Title: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Directors: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Idris Elba, Ciaran Hinds
Release date: February 17
The first penned Ghost Rider story was released in 1972 in the Marvel Spotlight series, a tryout area for new characters, receiving its own series the very next year. The Ghost Rider is a stunt daredevil named Johnny Blaze, who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for his father’s life. The devil then inhabits within Johnny the “Ghost Rider”, a nightmarish skeletal demon with a flaming skull for a head, who wreaks vengeance on wrongdoers. Due to its dark themes and blatantly violent imagery, the series itself remained in the background of the Marvel stable, constantly overshadowed by more colourful characters such as Spiderman.
Spirit of Vengeance emerges as a sequel to the much-maligned 2007 introduction of the series. It seems to have taken on a new tone to its predecessor, exemplified by the inclusion of Directorial pair Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who are the infamous directors of the violence riddled Crank series, as well as an unsuccessful foray into comic book adaptions, producing Jonah Hex.
The script is basic and to the point. Johnny Blaze is hiding out in Eastern Europe and is hired by a religious sect to defeat the devil, who is trying to take a human form.
The film’s casting seems top notch at first glance, with Ciaran Hinds and The Wire star Idris Elba fleshing out the supporting roles, until the sinking realisation dawns on the viewer that this film appears simply to be time off for actors of such calibre. Nicolas Cage returns in his portrayal of the titular Ghost Rider, but sadly has not improved his Razzie-nominated run as Johnny Blaze. Unfortunately the Oscar-winner’s hilarious turn in Kick Ass seems like a distant memory. Instead we are treated to a floundering and jarring portrayal, which unfortunately is reflective of this work as a whole.
The Ghost Rider, it must be said, is an action character in the same vein as Marvel stable mate Wolverine, allowing writers to create an action-centred storyline for children to enjoy. However, this film’s violent motif just does not sit well and anyone who has seen any of the directorial pair’s CV will know exactly what to expect.
Not one basic concept in the script seems concrete, as the film has its fair share of, possibly unintentional, slapstick moments that once more contrast to the original comic book vision of the dark and imposing character of the Ghost Rider. The setting is also a mystery. Large Eastern European forests and highways contrast to what the envisioned tone of the first film’s inner city setting created, with this new open setting allowing an undistilled way of seeing the basic flaws of what is possibly the worst of the cinematic Marvel canon.
In a nutshell: As messy as Coppers on a Thursday