‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’ Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated November 27th, 2014 at 3:35 pm,

Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengance Starring Nic Cage Review Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Review

If you’re truly savvy about where you spend your money, you’ll call it future late-night cable movie viewing.

In Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance we catch up to Johnny Blaze (Nic Cage) many years after the events of the first film. “The Rider” has apparently grown into an all-consuming force of nature that Blaze desperately tries to hold in check; until the presence of evil inevitably sets The Rider loose again, to feed on the souls of the guilty.

The Rider is presented with a full buffet of evildoers when a group of ruthless mercenaries storm a church in pursuit of a young boy named Danny Ketch (Fergus Riordan), who The Devil (Ciarán Hinds) intends to use as his human vessel. Blaze claims that The Rider is no savior, but when warrior monk Moreau (Idris Elba) promises to lift the curse from his soul as reward for saving Danny, The Ghost Rider is given new purpose, and an opportunity to be more than just a demon in the night.

I can best sum up Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance with a quote that a fellow audience member spoke as the end credits rolled: “This one makes the first one look real good.” There were plenty of people who disliked director Mark Steven Johnson’s somewhat tame adaptation of the Marvel Knights superhero – but Johnson at least made a fully-formed and structured cinematic tale. The same cannot be said for Crank directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.

Cirian Hinds as the devil in Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Review

Ciarán Hinds as The Devil

Spirit of Vengeance plays like an extreme sports video dressed as a superhero spoof. While the directing duo indeed create some impressive shots with their daredevil shooting style, those individual shots do not translate into impressive sequences, and on the whole, a lot of the action in the film isn’t even all that impressive.  [Note: if you’ve seen the Ghost Rider 2 trailers, you’ve already seen everything this film has to offer.] When things aren’t rip-roaring at an ADD pace (which is almost never), the camera work looks about on par with what you would expect from an extreme sports video shot on handheld cameras – i.e., on the amateur side and never really “cinematic.”

With a list of screenwriters that includes Batman Begins and Dark Knight story man David S. Goyer, alongside TV writers Seth Hoffman (Prison Break, FlashForward) and Scott M. Gimple (The Walking Dead), one would expect that Spirit of Vengeance would at least offer some sweet action, thrills and a touch of compelling drama. Instead, what we get is one long chase sequence disguised as a story, punctuated by terrible dialogue and scene after scene where it feels like the actors improvised everything, rather than working from any kind of script.

To give an example: in one scene Blaze and Danny’s mother, Nadya (Violante Placido), interrogate a bad guy, and what we’re treated to is a “Crazy Nic Cage” homage, with Cage going on a manic tirade in his signature high pitched squeal, complete with cheap CGI conflation between his human and Ghost Rider faces. A joy to watch on YouTube, sure, but a waste of screen time when you’ve paid a high price for an entertaining 3D superhero flick. The treatment of the Rider is even worse, as Neveldine and Taylor leave the comic book source material behind, in favor of a Ghost Rider who is best described as being Michael Myers with a flaming head (i.e., a robotic killing machine).

ghost rider spirit vengeance featurette Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Review

The practical use of 3D in ‘Ghost Rider 2′

Speaking of 3D: there are some nice moments for the format, but most of them involve ‘in your face’ antics like The Rider spitting back a stream of bullets, wreaking fiery havoc, or yes, pissing flames. The rest of the time, the format – combined with the directors’ frenetic shooting style – is more headache than enhancement. There are some animated segments throughout the film that offer some nice Gothic artistry, but they are spliced rather awkwardly with the live action.

The film offers almost no character development to speak of, and instead relishes in creating a handful of offbeat characters. Nic Cage is almost to the point of self-parody with his oddball screen persona; Idris Elba (usually a strong performer in any role) is resigned to stumbling around playing an overly happy cat-eyed drunken warrior (who does very little ass-kicking); and Ciarán Hinds is wasted (and confusing) in his portrayal of The Devil, who sounds like the only Texan in Romania. Christopher Lambert even has a brief appearance in the film… but still manages to look equally as ridiculous as his co-stars.

Johnny Whitworth channels all of his inner dirtbag to play the head mercenary who is transformed into iconic Ghost Rider villain, Blackout. The villain has some cool powers (creating localized eclipses and rotting living things), but the amateurish direction makes those powers come off as… well, amateurish in execution. Violante Placido tries to give her tortured mother character some depth and dramatic resonance, but whatever success her efforts yield feel wholly out of place in this film, which does not seem to be taking one iota of this character, story or mythos seriously, even for a second.

Johnny Whitworth as Blackout in Ghost Rider Spirit Vengeance Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Review

Johnny Whitworth as Blackout

On the whole, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance plays like a film made by two directors mistakenly lifted out of their small niche lane of filmmaking, who don’t care all that much about the character, the source material, story – or really anything besides satisfying their own crude humor and action junkie impulses. Neveldine and Taylor deserve a bit of credit for at least trying something different – but ultimately, the material simply does not mesh with their filmmaking style.

Call it a failed experiment, call it the next Punisher: War Zone – and if you’re truly savvy about where you spend your money, you’ll call it future late-night cable movie viewing.

