At the Movies: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Most critics were not kind to the 2007 comic book film “Ghost Rider” but I thought it was OK. Sure, it wasn’t one of the top tier of comic book films but neither was it “Jonah Hex” or “Catwoman.”

It was about as good a movie as one could expect from the concept. I mean, sure, flaming skeleton on a motorcycle looks cool,  but the character itself was never that interesting. My only comic book experience with Ghost Rider involve a couple of issues guest-starring Hawkeye and the short-lived series “The Champions,” a ’70s comic starring Hercules, Black Widow, Iceman, Angel and Ghost Rider (just from that lineup you can imagine why it was short lived).

The movie apparently made enough money to warrant a sequel, so Johnny Blaze rides again this week in “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.” Despite my lack of enthusiasm for both the character and the original movie, I was interested in seeing the new film mainly due to the presence of the directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. Nevedine/Taylor gave us the ridiculously over-the-top and irreverent action movie “Crank,” so I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of high-octane thrills they could deliver.

Boy, did they not deliver. How bad is “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance?” It’s “Electra” bad. It’s “Steel” bad. It’s “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” bad. If you thought last year’s “Green Lantern” was bad — this movie makes it look like “Citizen Kane.”

A recap for the Ghost Rider-impaired: Stunt cyclist Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) made a deal with a mystery man named Roarke, who turns out to be the devil (this time around played by Ciarán Hinds)  which resulted in him becoming host to a flaming, skeletal demon who goes around frying bad guys.

That’s the central premise of Ghost Rider and it doesn’t make sense to me. Why would the devil want someone going around incinerating evil people?Aren’t those people on Satan’s side?

Anyway, as the new film begins, Johnny is hiding out in Eastern Europe, trying to calm the spirit burning inside him. As luck would have it, in the same part of the world Roarke has sent his latest agent, Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth), to steal away a young boy (Fergus Riordan).

According to prophecy (don’t you hate stories with prophecies in them? I’m so very tired of prophecies),  Roarke can use this boy as a conduit to achieve human form — which would not be good for the human race. However, he can only perform the ritual on a certain day at a certain time.

Enter Moreau (Idris Elba),  member of a secret religious cult determined to keep the boy away from Roarke.  Moreau believes the only person who can keep the lad safe is the Ghost Rider. Why does he think this? Probably something to do with that prophecy.

Moreau looks up Johnny, but Johnny wants nothing to do with this until Moreau promises to lift the Ghost Rider curse in return for his aid.

“Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” is lacking on about every level but its biggest sin is this: It’s boring. I was expecting non-stop action and big, outrageous stunts and instead I got a lot of talk and uninspired chase and fight scenes. And most of the action was of the herky-jerky, headache-inducing variety. (Note: Don’t see this movie, and definitely don’t see it in 3D. The 3D added nothing except to the headache-inducing aspects.)

There were a few good bits — a scene with a Twinkie and Cage struggling with his dark side were entertaining — but not nearly enough to make it worth your time or money.

 

 

 

 

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