‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’ Review

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

Screen Rant’s Kofi Outlaw Reviews Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

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):

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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)

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TAGS: ghost rider 2

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  1. wow…glad i skipped this one

    • So did I. I think Nicolas can kiss his career goodbye

  2. who thought it could get any badder then the first one…i guess the same people that thought nic cage was the right person for the role twice…i walked out about a third of the way through one of the worst movies i’ve ever seen

  3. Reason why there are bootleggers… sigh.

  4. What are we to make of poor Nic Cage? Has he simply given up on taking his acting career seriously? Seems like he has now fronted about seven or eight cinematic disasters – not “disaster flicks”, mind you, but films that are aesthetic and/or box office disasters — in a row. This is a guy who gave, by my estimation, one of the most agonizingly unshakable screen renditions EVER in “Leaving Las Vegas”. Loved him in “The Family Man”. He was hammily effective in “Con Air” and “Face Off”. Good in “National Treasure”, “World Trade Center” and “It Could Happen to You”. I think
    “The Rock” is an overrate flick, but I liked HIM in it. Of course, all of these respectable outings were hinted at in his very promising early work. But lately? Yikes. Honestly, I find it kind of weird; even disturbing. Is he just going through the motions to make a paycheck, or is he merely stuck in a lengthy, but soon to be broken, bad stretch?

    • Believe or not despite bad reviews this movie mad a couple hundred million

  5. I personally enjoyed this movie it obviously wasn’t the greatest movie that i’ve ever seen and definetaley never will be, but i had fun watching it on the big screen. I think its safe to say that this film improved from the first one in the way of genre, the first one was pretty much just a horror movie and this one was more of just and action movie, if you ask me this movie was like the Expendables it had good characters but a really weak script. I guess the hardest thing about making a Ghost RIder movie is finding out what Genre he belongs in, the first one they put him in a horror movie and the second one they put him in kinda an old 80s action movie, when we look at this guy with his head on fire we stop and think wait a minute this guy is supposed to be a super hero i mean lets face it superman looks a lot nicer than Ghost Rider. But overall this movie’s main weakness was the script not so much the acting or fight scenes, the character of Jhonny Blaze is a character who is really scared and really stressed, he has no idea what he’s doing, no idea how to handle this curse, worried about his relationship with Roxxane and his stunt show, and to top it all off he is being hunted by the guys that work for the Devil so his past sins are staling him, so who wants to be him?

    I think that this movie was good but i think that everyone expected too much out of it, as soon as we heard that the Crank directors came on board along with David S. Goyer who wrote Dark Knight and two writers from the Walking Dead we all felt oh yeah!!!! They’re finally gonna do this guy right because he is really a great character and now they have some great people. But the thing is its really hard to make a super hero movie as good as Dark Knight or Iron Man but we all felt like they could do it. When we all saw it though and it wasnt even close to Dark Knight (buy and extremely long shot) we all just felt like it automatically sucked. Ghost Rider is great because he’s so frightening but he is so freakishly real and we can relate this guy who has a sick bike and a flaming skull.

    I liked Cage in this one better than the last one and i loved Idris Elba in it, because Elba is an amazing actor. I know a lot or zillions of you out there cant stand Cage as Ghost RIder but one thing we can say is that it looks like he had some fun in this one and he has always been a huge fan of Ghost Rider and a ton of other super heroes (lets all admit he is a much better Ghost Rider than he is Superman). I also like Ciaran Harris as the Devil i think he made him a lot more real than the last guy who played Mephisto. And i know so many of of you thought the fight scenes sucked even i admit they could improve on them but they were a hell (no pun intended) of a lot better than the fights from the last one, i think Ghost RIder punched Black Heart twice and then changed back into Jhonny, he may have thrown two or three fireballs at him but this one had the chain whipping around, the new improved hellcycle, explosions in Europe, and a lot more cooler action. Also the effects on Ghost RIder were so much better not the overall effects but just the ones on him i think at least they were better because they made his skull scarier and his clothes were burnt in the last one his jacket didnt get burnt at all.

