Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012) Review:

Back in 2007, audiences were able to see first hand what the Marvel Comic book anti-hero, Ghost Rider, would look like on screen. Unfortunately too few people were pleased with the results. Nicolas Cage who played Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider seemed uncomfortable with his character and didn't quite know how to bring out the true feeling of the movie. Adding to this were the ridiculous villains who barely did anything throughout the film's running time except for bad mouth other characters. Overall, the Ghost Rider of 2007, which was directed Mark Steven Johnson, was outlandishly cartoony and needed improvement on the script.

Fast forward to 2012, almost EXACTLY 5 years (just a day apart by release), the next story of Ghost Rider as fans would say - "Rides again". Call it a sequel or a remake, one could look at it both ways. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (GR2) was directed by the Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine team and I give them a lot of credit for taking on this franchise. It's not easy to impress comic book fans, especially when the first one was more or less a flop. However, this Ghost Rider film, by far, surpasses its predecessor by a significant amount.

Cage being much more involved with his role this time
So what's better in this film - almost everything! Let's start with what I talked about earlier. In the first Ghost Rider, we saw a Nicolas Cage who really did look like he was comfortable in the shoes of Johnny Blaze. It was almost like after his father's death, he fell into a depression that left him absolutely non- emotional. It is much clearer now that the role of Johnny Blaze was made to be so Cage knew what how he had to act out his character. He clearly states several times, that he tries his best to hold back the evil inside him and it's not easy to do. And one must understand, because he has this force inside of him, something that powerful could make him go insane. Nicolas will go insane so don't be surprised when he does. This is the Johnny Blaze that should have been written into the first movie.

What's even better is that Cage is actually funnier in this film as Blaze. There aren't any awkward moments like there were in the first film. The script definitely received an improvement over the past five years. There isn't a love interest in this story, which is good because that's probably what was holding the character of Blaze back from 2007. This movie is solely about Blaze trying to take control of the curse he was given. Along with Cage are all different actors to fill the voids of new characters. Violante Placido plays Nadya, a mother who conceived a son (Fergus Riordan), whom now the devil (Ciaran Hinds) wants to claim and it's up to Blaze and a friend named Moreau (Idris Elba) to take on the problem. Moreau is another character who puts some comedy into this action/adventure, horror flick.

A much more intimidating Ghost Rider no? I think so!
As for action goes, GR2 has plenty, if not more than the first. And this time, Ghost Rider has some considerable opponents. In 2007, Ghost Rider fought off four demons, Blackheart and his three minions. I couldn't even count the amount of bad guys Blaze fought off...sorry wrong word; killed. Another thing I enjoyed watching. In the first movie, Ghost Rider was a hokey character who never really got to use his true hellish powers. Ghost Rider shows no mercy in GR2. Villains will burn, explode and disintegrate. Ghost Rider's penance stare is no longer the same either. My only complaint is that during certain scenes, there would be different camera shots inserted. Those different camera shots made me feel like something else was happening when really what was happening, WAS happening and not something else. The music is great too. David Sardy who produced the movie's score, has good sense of what this film should sound like and he did just that.

Lastly, are the special effects. The portrayal of Ghost Rider is much more accurate. Ghost Rider as a whole is totally charred. Even his jacket bubbles! Keep your eyes open for that because you can really see it, which is absolutely surreal. Making Ghost Rider look even more spectacular is the fire that he is engulfed in. It is no longer a clean flame that cloaked Ghost Rider in 2007. No. It is a torch that creates so much sooty smoke, that it's almost suffocating just to watch it on screen. This is what makes Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider. Something so grungy, that it looks like it came from hell. One other effect I like was one of the devil's helpers who had the power to decay anything he touched; except Twinkies! Ha!

For the first time taking on this Marvel character, directors Neveldine and Taylor nailed Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. With a tuned-up script, better character dialog, accurate special effects, and an exciting score, this film plays better than the original.

Points Earned --> 8:10

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