I actually really wanted Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance to be good. I’m a comic book fan, and I had hopes that directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor would bring the same wit, vigor, and panache that they brought to Crank, Crank: High Voltage, and to a lesser extent, Gamer. It takes time and energy to effectively execute remarkable cinematography, and it’s an even bigger challenge to keep your story before your intense visuals. I will acknowledge that there are some neat moments in Spirit of Vengeance, and maybe somebody will be goodly enough to put those moments to rocking music and post it on YouTube one day.
But Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is a bad film. The screenwriters seem more lost than ever as to effectively translating the complexities of the comic book to the silver screen, and have decided to jam dialogue that manages to be more dreadfully wooden than its 2007 predecessor (not an easy feet, I assure you). This is compounded by a yet-another zany performance from the always-zany Nicholas Cage, which manages to make a laughably unwatchable psycho out of a guy cursed because he tried to save his father’s life. The characters that surround our hero move scene to scene without focus or desire, and the only time the actors know how to respond to the action is when the script denotes that “Ghost Rider is a’ comin'”.
If the script and the acting weren’t atrocious enough, the cinematography is an equally astonishing disaster. The trailers may have promised some cinematographic rule-breaking, but it never indicated the visual confusion of Transformers-like proportions that audiences are to be subjected to in Spirit of Vengeance. Neveldine, Taylor, and director of photography Brandon Troust have brought the very same hyper-kinetic visual style that gave them street cred — without the ingenuity and control to make sure their wild camera resembles anything even remotely watchable. Sometimes it’s like a shaky extreme activities video, sometimes it’s like an iPod commercial — but rarely is it like a film should look.
Admittedly, I sliced my leg open on a random piece of scrap metal courtesy of Santa Monica, CA while en route to my screening of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Yes, I was running late to the theater. Yes, I missed the respective logos for Columbia Pictures, Hyde Park, Magenation, and Marvel Knights (the new “hard core” arm of Marvel’s film production company). Yes, I managed to not see the start of the first nonsensical and confusing action sequence. But I’m pretty positive me being a few minutes late has little bearing on my sheer distaste for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars
For more of Gary’s reviews and musings, visit garysundt.wordpress.com.
For more information on Gary’s work as a filmmaker, visit summertimekillersmovie.com.