    So did i like this movie yes but i thought it was a lot like an action movies from the 80′s like one with Steven Segal or Sylvester Stallone. There is a whole new standard for great super hero movies now and this one didn’t reach a lot of those standards. I’m not asking you guys to change your opinion i’m just asking you to realize that just because something doesn’t meat your expectations doesn’t automatically make it a bad movie it makes it different than what you first interpretted.

    -I will say that i would love to go on a church retreat in a church like that

    • Well you had me right up to when you started repeating yourself and then you used meat for meet and I just couldn’t stop laughing after that… Sorry.

    • i dont know what conor is saying, but the movie ghost rider 2 was the worst movie that nick cage has ever acted in, in the history of worst movies!!! this movie was not worth a dime, even if it was my last dime!!!!

      • If it was your last dime, I’m sure you wouldn’t spend it on any movie let alone a bad one :)

        But yes, terrible movie, I’d have more fun plucking my nose hairs.

      • If it was your last dime, I’m sure you wouldn’t spend it on any movie let alone a bad one :)

        But yes, terrible movie, I’d have more fun pulling out my nose hairs one by one.

      • No wicker man was lol

  6. This does not even deserve one star. Dire.

    I was looking forward to this as I disliked the first movie. I enjoyed Crank however, so was excited to see what Nev and Taylor could bring to the table. Utter disappointment. Bad action,(should of been 18/R imo)terrible plot progression and a many time recycled performance from Cage.

    The first movie was much better and to say this is on par with Punisher: War Zone would be an insult.

  7. What I just dont understand is why they gave this franchise another shot with the same actor. The first film was pretty bad, along the lines of Fantastic FOur bad and should not had warranted a sequel (or another retelling of the story with the same actor).

    To me, the Ghost Rider movies are done for the time being. Reboot it in a decade with a better director and actor

    Nicholas Cage has been renoundly known for making bad movies, esp in recent years, which is why I dont understand how pl still give him movie roles. I mean what does he have to offer i Just dont get it. Why is he in all of these movies, am i going nuts here?

    • I agree; I don’t understand why it happened. I was soooo happy to hear that they were going to reboot the series (new actor and all) and all of a sudden…it’s Nicolas Cage, AGAIN and not a reboot. I don’t want to do any typecasting here, but many people wanted to see Jensen Ackles in the role when that rumor was going around, and I thought that he would have been perfect. Ya, I’m skipping that one…sigh

  8. I have to almost agree with this review and sadly true die hard fans would wish upon a star for the ghost rider to kill this movie off as well as nic cage, which i do like him in some movies, and possibly several others who let this come to frutation. Some of the movie was good but overall i was dumbfounded by it. The story was almost typical of a movie in where the down and out troubled hero rises again to help someone in exchange for something that he lost long ago. I did enjoy last part of the movie and yes the kiling scenes were off the hook to some degree but man the 3d experience sucked donkeys rotten balls. I gave it a 2 star just because i totally did not overtly want to kill the people who geen lit the movie.

    The only part i do disagree with the review is that i loved Punisher War Zone…and they did give a little character devlopement in going further into the mythology or orgin of ghostie per say.

  9. I’m sorry but I usually don’t comment but…. I KNEW this movie was going to be CRAP!… I felt it in my bones!… and I just had to rub it in all the faces who saw the trailer and thought it was going to be so magnificent and awesome… I can admit I was burned by the first one and I am SO GLAD I saved my hard earned money and a precious two hours of my time and did something worthwhile… By the way I have humble pie, a spare foot for the mouth, and mud for all the faces who supported this piece of isht… SUCKERS!!!!!

  10. Three Punisher movies, two horrid Ghost Rider flicks, and one badly mismanaged Elektra, yet Marvel still keeps churning out this crap. Visually, Ghost Rider is impressive on the big screen, but he can’t carry a franchise by himself. Why don’t they just shut it down for a few more years until Nic Cage is forced to place his hands above his receeding hairline and step away from the vehicle? Reboot and relocate Hollywood stuntman Johnny Blaze to Los Angeles to team up a collection of likewise visually impressive characters who can’t open a movie alone. Black Goliath, Iceman, Angel, Hercules, Ghost Rider, and a recast Black Widow in a Champions movie sounds more feasible than Ghost Rider 3:The Stink Of Brimstone.

