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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Cage, flames can’t salvage awful Ghost Rider film

Moreau (Idris Elba), Nanya (Violante Placido) and Johnny Blaze (Nicholas Cage) salvage light arms from an abandoned sanctuary in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.
Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures
Moreau (Idris Elba), Nanya (Violante Placido) and Johnny Blaze (Nicholas Cage) salvage light arms from an abandoned sanctuary in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures

By Joshua knopp/managing editor

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance looks and feels as though it were directed by the flame-headed demon himself.

The movie is a chase. Satan (Ciaran Hinds) is using Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth) to chase down his son, Danny (Fergus Riordan), whose body is the proper age for Satan to take over. Moreau (Idris Elba) and Danny’s mother, Nanya (Violante Placido) and, reluctantly, Johnny Blaze/the Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage) try to stop him.

Ghost Rider has pathetic dialogue, and the camera work is amateur at best. Directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, known for their work in Crank, are the right call, but they could get 21st century-quality cameras or at least a steady-handed person to hold them. Dialogue that sounds like something a human being would actually say is necessary for a movie. Ghost Rider’s dialogue lacks that quality, and most of the actors (Cage isn’t considered human by a growing number of people, so he gets a pass) visibly struggle to get their lines out because they’re so ridiculous.

If an audience member has an acid habit, Ghost Rider might make for a good trip. Cage delivers a manic crack-addict performance, and a lot of the special effects are extremely zany, despite being basic CGI. The whole thing is cartoonish conceptually, but, unfortunately, the movie doesn’t cross the line into cartoon land on its own. The audience must fill in the blanks with imagination.

Requiring audience imagination is both a strength and a weakness for the movie. It definitely stimulates creativity in an audience that doesn’t shut the movie out. But with a budget of $57 million, couldn’t they have brought more of it to life?

Moreau (Idris Elba), Nanya (Violante Placido) and Johnny Blaze (Nicholas Cage) salvage light arms from an abandoned sanctuary in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.
Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures

That refusal to go all the way is the most infuriating thing about Ghost Rider. The base story, penned by the extraordinary David S. Goyer, is fantastic and touches on Blaze’s past, the identity of the Rider, the difference between justice and vengeance and whether or not heroes are defined by their superpowers, but the final script doesn’t explore these in any depth. The film has some pretty neat visuals, but it doesn’t repeat them to form motifs or use them to enhance the way the story is delivered.

There’s an inherent romance in the Ghost Rider character that simply cannot be undone. The flaming motorcycle, the western justice, the penance stare… The flaming motorcycle… This movie, though it doesn’t do the character justice, does capture the key fantastic elements he embodies.

It would be wonderful to see this story with a professional-grade script and serious direction, but Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is impossible to recommend.

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