Monday, May 26, 2014

Give Us Your Worst, Part 25: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

The first Ghost Rider movie reduced the character to a joke, an approach I was perfectly okay with. You won't find many people in this world who will defend part one, but I had a lot of fun watching it, flaws and all. Most comic fans agreed with the critics, however, and a sequel seemed unlikely.

But while very few people believed in him, Nicholas Cage wanted to demonstrate that he did understand the dark, tormented character and that he could bring that version to the screen. I'll let you judge the results:

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is an odd movie, to say the least. It's difficult to imagine there was any point during production when the directors weren't high on something.

The movie oscillates wildly between intense moments of unintentional humor and bland stretches that threaten to put you to sleep. The action sequences are extraordinarily bizarre: they were clearly aiming for surrealism, but the results feel more like a music video than a dream. In addition, the power levels are ridiculously uneven, even more so than in the first movie. There's really only one super-powered villain, unless you count the devil (you shouldn't count the devil, by the way: Ghost Rider kicks his ass without effort). The less said about this movie's take on the other villain, Blackout, the better.

There are some entertaining moments, largely thanks to Idris Elba, who plays by far the most interesting character in the film. Also, the parts that aren't painfully boring are entertaining. Not necessarily for the reasons the filmmakers intended, but that's a trivial detail. The movie includes a sequence where Ghost Rider's powers transform a gigantic crane into some sort of hell-contraption. There's a scene where a kid vomits lava onto Nicolas Cage's face. And, yes, he pees fire (it's just imaginary, but it's still in the movie).

I'll remind you once more: this was supposed to be the SERIOUS Ghost Rider movie.

Like it or hate it, the first one at least achieved the tone it set out to create. This is just... weird. Cage's unrestrained take on being possessed by a demonic entity was clearly meant to be disturbing and dark, but it winds up feeling like an old Looney Tunes short. Only, you know, not artistic or nuanced.

I've seen worse, but I don't recommend anyone track this down, though it's almost worth a trip to YouTube to see some more of Cage's overacting. There are some hilarious sequences in this movie.

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