    • The Champions! Wow, a real blast from the past, Xmasevebaby – you must be a real hardcore Marvel guy! I very much doubt there are a dozen people on this site who remember “The Champions”. I barely remember them, and I bought their title when it came out back in the mid/late 70′s. I’m impressed! A “Champions” flick from the Marvel guys would be almost as obscure as a “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Inhumans” movie, which I have also seen suggested. I’d insist none of the above will ever happen, but then again I was flabbergasted when I found out they were releasing a Ghost Rider sequel, so what do I know. ;O)

  11. They first need to get rid of this PG 13 rating. Ghost rider is not supposed to be some kids super hero like super man or spider man.

  12. man this was bad seriously wtf happened? the first one was so good wish i had saved me 10 bucks o well

  13. Stopped reading after the first comment comparing it to the 1st movie. I’m sure it was a great article and all but I knew I was going to disagree with almost everything in it so why get worked up?
    I haven’t commented on a superhero movie in at least 3 years but had to now.
    I gave the 1st movie a chance. But I think we can all agree it was a b-scripted, b-acted, low b-setted, b-special-effect-laden tedious and dull wanky-ass affair.
    For that very reason did I put off seeing this new one but had nothing to do a few nights ago and streamed it.
    When I first noticed the eastern-Europe setting, I thought “Well, at least they’re smart enough to save the dough and hopefully put it where it counts: The Rider.”
    And that they did. The Rider looked AWESOME. The effects were AWESOME.
    And that’s all I’m in it for, The Rider and how well he does his thing. The 1st flick failed on every level at that whereas this one succeeded.
    I won’t get into the particulars of the story or dialogue or whatever except to say I thought they were all better than the 1st film. That’s just a matter of opinion.
    But Rider-wise?
    No contest.
    Not only is it leaps and bounds more presentable than the 1st (LOVED the comic book asides), but I had fun during the whole episode. And I BELIEVED in The Rider.
    Which is what matters most.
    Recommended.

  14. I watch a lot of Science Fiction. I can give credit where it is due or rip each a new one. Being critical is easy. That said, I recommend this movie to anyone accept those who think they are critics on cinematic, in which, unless you show me a positive, really cannot compare with blabbering about the negative. I am not a Nick Cage fan. Nor am I a fan of the first one in any way. The special effects were poor.
    I did read the comic though, and this movie had that flavor. Story line was simple. Find za boy. Protect za boy. Keep and convince za boy not to be za Devil or Satin if you will. Not that you have another choice really. Sure, I might have had Satin play his role a little different. I thought that role in Constantine was awesome.
    Characters in the movie where mostly flat. However, the action was in perfect keeping with the spirit of the comic. Needless to say but the Ghost Rider wasn’t too choosy about who he sent to the Depths in the beginning. Animation was good. Sound effects, good. Sets… Simple and effective. Not over blown and cinematic at all. This is Ghost Rider. Not Iron Man. And although Iron Man is a favorite of mine, Ghost Rider cannot be stopped. Just delayed.
    With the movies jacked up filming, portraying much more of a demonic horror flick, it was effective yet light. A few bad one liners. and a horrible ending. It needed much more at that point to rise above what came previous in its scenes. Without the element of the Rider though, yes, this would have been a very poorly written film story.

  15. i think its stupid bc if your gonna make a movie about a comic you should at least go somewhat by the comic for example biggest flaw of the movie GHOST RIDER AND VENGEANCE ARE TWO DIFFERENT CHARACTERS NOT THE SAME PERSON!!!

    • Ghost Rider is a spirit of vengeance. Vengeance is a spirit of vengeance. The movie is titled “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” not “Ghost Rider is Vengeance”.

  16. glad i just downloaded this one, watched it right after the DL was done and my god i thought this was a parody of the Ghost Rider sequel. It sucked BIG TIME, and the director literally made this as a joke..

  17. Script Writers sometimes rely on the actors and directing to enhance the story. But any good writer knows, that you can’t rely on actors to enhance anything, and you definitely should never rely on a director for enhancing a story. Even if the director was Peter Jackson or JJ Abrams, the writer must still design a story that even a film production major couldn’t mess up… David S. Goyer really dropped the ball on this one.

