Friday, February 17, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was released today (2/17/12). It's the sequel to the original Ghost Rider movie, starring Nicholas Cage.
The storyline of this sequel divorces itself from the original almost completely, except for the basic concept of the deal with the Devil. Johnny Blaze finds himself in Europe. Gone is the entire supporting cast from the first film. In fact, the character of Johnny Blaze seems to have completely changed. Gone are the stunts and jelly beans, replaced with angst and insanity. Even Ghost Rider is very different, now "eating souls."

Ghost Rider remains visually very well done (especially in 3D), this time with oily black smoke rolling off of him. But as a character, he's the equivalent of a robot with a circuit loose. His behavior doesn't make sense most of the time and the film doesn't explain it. One time he rides into combat but just stands there with his fist raised into the air. I think there's a few times when he "eats someone's soul" (he opens his mouth wide but besides that there's no other visual clue) but he chooses to do it in the middle of active combat, allowing the bad guys to defeat him.  At various times in the film, Ghost Rider uses vehicles other than his motorcycle, all of which burst into flame just like his bike. Most ridiculously is a what appears to be a large earth-moving construction vehicle of some type. Ghost Rider's partial transformations come across as ridiculously cartoonish.

The main villain is the Devil and a human named Carrigan. The bad guys that he struggles to defeat are, for the most part, normal guys who he should have been able to take care of without a problem. Carrigan is transformed into a decay demon (who apparently is suppose to be Blackout, though he is never called that in the film). Carrigan's decay powers are selectively applied even though he's suppose to be unable to control them. How is he able to drive for hours if his touch destroys anything in mere seconds? The Devil himself proves easy to dispatch since he was "reimagined" to need a frail mortal host to survive.

This film fails on almost every level. At times, the film attempts to break new ground, inserting "comic bookish" sequences, but these come across as being exposition heavy momentum killers. The plot is extremely simple but seems muddled because basic concepts aren't explained until late in the film (why is there all the fuss over this kid again?). Characters are cardboard cutouts lacking any real emotion, backstory, or motivation. Even the editing and camera work is extremely poor. The film missed out on major opportunities to explore themes like the difference between vengeance and justice. I don't want to give away the ending but lets say that the logic behind the "new" Ghost Rider doesn't make any sense.

There were two funny moments in the film. One was when Blackout tries to eat but all of the food decays as he touches it... except a Twinkie. The second was seeing Johnny Blaze squirm as he's asked hypothetical questions by a kid, a la Mallrats. "What happens if you have to pee when you're on fire?" the kid asks. "It's like a flamethrower," Blaze replies. The accompanying image is hilarious.

But what isn't funny is wasting your money on this film. I expect nobody is going to be happy with this slop of a movie, Ghost Rider fans or not.

1LR Review - 6 out of 20 - It's a Failure!

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