Someone needs an oil change.

Theatrical Release Date: 02/17/2012
Directors: Neveldine/Taylor
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciarán Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, and language.
Runtime: 1 hour, 35 minutes


Fire. Fire!

For all you “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans, Anthony Head is in this film briefly (minus the “Stewart”)! For all you “Highlander” fans, Christopher Lambert is in this film briefly (with a different sword)! For everyone else, shudder in terror at the prospect of another movie starring Nicolas Cage as a flaming skeleton … no, this isn’t “Bad Lieutenant 3″ … it’s “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”! Hooray! Yippee! Wait … sorry, still woozy from watching this one.

Gone is Eva Mendes, replaced by Violante Placido. Gone is America, replaced by Europe. Gone is any sense of pride, replaced by shame knowing this movie will make any money whatsoever.

What audiences are “treated” to is the stylings of co-directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. That means stylized action in the vein of the “Crank” movies they did, it means a sloppy animated backstory, it means no one reined in Nicolas Cage. In fact, it’s possible he hasn’t been this off the reservation on film since 2006′s remake of “Wicker Man” (not withstanding “Bad Lieutenant 2” which called for that kind of characterization).

That video was there to help get you in the right headspace. For anyone who sat through the tortuous “Ghost Rider“, unfortunately it’s just more of the same here, despite ditching the terrible director of the first one and bringing in guys known for hyperkinetic action (if nothing else). And speaking of the action, it’s not that some of it isn’t halfway decent … it’s that none of it makes the whole experience any less boring.

Although this is a movie that just barely passes the one and a half hour mark, it sure feels like a prison sentence staying in those uncomfortable seats. First we get the bad animated opening to catch people up with the origin of Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider (Cage/CGI). Then there’s gunfire and a brief car chase. Then some boring talking. Then a fight with some more gunfire and combusting bodies. Then some boring talking. Then a fight with a lot of gunfire, combusting bodies, and a hellfire-powered crane. Then some boring talking. Do you see where this is going?

Occasionally something happens that doesn’t totally suck (technical film criticism term). Idris Elba plays a drunk monk (well, maybe not monk … something religious … “drunk monk” rhymes okay?!). His character is at least somewhat interesting, though perhaps more because of Elba’s screen-presence than anything written on the post-it note they call a script. Having Christopher Lambert pop up out of nowhere brought the promise of something interesting (which was quickly dashed). And there are a few times when Cage is truly let off the leash and he goes full-nutbag, which is some of the funniest stuff I’ve seen in a while.

In fact, to a certain degree, the entire movie is a comedy. Sure, it’s a comedy of errors and excess but laughter is laughter. My problem with it all (aside from one of the cooler characters in the Marvel comics universe turned into a laughing stock) is that rather than go all out and play up the insanity that is Nic Cage playing a flaming skeleton, it all plays out a bit like “The Transporter 3“. Only instead of Jason Statham having to deal with an annoying woman and driving in Europe, it’s Nic Cage having to deal with a woman with so little presence I almost forgot she was on-screen … while driving in Europe.

And if anyone was thinking that putting this in 3D would do anything, stop thinking. Sure, I was wearing those tinted glasses and saw from the “Wrath of the Titans” trailer that those filmmakers still don’t know how to make the new technology work. However, neither do Neveldine and Taylor. While much of the film appears to have been converted to 3D, very little to none of it seemed to add any real depth (if it was shot in 3D, that’s even more sad). Hell, they didn’t even throw much AT the audience just to be gimmicky. Paying for the 3D isn’t just a poor decision, it’s an irrelevant one since you won’t be able to tell much of a difference.

With all those negatives, it’s no shocker that this wasn’t screened for most press. The studio knows that the hardcore fans aren’t the type to read movie reviews and that discerning adults will find little to like from a filmmaking perspective. However, I don’t think they realize that the most fun reviews to write aren’t filled with praise and admiration for a superbly crafted film. Nope, it’s way more fun to trash a crappy movie and vent over the terrible in-theater experience.

For that, I say thank you, “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”. A 1.5 out of 5, you’re a terrible, terrible movie. But your review was quick and easy to write; allowing me to warn anyone on the fence to stay far, far away while also confirming the suspicions of those who knew better than to be suckered into the promise of new directors righting the ship. This one might very well make some end of the year lists … just not the kinds of lists anyone involved with making the movie might want to be associated with. Congrats anyways, you’ve all earned it.

1.5 out of 53D No