By: Garrett Collins
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Anthony Head and Christopher Lambert
That’s it. I give up. After witnessing the below average but semi-watchable 2007 film Ghost Rider, I had hope going into this that there was no way they could screw up Marvel’s emotional equivalent of DC’s own Batman again. I thought with Cage being back, and a whole new set of filmmakers at the helm (Mark Nevaltine and Brian Taylor, the team behind the successful Crank series), and some pretty decent trailers & previews (the Comic Con footage actually won me over), this could be the Ghost Rider film that sends the character into the creative stratosphere and put aside the laughingstock that the character had become by the end of the last film.
Wow, was I wrong!! First thing’s first: I should have known after reading that Eva Mendes had refused to come back to this film how big of a turkey this was going to be. However, I still had hope, and sat down in my seat with my 3D glasses nudged off my cap, soon to be across my nose. And, then you have the plot of the film, which involves Cage once again returning to his fire-faced role of the Ghost Rider, who is hiding out in Eastern Europe and living a pretty decent life, alter-ego notwithstanding. He then gets word from a drunken sect of the church (played by Thor’s Idris Elba) that the devil is trying to take human form once again, this time in the form of a child. Once he saves the boy, he will have the possibility of having the curse that has rendered him a hell beast lifted forever.
I need to start this review off by letting out that I have never been a big fan of the Crank series. Sure, I have seen them. But, that was when they were in theaters, and I haven’t seen them, nor had any desire to, since. Part of the reason is that Nevaltine/Taylor’s frenetic cuts and action makes me think of Michael Bay on speed. Anyone who knows me knows that this kind of action has never been my cup of tea. But, you know what? They had me with the first shot of this movie, as they show Elba from behind riding a motorcycle in a black leather jacket with his head being covered; throwing me off thinking it was Blaze. Good move guys. You got me. And, even the first action scene of the movie caught me off guard, but was nonetheless entertaining. Also, any problems I had with the first film’s effects were very nicely fixed here, five whole years after the last one. The Ghost Rider’s face is now a deep black ash instead of nicely white unburnt bone, with the fire around it more real looking than ever. Kudos to the effects artists of this movie.
However, as much credit as I am giving to the effects artists, I am going to take away from Cage here. What the hell was he thinking with this performance?! There is a reason that the guy, who was once pretty respected and has an Oscar to his credit, has had a horrid couple year string of films (with the notable exceptions being Kick Ass and Bad Lieutenant 2). With his manic habit of drinking whole pitchers of water and calling Placido’s character the “devil’s baby mama,” it’s almost a case of looking like the same guy from the last film, but acting like a completely different character. Also, Nevaltine/Taylor have littered their film with bad jokes, such as giving a picturized account of the history of evil, and then concluding with an unnecessary and extremely unfunny random placement of a Jerry Springer photo. I’m sorry, but this really reminded me of the direction that Joel Schumacher took Batman & Robin. Yes folks, this film’s that bad.
The Terminator 2-type dynamic of Cage, Placido, and Hinds played ok sometimes. But, again, Nevaltine/Taylor always find a way to disturb even the few good flows they had going. Then, to top it all off, the devil’s main cronie ends up being a character called Blackout, who looks like he came directly from a Del Torro movie, notably Hellboy 2. Even the presence of both Anthony Head (Giles from Buffy) and Christopher Lambert (That’s right, I said Christopher Lambert!) hit a dead end for me. With their split screen phone calls, gimmicky 3D rendering, and use of kinetic flashes instead of wipes, Nevaltine/Taylor have managed to turn this franchise into a parody of itself. And, given that the first one wasn’t that good to begin with, that’s a pretty bad insult. You know you’re in trouble when you long for the appearance of Eva Mendes and her 8 ball.
1.5 out of 5