Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Movie Review

The phrase 'style over substance' has become a little cliche as of late, but right now I'm hard-pressed to describe Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance as anything but. In fact, if you check out the definition of 'style over substance' right now, you will probably see a picture of directors Neveldine/Taylor, all shake-y and skewed just like their camera work, grinning ear to ear.

Which is weird, because you would think that Neveldine/Taylor's unique brand of hyperkinetic and over-the-top film making would have been a perfect fit for the maniacal, bike-riding flamehead. Even Nicholas Cage, back in the saddle as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider, was obviously inspired by the duo, hereby tapping into acting energies so primal that mortal eyes aren't ready for what it's gonna see.

But I digress...Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is insane. Insane. Whatever grounded the first Ghost Rider film is nowhere near it. Ghost Rider here is grittier, dirtier, twitchier, more crazy. He also kicks more ass than the previous installment, and isn't relegated to just riding bikes (the scene you saw the trailer involving a bucket wheel excavator, one of the biggest machines in the world, is as awesome as it looks.) But the shining star here is a completely unbridled Nicholas Cage, who delivers Wicker Man-levels of overacting, actually making his co-stars visibly uncomfortable. It's safe to say it's okay to watch this movie for Cage alone!

But being insane is one thing, being coherent is another, and Spirit of Vengeance unfortunately lacks that one basic thing. Characters come and go like Iron Man's girlfriends (there's even a Christopher Lambert cameo!), and the plot is just a means to put Cage in a position to look twitchy and fight bad guys in awkward, drawn-out action scenes, made even worse by Neveldine/Taylor's inability to know when to stop (one particular scene, where Ghost Rider is longingly staring down a goon he's holding, goes on for minutes without anything happening. Is he gonna Penance Stare him? Headbutt him? Kiss him on the lips? What?). The movie's saving grace is the final 10 minutes of the film, in an exciting chase scene that finally shines a heroic light on Ghost Rider, but by then it's already too late.

Bottom line is, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance boils down to 'What if Nicholas Cage was always batshit insane and had a flaming skull for a head?", and if you're willing to pay good money to watch that, more power to you. This movie is good enough for brainless action entertainment, but if you want a good story to go with it, you're short of luck.

Oh, and don't watch it in 3D unless you like being ripped off.

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