    Ghost Rider needs a dark, bloody, horrifying setting. An elaborate plot, where Johnny Blaze is the main focus throughout the film; developing his character for the first half-hour of the film, then showing the character experience his newly acquired ghost rider form for the next half-hour. 1 full hour of pure character development, and subtle plot engineering.

    Then for the last hour of the film (2 hour film is needed for Ghost Rider), have Blaze solve his internal demon, and use it for bringing evil men to justice, etc…

    Hopefully the origins stay true to form: “The first supernatural Ghost Rider is stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze, who, in order to save the life of his mentor, agreed to give his soul to “Satan” (later revealed to be an arch-demon named Mephisto). Instead, his soul bonded with the entity called Zarathos.”

  18. I was confused by this movie when I saw it. I thought the devil’s name was mephesto in the first movie, and then his name was Roarke? The way he made the deal was entirely different than the first one! The first one it was an accident and the second one he willingly signed? they didn’t seem very connected at all. The only thing that connects it to part 1 is that Nic Cage is Johnny Blaze. I think they could have put a little more effort into this sequal.

  19. I should have listened to the masses. I knew it was going to be bad due to negative reviews but I didn’t think it was going to be this bad. It is, without question, the worst film of the year. The bright spot is that one can see any other release and it will be better than this mess.

  20. I have disagree with most of you. This movie was fantastic. And I know many people who loved the first one and loves this one. Great effects, simple story, amazing action…Honesstly, if you don’t like the movie, don’t watch it.

  21. Just…. Wtf. Seriously butt hurt about it. If u don’t like ghost rider don’t try to ruin it for everybody else

  22. Just…. Wtf. Seriously butt hurt about it. If u don’t like ghost rider don’t try to ruin it for everybody else.

  23. I read the Ghost Rider comic as a kid and liked it quite a bit. I really enjoyed the first Ghost Rider movie. I just saw the second one “The spirt of vengence” and can honestly say that it sucked more than anything else has ever sucked in the history of sucking.

  24. Booooo! Boooooo!
    Wife and I just bought the DVD. Shouldn’t have!!! We absolutely loved the first Rider, killer bike, cool bad guys, good story line, and a little romance to keep the wife interested. We liked the first one so much, that we had to have it for our home movie collection. I like most of the flicks that Nick has been in, but this movie sucks but. Hardcore! The cinematic are what I call a European feel, and the reviewer called Extreme sports. I think it sucks. The folks that put this one together didn’t follow with the first one at all. Not much of a sequel. There was no “Look into my eyes” in this one. I don’t know where the writers were for this one, out to lunch maybe? After watching it I noticed the same guys did the movie Crank. I told my wife, she said “That explains it.” Neither one of us could stand Crank either. Maybe it’s just Neldine and Taylor’s “vision” in movie making that I just can’t stand.

  25. I am a Marvel Comics Fan and Marvel Movie fan. The FIRST Ghost rider was Excellent and the story line was supurb. AND the actors> Peter Fonda!!! way Cool. Eva Mendez and Nicholas Cage made it. #2. Sound was pitiful. Camera work was substandard. Still, The Rider was pretty good with the character “Danny”. But all in all the movie was painfull and it sucked.

  26. I just watched this on Blu-Ray for the first time and was pretty disappointed. So I watched the special features. The making of the movie. And basically it’s easy to understand what happened here. The same thing that happened to John McClane, a forced PG13 rating and execs calling the shots for artists. Even when the directors are saying they’re proud of it, you know it’s forced and not genuine. Another victim of hollywood idiots who are more concerned with money than art. Same as our pal the punisher. So true fans of the comic book character get to be let down and know that we’ll never get a good one because the pencil pushers are definitely not gonna keep funding these flops even if it is their fault it was terrible. Here’s what I have to say, in Chris Nolan I trust.. please take over Ghost Rider and Punisher… PLEASE!!! Let the grown ups have their characters. These guys weren’t made for kids.

  27. I actually liked this one about as much as the first……I’d say take the story and effort from the first one, & add the action of this one and we’re off to a good start.

  28. It stinks, the director and producer should be ashame of them selves for the cheap cg effects and poor story line

  29. The first movie i liked it was great bt second not so much bt dont go off on cage he was just acting it out nd yes we did expect more from him bt what r ur bad comments gonna change nothing so get over the movie