him moving in and out of time as it were, but it just makes him more formidable. Along with the fact that he is virtually indestructible.

Again, if you can’t tell, I love this character, and that is the only real basis of my enjoying this movie. I just loved to see him on the screen. But the movie’s got more holes then a tanker full of Swiss cheese.Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance Review DT2ComicsChat David Taylor II

Plot

First and foremost, the movie couldn’t really decide on tone. It tried to be gnarly funny and somewhat somber at the same time. Well like a master chef, you have to know how much seasoning to add of each one, or else the whole thing will be a mess. That’s pretty much what happened here. I found myself cuh-RACKING up many times! And then I was like, “Wait, Ghost Rider ain’t supposed to be funny. Not this funny. And not this kind of funny.” I mean, c’mon, The Spirit of Vengeance peeing fire and laughing like a teenage boy in a locker room??

The main plot we’ve seen before, and at its root level, doesn’t really make any sense. Somehow we’re to believe that Satan is so weakened by taking human form that he needs to create vessels to walk the Earth in. I guess that’s plausible, but you wonder why wouldn’t he just go back to Hell to recharge? Also, the female lead in this movie is useless. She was just hired because she’s pretty. This is a nothing role, she literally does nothing but smolder at the camera. And run around and over emote over her kid. Which is the devil’s kid. In a Rosemary’s Baby meets Maury Povich kind of way, seems that the plan was to create a human/demon hybrid child, and then pour himself into it. That would allow him to escape the limitations of his burnt-out husk of an old body. At least they got the look right; he indeed looked like a slimy old pervert.

Um. Satan has been around long enough to think of that plan a million times before, and to think of much better ones. Also, if he had to go with this plan, why just one child? And how in the world could the Devil let his baby’s momma escape him? …See what I mean? Just doesn’t make any sense. It stirs up one of my eternal superhero universe pet peeves; fluctuating power levels. This would not be a solid plan for the father of all lies who’s been around since before people. Just no. He would have figured all the angles FROM HAVING DONE THIS SO MANY TIMES BEFORE. *facepalm*

So the first big problem is that we don’t care enough about Danny or his mother from start to finish. We’re introduced to them on the run, but not with the masterful style with which James Cameron introduced Kyle Reese to us in the first Terminator. No character development here, they’re just ideas/plot pushers. When I first heard it was Danny Ketch, I thought surely that the plot was going to be stripping the Rider from Johnny Blaze and pouring him into Danny, since in the comics,  Danny Ketch was also Ghost Rider.

The second main issue is that Nic Cage is simply too old to play this character. Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance Review DT2ComicsChat David Taylor III’ve always liked him, but he is not believably Johnny Blaze at all. He has, unfortunately, like many other actors before him, become a caricature of himself. Now he just plays the ‘Nic Cage role’ in most of his movies, as opposed to actually embodying the character he’s portraying. Many times during this movie, I was watching Castor Troy, not Johnny Blaze. So the laugh, the crazy eyes, the stuttering speech, they’re all stock in trade now to everything that he does. Unfortunately. And that bad dye job and toupee looking hair…lawd ham mercy.  Johnny is a young man that’s tormented, not an older guy who’s getting off on the fact that there’s a crazy angelic demon locked inside of him.

They dealt with GR’s origin, which was cool, revealing his name to be Zarathos. But that was about it in terms of comic book fidelity. Zarathos was never a fallen angel, but rather a rival of Mephisto, which is how this whole thing got started. Also, how exactly in the movie origin was he ‘captured and driven crazy?’ The movie just said that it happened…but it never really said how. Again, it makes no sense, was he the only captured angel, etc.?

And, again, inconsistent power levels coupled with Wile E. Coyote physics. Makes no sense that a rocket launcher could stun GR, and he’d be out long enough to revert to JB and end up in a hospital. Then later, an even bigger rocket launcher with heat seeking missiles doesn’t even slow him down? Just no.

