The burn-outs of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Posted by CB Droege

The film’s opening scenes are a bit kooky, and feels (mostly) like no one actually cares about what is going on. This sets up the rest of the film rather nicely, as it’s a mostly terrible schlock-fest.

Spirit of vengeance is the sequel to the 2007 Ghost Rider film with Nicholas Cage. Having seen the first film when it came out, I knew to expect some schlock. That movie wasn’t particularly ‘good’, but it was fun to watch most of the scenes, and the combat was cool.nThis film doesn’t even get that far.

The first thing one notices is the  strange cinematography. There are lots of odd camera angles from either too close or to low, and many shots linger oddly in one place too long or  focus on the wrong subject. I'm not sure what the director was trying to do with all these off-putting shots, but he certainly failed.

The pacing is off as well. Many scenes contain far too many characters just breathing, or staring at one another. To make matters worse, the film is interrupted more than once with these really terrible animated expositions, voiced by a Nick Cage who sounds like he really doesn’t want to be in the sound studio today, which fully break what little immersion has been built.

The last place I was expecting to find problems was with the combat scenes. From the trailer, it looked like those shots would at least be fun, but alas, the few cool moves or interesting chain-whips are merely the dull punctuation which sits at unpredictable intervals inside of awkward combat scenes devoid of any real cheering moments.

The fight choreography is strangely slow and as poorly paced as the rest of the film - with combatants moving like people who are perpetually stunned and confused by everything going on around them and never manage to snap out of it. This includes the Ghostrider demon, who is supposed to be quick and merciless, even when judging.

For example, in one  early fight scene, the Ghost rider spends literally multiple minutes just staring into the eyes of a frightened ‘bad goon #2’ while we watch. The goon is scared, being held in Ghostriders’ arms, as if in a dip after a salsa dance, and they stare at one another, filling the frame with a complete lack of any emotion from either actor until one wants to tell them to just get on with it already, and one wonders what all the other characters supposedly in this scene are doing.

In fact, most of the characters fail to take the situations in the film with anything other than simple stunned apathy. Even Johnny Blaze, the Ghostrider’s alter ego, is lacking. The character is unrelatable, unsympathetic, and ridiculously natured. He shifts mental positions and emotions so much that one doesn’t just get the impression that he’s possessed; he’s just silly and out of control, more like Jim Carrey’s The Mask than anything from the Ghostrider comics.

Cage himself gives what is possibly the worst performance of his career. Everything he does feels contrived and, combined with the poor pacing and odd camera angles, makes every scene uncomfortable, either flat, melodramatic, or over-extended. The fake 3D doesn't do the film any favors either.

It’s almost like the makers of this film though that the idea was to craft a slow, grind house parody without all the gore. If that was their intent, they succeeded. If you value your time at all, skip this one entirely.

Ghosr Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is in theaters now.