Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance


  I thought the first Ghost Rider was okay. Fun for the effects and such, but deeply flawed.  Along comes a sequel that nobody wanted or really even expected. Since the first's reception was so lukewarm, why would anyone invest more money in a pretty direct sequel to it? Well the directorial team behind the Crank films must've convinced them they could do something epic with it. Did they succeed? Not with flying colors, but I think they did.

  Nicholas Cage cuts loose as Johnny Blaze in this one. Equal parts afraid of his own power, and also batshit power drunk on it. The result is a manic madman who's in a fight, hardly his own, just to get this 'curse' lifted off of him.  There's a moment when a character asks him something like "Am I going to regret bringing you along?" and he has a few spastic seconds to ponder his answer before saying... "Yes."
These little bits are where the dialog AND Nic Cage gets to shine hand in hand. He can be quite fun to watch here.  Also worth pointing out is Idris Elba as a french... biker... priest. Yeah. His level of badassery is off the charts. He's played with an irresistible charm by Elba, that is... when you can understand him.
The dynamic between him and and Blaze is also really fun to watch.

  In fact, the whole cast has serviceable chemistry. Where their acting falls flat, the script picks up the slack, where the script fails, their acting pulls the weight. When both are faulty, the special effects and the action scenes are so undeniably fun, you couldn't possibly care about what's not working at the moment. However, it is a juggling act. Its rare anything in this movie clicks one hundred percent. Its kind of erratic. Every length of something wrong has a equally good counterpoint though.  This keeps the movie from being boring or flat, but not always from being kinda sucky.  I find it far less sucky than the first one, but its still wrought with issues.  But despite a painfully standard story and a totally non-frightening Devil, Spirit of Vengeance manages to be pretty fun. Its scary badass looking protagonist blazes a trail through the sludge of shortcomings and delivers round after round of high octane, large scale, explosive action. Lots of fancy good looking special effects here. This movie is prime eye candy that's a hell of a supernatural action flick.

  However don't be fooled, this lacks the charm, emotional heft, and overall quality of more recent superhero movies. VERY recent ones even. But the argument could be made... none of those movies have a guy with a flaming skull. And that's why I like this movie. Its quirky and fun. Nothing overly special or even good. But its a fast paced little thrill ride with plenty of flaming destruction to keep your attention for a while. The story is trimmed to the bare essentials, and this isn't really a bad thing. Its to the point. We're here for the action. The motorcycle chases and flaming skulls. We get it too. Lots of it.  Its really fun to watch.  Stylish, kinetic, frenetic, and off the wall. A pretty decent Ghost Rider flick to be had here. Not bad guys. He definitely looks way more badass this time around.

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