And Johnny’s whole motivation is that Idris the Midris promises him that he can lift the curse, if Johnny will help him find the boy. And Johnny just…believes him. Just like that.Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance Review DT2ComicsChat David Taylor II

Other characters

It was good to see Christopher Lambert; he’ll always be Connor McLeod to me. Unlike Nic Cage, Lambert knows that he’s getting older, but he’s still able to bring his edgy presence to a more mature role. The creepy order of the Priests tho, was again, just kind of cliche and overdone; we’ve seen that a million times by now.

Idris Elba is always Heimdall to me now, a black man with Golden Eyes that can see forever. His role was fun, but I wouldn’t really call it developed. The plot throws us in the middle of all of this, so we really don’t have enough time or information to connect with the characters as we might wish.

Johnny Whitworth as Carrigan and then Decay was alright. I mean, his powers were cool, but he was the mean/punk/rapist guy that the hot girls go for until they see how much of a jerk he is. Again…nothing new, or deep. And again, fluctuating power levels; makes no sense that the power of physical decomposition would work on Ghost Rider. Not in any way, shape, or form, does that make sense.

Ending

So, Johnny actually does get cured about halfway through of the curse of the Ghost Rider, just as Moreau promised…but it happened in a Minority Report kind of way. Meaning, that they set up Tom Cruise in that movie to go blind if his bandages were removed, and they were removed…and then he didn’t go blind. Nothing happened. This was like that…Moreau said that Johnny’d be in pain, but all he did was laugh that crazy Nic Cage laugh, roll around on the floor, and wake up cured. Right after taking partial communion and confessing his deepest sin. Just…what?

So of course we can’t have that, and Johnny continues to try and rescue Danny for this woman whom he barely knows. Moreau gets decayed, but somehow Danny, after the transference ritual is interrupted, figures out that he can breathe the Rider BACK INTO Johnny. Which again, makes no sense, how would he know how to do that? Ghost Rider is a fallen angel gone crazy, they established that. How would he be reattached to Johnny through lil’ Danny Devil’s fire breath? Ugh. GR rides again after taking out Satan’s goons, and at least his fighting sequences were fun to watch. He eventually gets his hands on the devil, and somehow, Ghost Rider has enough power to chain slam Satan all the way back to Hell. Um…what? The father of all demons gets WWE’d by one of his own creations? …What? Just…no.Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance Review DT2ComicsChat David Taylor II

The big kicker at the end, tho, is that Ghost Rider’s angelic nature seems to be reasserting itself, and his flame begins to burn blue. Danny is dead, and Johnny, with a skeletal hand that is now burning with the newfound blue flame, raises him from the dead. This poor woman has lost her devilspawn so many times in this movie it’s a wonder she didn’t go into cardiac arrest. Johnny claims he can feel the Angel Rider now…and then takes off, fully burning blue. And that’s it. That’s the movie. ….*sigh*

Who’s betting now that if they make a sequel, it’ll be Ghost Rider Red vs. Ghost Rider Blue? *facepalm*

Conclusion

As soon as I recognized what this was, I was able to enjoy it. This was much more like an extended episode of a Ghost Rider TV show. That’s all that it was. If it was a weekly series, it could’ve perhaps been a mid-season cliffhanger. If you watch it like that, you can definitely enjoy it more.Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance Review DT2ComicsChat David Taylor II

I’ve talked enough about wasted potential with Smallville to last me a lifetime, but once again, that’s what this was. Ghost Rider works when the many layers and angles of his life are explored. He needs to be cast in a framework that resembles the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno Hulk TV series. That’s who Johnny Blaze should’ve always been in these movies. When JB is approached from the perspective of a tormented man who sold his soul and now has to live with the consequences, the story really works. But, alas, to repeat, besides the woefully inadequate and adolescent writing, Nic Cage is the problem. We cannot take Johnny Blaze and the Ghost Rider seriously as long as Cage plays him. Sorry, but it’s true.

This one goes on the “Do you really wanna have a good laugh?” movie pile.

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Read these comics. I guarantee they’ll be better than the movie.

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