Here’s the trailer for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (which just might be enough):

[poll id=”277″]

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, and language. Now playing in 2D and 3D theaters.

Our Rating:

1.5 out of 5
(Poor, A Few Good Parts)

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Hmmm … disappointing. I’ll still see it, but I’ll pay for Acts of Valor, then skip to see GR2

    • I shouldn’t be surprised though, I thought the Crank movies were possibly two of the worst movies ever made.

      • We agree again.

      • totally agree with you INK, those 2 movies sucked on every level possible, yet are considered ‘classics’ amongst the genre (if they even fall under one) they represent. the visuals in this look ok, but if the review is anything to go by i’ll be watching the grey instead of this ‘movie’.

        with ticket prices going up and cinemas restricting non-3d viewings of movies, i don’t have the time or money to waste on bs like this.

        i thought war zone was pretty good, stevenson was a great punisher and the action was on par with the comics. my only hate was with the piss poor actors and fairly dull narrative, but the end 20 minutes make up for that.

        • I heard the Grey doesn’t live up to the hype either…

  2. no suprises here,i mean come on the trailer proved it was a total wreck

  3. and you dont need to THINK ,they are the WORST movies ever(crank)

  4. One of these days the world is going to look at David S. Goyer and finally realize he is a hack who is drawn to other people’s really good ideas: case in point, his big screen masterpieces: Kickboxer 2, The Crow: City of Angels, Dark City, Blade II, Batman Begins/The Dark Knight, Jumper, The Unborn, Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance. So he is batting at about 3/10 as far a being a brilliant writer/producer. My only question is why Christopher Nolan is still letting him touch his movies. They must be really good friends.

    • i was saying that for a long time.

    • Interestingly enough, I actually looked this and while David Goyer wrote the first draft, most of it was apparently dropped (he’s only getting story credit). While this film is quite weak, it isn’t entirely fair to blmae only him, and not the other screenwriters , who(if their writing credit counts) should be equally, if not moreso responsible.

  5. Wow…It is what it is. I was not too impress with the first one. I’ll check it some time or another.

  6. hmmm. sad really. was kinda looking forward to this.

    and uh why did you have to say: “When things aren’t rip-roaring at an ADD pace”

    i have ADD and i find that highly offensive.

    • bro, come on.
      I have dyslexia and i dont get offended when people say things like “dyslexia, Eitnu!”

      • well maybe you should. did you ever think about that?

    • “Highly” offensive? Really?

      The way some things are going we’ll only be able to use words like “this”, “it”, “and”, “the”, etc. in conversation and print for fear of offending someone.


      • Vic,

        I’m half “this”
        i find your use of the word offensive

    • I have ADHD, but I am trying to figure out what you find offensive about using that description…? Our society, unfortunately, DOES resemble a person with attention deficit. I found it an apt, if depressing, description.

      As for the movie, I will have to carefully consider if I will see it in the theater or wait. I’m sure I will see it eventually, since I love the character…

  7. *sigh* figures

  8. As if this was surprising. A skeleton pissing flames. A skeleton. Think about it.

    • lmao

    • Well Bay got away with robots pissing fluids, farting fire, and whatever else I have blocked out from those movies. People encourage this stuff and the other kids pick up on it, can’t be shocked.

  9. Aowch! 😉
    Man… this review kinda makes me have second thoughts about seeing it next week. I mean, I knew it was going to be bad (mediocre at best), but this is pretty terrible.

    *Sigh* I’ll probably still check it out. At least I’ll be able to see it for free, cause there’s no way I’d ever PAY to watch GR2 after reading this…

    • I don’t know how long your tickets last but if i were you i’ll save it next month for Wrath of the Titans.That’s what im waiting for until all the summer blockbusters are released.

      • I’m definitely going to see Wrath Of The Titans, but I don’t mind paying for that movie.

  10. Well hopefully this bombs and Marvel gets the rights back! 😉

    • I agree.

  11. I think I’ll just save my money. Every reivew I’ve heard is bad, and added the fact that I hated the first film.

  12. This movie is garbage. Sony didn’t allow any critics review it. WOW they must have alot of confidence in that blockbuster. If its lucky it will make 10 million this weekend! PS: Sony after this failure please have some dignity and give marvel the rights back OK.

  13. I’ll probably see it anyway just for the heck of it, but I had sensed trouble as soon as I hea who was directing. Didn’t the studio have to talk these guys out of putting flaming hookers in the movie?

  14. I have not seen this yet but was looking forward to it, anyhow if everyone hates Sonys treatment of Marvel characters so much why do you all keep goin to see them? If everyone banded together and boycotted these movies by simply not showing up then Sony would make maybe a few million dollars on a multi million dollar movie and maybe theyd staart making there money back by selling the rights back.

    • Sorry, but that won’t work. It may work for the internet community like ourselves, but that’s only a small percentage. The General audience is the one that gives movie their most revenue. Besides, I enjoyed their take on Spider-man and I’m anxious to see the new one. But I was never a Ghost Rider fan and hated the first film.

