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Notes On A DVD – Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance

I don’t get the appeal of Ghost Rider. A skeleton wearing leather with his head on fire riding a motorcycle – I think it might be an American thing, something to do with riding a ‘hog’ on the open road. The first film was not good, with the added yuck factor of an old Nicolas Cage wooing a far too young Eva Mendes, notable only for Cowboy Ghost Rider. The second film is worse, so much so that you retroactively create fond memories of the first film because of it.

Neveldine and Taylor direct this (instead of just scripting Jonah Hex; the story and co-scripting is by David Goyer, if we’re apportioning blame equally), so add to their list of crimes against comic books with a messy, noisy, mostly boring story with ropey CGI (the film was shown in 3D and you can see some very distorted landscapes during chase scenes) and a stupidly OTT Cage (instead of a fun OTT Cage – e.g. Bad Lieutenant) gurning and doing his bug-eyed, maniacal laughter thing. There is some Ghost Rider stuff near the start and then a long wait until more Ghost Rider stuff near the end, with a dull ‘protect the child who will be the vessel for the Devil’ plot. The set piece that stands out is where Ghost Rider turns a crane into a Ghost Rider vehicle, with fire erupting from it and using it smash up henchmen, but that’s about as interesting as it gets.

There’s no reason for Ghost Rider to be in this film: if the boy needs to be protected from Roarke (aka the Devil), the man who gave Ghost Rider his powers, how will the Ghost Rider be of any use? Completely counterintuitive. The justification for his involvement is that he will have the spirit of vengeance removed from him by monks. Erm, what? How is that possible? Then there is the explanation of how the spirit of vengeance was actually the angel of justice who was tortured into madness in Hell. What the what? In the end, after he has had the spirit of vengeance put back him to him after having it exorcised, Cage is now able to tap into the ‘spirit of justice’ to resurrect the boy who was going to be the vessel – what the double what now? It makes my head hurt just thinking about this nonsense again.

There is some bizarre novelty in seeing certain non-America actors in small roles. Anthony Head is a monk who gets quickly killed at the start of the film. Christopher Lambert looks even madder than usual as a head monk with a shaved head and writing all over his face and head. Idris Elba is perhaps the only person who retains some dignity from this film as a Frenchman (you can tell he is French because he likes drinking wine and his outrageous accent) who helps the monks to protect the boy although, like Head and Lambert, he dies because he’s not important. But it’s not enough to justify watching the film. The only positive I hope to take from this is that this film means there will be no more Ghost Rider films.

Rating: D

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