“Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” – Review by Daniel Rester

The original Ghost Rider film wasn’t one of the high points of comic book-based films, and I must say that the sequel is at about the same level. Nicolas Cage returns to the character of Johnny Blaze, who now is hiding out in Eastern Europe—trying to control his curse. The film takes off when a rebel monk, played by Idris Elba, approaches Blaze with the task of saving an important young boy from the grasp of the devil. The story then follows Blaze as he goes up against the devil, in the form of a human named Roarke, played by Ciaran Hinds.

The story elements of Vengeance are given poor treatment, as the script seems to have been written without much care. The dialogue is laughably bad, the characters are uninteresting, and the plot turns are ordinary and inconsistent. These weak script points (and some of the acting) make the film unintentionally hilarious at times–especially in a scene that includes a quip about salad (no joke).

Vengeance was brought to the screen by directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who directed the Crank films. They bring a gritty and energetic style to the film, but only some of it isn’t rendered flat. The camerawork and visual effects used are uneven, but some of the visuals and action are admittedly striking (the Rider himself looks much better than he did in the first entry). And the music score and European scenery add some strength to the going-ons. The combination of these various aspects makes for a mostly-average display of the ill-conceived story.

As for Cage…well…he’s Nicolas Cage. He once again gives a loopy, overacted performance worthy of many laughs and palm-to-forehead moments (I personally love Nicolas Cage, though he tends to be starring in many terrible films recently). Most of the other performances are bad, though Elba and Hinds give the movie some weight. These three actors are far from their best here, but all deserve better material to work with.

This Ghost Rider sequel is a so-bad-it’s-OK entertainment. It’s a movie that made me laugh out loud regularly, my friend sigh consistently, and another friend say “I am disappointed” in the middle of the movie. The few fans of the original Rider may be satisfied, while others will be displeased and yearning for this year’s other superhero entertainments, such as The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. I am one of the people in the latter group, but I did enjoy some of the special effects and Cage-isms in Vengeance.

Rating: 2 out of 4 stars.

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