Film review: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011), directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
A few years ago, stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) sold his soul to Roarke (Ciarán Hinds), an incarnation of the devil. Because of this, at night he turns into Ghost Rider – a burning skeleton of a demon bounty hunter, out to claim souls of bad people. This is not something he’s particularly keen on, so he’s hiding out somewhere in Eastern Europe.
In a monastery, a young boy called Danny (Fergus Riordan) is held in secret with his mum Nadya (Violante Placido). The boy is one of prophecy and it would be best for the world if he was there and just waited for a prophetised time to pass. The devil disagrees, and has sent Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth) and friends to collect him.
Mum and son run, chased by Moreau (Idris Elba), a priest … However, Moreau loses them and turns to Johnny Blaze to help find them and bring them to safety, which is of course not as simple as it would first seem, and even when they’ve gotten to the safe place, is it all that safe? And so on. Also, Blaze is in it for the chance to get his soul back.
With notable appearances by Anthony Head as some kind of monk, Christopher Lambert as a more hardcore monk with facial tattoos and Vincent Regan as a weapons seller.
Mr T and I are agreed on this. He went into the cinema hoping he’d like it, I went into the cinema hoping I’d at least enjoy it. Both came out with a “meh” feeling. The storyline in itself was okay, but the film didn’t flow. It felt like “Scene 1, end of Scene 1, Scene 2 begins”, very … episodic, almost. The whole film put too much emphasis on special effects, in a “LOOK, IT’S 3D! ISN’T IT JUST AWESOME?!” way, meaning prolonged bits of Nicholas Cage transforming into a flaming skeleton, and this:
It got boring. Especially when he hovers over people like that for a good three minutes without doing anything else … I mean, if you’re going to claim the guy’s soul, bloody do it already! It was equally groanworthy when it was so painfully obvious that he would not kill Carrigan, even though he had the chance and Carrigan is a bad guy. He had the opportunity several times, and I was thinking “and he’s going to let him get away again, because Carrigan has plot armour“.
When people manage to get away by the skin of their teeth, fair enough, but when they’re seconds from certain death and then miraculously, the would-be killer decides not to kill, even though it would pretty much solve the protagonists’ problem once and for all, you go, “aww, come on!” If Carrigan is chasing after you, surely killing Carrigan would at least stall Roarke for a bit, as he then has to find someone else to continue the chase. So yeah, makes perfect sense to let the guy go to continue his chase. Sorry, but that’s just plain stupid.
I’m also wondering about the young couple in the minibus somewhere in “Eastern Europe”. Did they just get a foreigner to say something foreign because no one would really know the difference between Romanian (pretty sure I saw a Romanian flag at one point) and, oh, Swedish? We all sound the same to you because we’re all “European”, right? No, please do tell, because I realised that I didn’t need the subtitles when the minibus guy spoke his one line, which he repeated a couple of times. I haven’t suddenly learned to understand Romanian – the guy was speaking Swedish! No explanation for it. And let me tell you, Romania and Sweden aren’t anywhere near each other geographically, and they sure aren’t similar in languages (or cultures) either.
The other thing about the unspecified “Eastern Europe” is that they’re racing against time, and one minute, they’re in – yeah, let’s just run with it – Romania, as that’s where it was shot. The next, they’re somewhere in Turkey. Now, they’re not a million miles away from each other, but they still have the whole of Bulgaria to get through. If you’re driving, we’re not exactly talking five minutes down the road. (Bucharest to Turkey is about a 6.5 hour drive according to Google Maps.)
There are currently two cinemas in Nottingham showing this film, neither had a 2D option. It was 3D only. We’re not fans of 3D, as we see it as something that doesn’t add anything to the experience, except to give you a headache. The 3D on this film wasn’t even particularly good – there was very little of the actual effect most of the time, and when there was any, there was a lot of “shadowing” (when it doesn’t line up properly) and it just felt completely pointless. But no, 3D is what we’re all having to put up with from now on. As much as I want to see Avengers Assemble when it comes out, if they don’t have a 2D option, we might well wait for it to come out on DVD instead.
If you’ve seen the trailer and been worried a lot of time is going to be spent on peeing fire, don’t worry. It’s a short and pointless glimpse when Blaze answers Danny’s question about what he does if he needs to pee as Ghost Rider. “It’s awesome, like a flamethrower!” Cue five-second clip.
So no, I wasn’t grabbed by Cage or any of them, and how old must Nadya have been when she gave birth to Danny anyway? Fifteen? Considering the age of the actor playing the child’s father, that’s a little squicky even by my age gap romance-loving standards. That being said, always a delight to see Ciarán Hinds, even when he’s the creepy Devil incarnate.
My recommendation would be that if you’re wanting to see this film, but not absolutely desperate to see it right now, save your money and wait until it comes out on DVD. Even if Anthony Head is in it.
2.5 out of 5 avenging angels.