    • Look dude, people here on SR go to see the movies because we’re all movie fans: It’s our “thang” 😉

      The general audience watches the movies that sites like these tell them to watch (most of the times).
      Green Lantern for example: the SR staff saw it, I saw it, and I’m sure most of the ranters saw it… most of us didn’t like it and the world-wide reviews were mostly negative. The consequence: it didn’t do too well in the box-office. Reason: people heard it was bad (through reviewers and their movie-buff freinds) and didn’t bother to go see it.

  15. Ahahahaha! The disappointment. I’m loving it. First lol of the day, thanks people.

    • Your post is full of contradiction. Or you are a masochist. Or you like McDonald’s. I’m not sure yet.

  16. Kofi, you are stuck on an island you only have to choose between Ghost Rider 2 or Green Lantern, which movie would you watch again? Or would take a coconut to the junk?

    Does he at least piss fire?

    • hahahahah
      +1 sir

      • I’d take the coconut. Over and over and over again.

        • Just to clarify, you’re alone so it would be self inflicted coconut junk shot. But I understand given the choices.

    • Doesn’t penicillin clear up that burning pee deal? Heck it might clear the demon out of him all together. Which would maybe make for a better movie than what this sounds like.

  17. As a long time Ghost Rider fan, I beg you please just stop making these movies. I went to see this today and for the first time ever, I walked out of a movie. This was the worst movie I have ever seen. I’m embarrassed that I went to see this.

    • DAMN!

  18. Nic Cage is the real life Troy McClure, so when you approach any of his movies in the vein, they become (unintentionally) hilarious. No idea if he has a fish fetish in real life though…

  19. So, “Green Lantern” quality then? Sounds about right.

  20. I can’t say I’m terribly surprised. I sort of guessed that the trailers had all the good parts. One thing I think is that the Rider’s design looks better in this than in the first.

    Hope Marvel can get the rights back at some point. As silly as the whole concept sort of is, I’d actually like to see a good adaptation of it at some point. Little chance of that though there may be.

  21. You guys need to stop claiming what a bad movie is,have you guys seen sucker punch?that is the worst movie ever,there can be nothing worse.

    Now for ghost rider 2,I’m a little surprised by this review,crank was a decent movie but it seems the directors here according to this review,did the usual hollwood bs and totally disregarded and disrespected the source material.

    I’m starting to think of these director types as whiny artists who need someone to keep them in check under these circumstances when they are working on a movie that has a rich established mythos,like ubisoft is doing with thier IPs

    They need to stop trying imagine these characters and realize the personality,quirks and such,are already planned out,they need only bring them to the big screen…and if they want to do otherwise they can make their own characters.

    • @ zeta, “You guys need to stop claiming what a bad movie is,have you guys seen sucker punch?that is the worst movie ever,there can be nothing worse.”

      wrong sir. i dare you to watch “southland tales” without looking at your watch ONE time, wondering “when will this POS will be over”. that movie, or “the box”, which is a damn shame because the only reason i watched either of those 2 bowel movements was because of richard kelly, who directed “donnie darko”, which i thought was an excellent film. i guess he’s gonna be a 1 hit wonder. as for “sucker punch”, while the story was a bit of a stretch, i got what snyder was doing, and visually, it was an awesome spectacle. a bunch of very beautiful women kicking @$$! what’s not to like?
      i still want to see “manos:hands of fate”, because THAT is supposed to be the worst movie of all time.

  22. i was always just planning on seeing this on dvd but now i dont know. the first one was enjoyable enough so i figured this one would be to. and i would like to see a nick cage film again soon but hes been releasing so many crappy ones that i dont dare watch any of them.

  23. @Kofi Outlaw

    nice review. im not shocked about this movie been bad cause Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are rubbish directors. we all should not be surprise remember they wrote Jonah Hex.

    • “they wrote Jonah Hex.”
      Holy crap, I forgot about that.

      • I think everyone who saw and didn’t see Jonah Hex forgot about it 😛

        • +1 lol…

  24. I think movies like ghost rider is case-in-point why marvel studios has such tight creative control over their movies.

  25. I thought it was good besides having them cheesy moments like crank other then that it was good. the three d was aite it coulda been better.

  26. I won’t see this but I would see Ghost Rider Meets The Smurfs… I hope he just goes around pee-ing on all of them. One by one by one by one….

    • “I won’t see this but I would see Ghost Rider Meets The Smurfs”

      I would see Ghost Rider Eats the Smurfs… Twice..
      He just belches on them like the picture above then serves them up on teriyaki sticks…

  27. Punisher War Zone may not have been the best movie, but it was relatively true to the Punisher Comic feel. This is completely different in my opinion.

  28. I guess im in the im in the minority here, but I thought GR2 was pretty sweet. 1000x better than the first one. This is one of the only times ive ever disagreed with a review from Kofi, or SR for that matter. But it is what it is I guess

    • From all I´ve heard so far, 2 Girls 1 Cup was better than Ghost Rider 2.

  29. Well DAMN..not sure if im going to go see GR2 this weekend now..decisions..decisions….DAMN!!!