Film Review: 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance'
The first word that comes to mind when thinking about this movie is 'incomprehensible'. That is, remembering the plot, or even describing it, is shockingly less straightforward and obvious than it is for most movies. Other movies can be described as having a beginning, middle, and end. Other movies have arcs and hero's journeys and character growth. This movie is a sort of shapeless amoeba of a movie. It's not a "drug trip" in the cool way, like Disney's Alice in Wonderland, Inception, Paprika, or The Matrix. It's not even "on drugs" in a comedic sense, like a Cheech and Chong movie. But drugs come to mind when watching it - you start to wonder which ones, and in what quantities, influenced the movie's creative decisions.
Eight years have passed since Johnny Blaze (played by Nicholas Cage) made a deal with the devil and assumed an alter ego called The Rider. The Rider is a death-like skeletal figure on a motorcycle with a flaming skull. His purpose is to punish evil people, whose souls he consumes. Johnny begins to see this magical vigilante thing as more of a curse or burden than a fun time, so he seeks a way to get rid of it. He seeks help from a priest named Moreau, played by Idris Elba (who was Heimdall in Thor).
He ends up having to protect Danny, the son of the devil. His main antagonist is a demon whose powers rival those of Ghost Rider, called Blackout. Both characters got their powers from the devil. So what's happening is that the living MacGuffin - Danny, the son of the devil, is caught in a tug of war between two people who were given superpowers by the devil. As if that makes sense.
It turns out that Ghost Rider is a corrupted Spirit of Justice, called Zarathos. When he is able to defeat the devil (aka Roarke) and Blackout (aka Carrigan), he is able to become this entity, ridding Ghost Rider of his corruption and becoming a positive force for good in the world.
With a weak script, uneven CG work, and a Nic Cage performance so predictably loony it's no longer amusing, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance aims to be trashy fun but ends up as plain trash.— Rotten Tomatoes - Consensus
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Marvel Entertainment, Crystal Sky Pictures, Hyde Park Entertainment, Imagenation Abu Dhabi; Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Steven Paul, Ashok Amritraj, Michael De Luca, & Avi Arad
Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
Screenplay by Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman, & David S. Goyer; Story by David S. Goyer; Based on Ghost Rider by Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich, & Mike Ploog
Nicolas Cage, Ciarán Hinds, Violante Placido, Johnny Whitworth, Christopher Lambert, & Idris Elba
1 hour, 35 minutes
None - Not even the Razzies and Golden Schmoes it was nominated for.
The movie is incomprehensible. Only about a week passed between me watching Spirit of Vengeance and writing this review - however, I barely remembered anything about the plot, and had to crib most of the above synopsis from Wikipedia. I think that's a sign of a bad movie - it tells a story you won't remember, or even understand when you see it. This is because the movie doesn't seem like a story most of the time, just an endless chain of fights that look goofy and have no emotional impact. The camera is always bobbing up and down during the action scenes, like the camera wielder is having some kind of epileptic seizure. The overall effect of this level of shakey cam could make you sick.
There were some conversations that built some interest in the story. Idris Elba was a good supporting character as Moreau, and Violante Placido was decent as Nadya, the mother of Danny. But these interesting-ish supporting characters couldn't make me care about the movie. It's hard to understand, hard to get into, and not even that good in the "so bad it's good" way, like perhaps the first Ghost Rider movie was. The movie's primary characteristics are lame special effects and a lack of clarity.
The reason I gave it 3/10 instead of 1 or 2 out of 10 was that some people might enjoy it as a guilty pleasure or in a "so bad it's good" or "so bad it's unintentionally hilarious" way, but personally, I didn't experience the movie this way - I only experienced discomfort and confusion.
Rating for 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance': 3/10
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© 2019 Rachael Lefler