Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was not a horrible movie in that it had decent graphics and would probably be fun for the ages of 8 to 14 – hardcore death-metal fans may find it enjoyable as well. No one could have channeled whatever Mark Neveldine and Brain Taylor (Crank 1 & 2, Jonah Hex, Gamer) were trying to get at with Johnny Blaze’s neurotic, junky attitude like Nicholas Cage (Lord of War, National Treasure 1 & 2, Sorcerer’s Apprentice). However lousy a story can be, he seems able to pull it through to the end and look back at something that’s not a total mess. This isn’t the first movie based on a Marvel comic book that begins with the hero hiding in another country in order to keep his powers from harming others. Unlike Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk, Johnny Blaze has been brooding more than using his time to fix the personal issue of having sold his soul to the Devil played by Ciarán Hinds (Munich, Road to Perdition, There will be Blood). A man named Moreau, Idris Elba (The Wire, Thor, American Gangster), arrives at Blaze’s shack with a proposition: help him rescue two kids and he and his organization will help him remove the rider from his body, even though in the previous movie Blaze was given the opportunity to have the rider removed and refused. There are awkward moments where the movie feels like a heavy metal music video with Johnny Blaze blaring towards the screen as he transforms into the Ghost Rider. I get that his ultra power is to transform his steed – in this case vehicle – into a hellish death-mount, but Blaze destroying an entire construction site after hopping in a bucket-wheel excavator just to knock out a few minions is laughable. The only thing worse than the lame attempts at humor was the dialogue. The kids are Nadya, Violante placido (The American, Soul Mate, Sleepless) and Danny, Fergus Riordan (Fragile, I want to be a Soldier, El sueño de Iván), the devil’s son who could contain more power than his father. After helping the kids, Moreau and his group of spirit monks remove the rider from Johnny Blaze while the devil creates an unfeasible villain, Johnny Whitworth (3:10 to Yuma, Gamer, Limitless) from the defeated minions earlier who can touch something and make it decay – a sort of touch-of-Midas kind of ability that requires him to get in close to his foes, which isn’t very practical for your average super villain. Roarke – the devil – then captures Danny and plans to inhabit his body so that his power will be unlimited. The plot stays true to the old Ghost Rider cartoons where no matter how bad the situation gets Ghost Rider wins with a lackluster finishing move and little resistance from the antagonist. The movie had some good actors and everyone did fairly well with the material, but the material is what brought the whole thing down. The 3-D was mild at best. Considering how good the first Ghost Rider was this should have been better.
2 out of 5 Stars (2.30)