Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance (2012) Review

director: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor

writers: Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman & David S. Goyer

starring: Nicolas Cage

genre: Action | Comics | Thriller

released: 17 February 2012 (U.S.), 10 May 2012 (Greece)

After the money the first film made, it was certain a sequel would be in the works. Instead of going the same route of easy on the eyes violence and campy comic booky action. They picked the freaky "Crank" directing duo to implement their fiery style to the "Rider". Sadly their vision could only be up to a point. As the film falls to the category of simple mindless action you will soon forget. As so many others films come out to be.

story: 

The "Ghost Rider" Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is on the run from his dark self. This journey only has more meaning, as it led him to Eastern Europe and to the location of a young son and mother on the run themselves from the Devil (Ciaran Hinds) himself. Blaze with the help of a Holy Warrior Moreau (Idris Elba) will have to protect the boy and see to it, that the Devil returns to the Hell from which he came from.

thoughts: 

Where the first film was a total box office hit, its sequel failed miserably to connect with audiences and once again with critics. Probably, because nobody actually cared about the character of Johnny Blaze. Nobody must also remember what even happened in the first film or even cared. So why waste time on number two.

Bringing in the directing duo of Neveldine and Taylor was a great idea. Personally I'm one their biggest critics, but knew that their free-flowing style of directing could match the "Ghost Rider" property. Not only that, but make the film feel fresh and also the concept of the rider in of itself. Something they managed to do with many creative elements of insanity of the rider and a lot of visual changes of moods and characters. Which are some of the highlights of the film.

The usual trademarks of the directing duo are ever present. Their frenetic style of directing which works at times and then becomes just plain annoying. The array of fast panning, fast cut editing, quick zooms and frenetic rhythm of shots and action make the film feel fast and intense and actually fit well with the zany nature of the rider. 

Where the film could have been this crazy ride, ends up being very simple and without anything special about it. To start out, the most evident problem is the film's layout of exposition and oversimplifying roles and situations. Where the film could have been about Blaze and his inner turmoil. It seems as there was no conflict. His rise to hero and internal redemption was actually easier said then done.

As a sequel, the filmmakers where afraid that nobody would know anything about the Rider. So exposition is layered out throughout the film. This only shows that they couldn't find a more intelligent or useful way to transfer the information they wanted to the audience. Ultimately this exposition is a detachment from the film's fast cut/paced style and from precious minutes that could have been spent on building the new characters.

Apart from that, its also the film's attempt at trying to be cliched where needed and silly when not needed. If they made the sequel have a more chaotic nature for the rider and its action. They were best fit then to go all out and off the rails with that vision. Having the film inter-cut with exposition, cliched father-son bonding moments and then cliched moments of distrust and then trust and then villain intro. Really makes the film less important as a film event and more like straight to DVD release.

verdict: 

If it wasn't for the cliches, awkward moments and the insistence of the filmmakers of not going full out into their own silly insanity. I think then the Neveldine and Taylor duo would have made a wonderful film and not a film tailored to the conventional vision of screenwriters and studio execs.

Personal Rating:

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review by Paul Katsaros

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