There is a feast of films in the upcoming months to satisfy even the most diehard of comic book fans, the avengers, the re-boot of Spiderman and the concluding part of the new Batman trilogy are all released this year. This past weekend I went to see the first comic book turned movie to be released this year, “Ghost Rider – The Spirit of Vengeance” I was excited I know a lot of effort went into the making of it, directors Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor (Jonah Hex) are known for making visually stunning films and a cast of actors that include a cameo role for Christopher Lambert it seemed like I was in for a treat. The story follows the flaming skull and his human host Johnny blaze once more played by Nicholas Cage in Eastern Europe where he must protect a child from the devil himself, if he can manage this he has been promised to have the demon exorcised from him once and for all.
My excitement however was extremely short lived, yes the film is as stunning visually as you would expect, yes there is some great action scenes but any film still needs the story to be strong to move it along and it simply is lacking hugely in this department. An effort is made to try to be darker this time around but it simply does not work, you can usually expect a few light laughs from Cage but even they are lacking here and it is simply an awful movie to sit through. The plot has holes everywhere, you have too much backstory in some places and not enough where it counts, on a basic level it is a Hollywood tale about redemption but it’s so predictable and so Hollywood that it loses the edginess that a comic book movie should have.
As an entity the ghost rider should scare us all a demon who feeds on the souls of the wicked and does not see a difference between the man who once stole something and the man who killed a million people in the rider’s eyes evil is evil. The comic book does a great job in showing this and in Johnny blaze’s struggle to control it within him, again a complexity of a demon living within us all, but Hollywood is 0 for 2 when it comes to getting this across on the big screen. Movies these days tend to come along in three’s but I can only hope that something takes this evil away before they are allowed to poison the screen with a third offering, perhaps a back to the drawing board re-boot is needed.
In terms of the cast Violante Placido plays the female lead Nadya a gypsy trying to protect her son and a lady who has her own pact with the devil, Idris Elba plays a French priest who is seeking to help the boy and the ghost rider although we are never too sure why. An actor I do generally love Ciaran Hinds plays the devil but is not sneaky enough in the role for me to come off as the real trickster the comic book tells of. However there is one bright spark within the film the role of Danny played by the young Fergus Riordan is genuinely good in his role and is perhaps a big star in the making.
I had read it had not been well received in test screenings and it is hard to know if they changed anything as a result, in truth it is poor from start to finish and while it does once more look great there is simply not enough in the film to keep you entertained. Those responsible for this film may themselves have made a pact with the devil to ensure it makes millions across the globe but for me you are better off saving your money to see one of the other comic book films released later in the year. 2/5