“Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” is here to set the weekend box office ablaze, once again putting Nicolas Cage back in the saddle as cursed motorcyclist Johnny Blaze. In “Vengeance,” Cage’s Blaze lives in isolation somewhere in Eastern Europe, hoping to keep the dark demon inside him at bay. But when a mysterious warrior comes calling for his services to stop the Devil from doing great evil, Blaze finds that some demons can’t be bottled away forever.
Directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor take the image and powers of Ghost Rider, the madness of Cage, and blend them together with their own undeniably unique style. The result is exactly what you would expect from such ingredients: pure chaos. It’s not chaos that everyone will enjoy, no, but I will say that I loved every minute of my ride with the “Spirit of Vengeance.”
Here are five reasons to check out the new “Ghost Rider” this weekend.
There’s no beating around the bush: the “Ghost Rider” roaring into theaters this weekend is made for a very specific crowd. If you’re not a fan of “Crank” filmmaking duo Neveldine/Taylor, this one might not be for you. Their vision is very much intact in “Spirit of Vengeance.” This is their take on Ghost Rider, not a painstaking adaptation that brings years and years of comic book continuity into the picture. Neveldine/Taylor’s depiction of Johnny and the Rider is, really, very simple: he’s a man with a demon inside of him that runs around with his head set on fire, horfing souls out of people’s eyes and turning people to ash with little effort. It’s flashy, it’s loud, it’s vibrant and violent as all get-out, and if you’re a fan of those things, it is a can’t-miss. It’s also a can’t-miss if you’re a fan of…
Cage Gone Wild
Few things in the world please me more than crazy Nic Cage. If you’re the same way, you’ll likely love “Spirit of Vengeance.” Cage is Cage at his craziest in this film, bringing a wild new energy to Johnny Blaze that was only “scratching at the door” before. There’s an interrogation scene in “Vengeance” where Blaze has to extract information from someone, but do it without unleashing the Rider — a task that’s no easy feat, as Cage assures the audience with escalating screams and absurd body movements. The scene is, in my opinion, an instant Cage classic. Think bees.
Turn Off The Dark
A good comic book flick is nothing without a solid villain at the core. “Ghost Rider” has two such villains. The Devil, played by veteran actor Ciaran Hinds, is a menace with great power and little desire for responsibility. Solid as he is, he pales in comparison to Johnny Whitworth as Blackout. Played with a nice balance of cheese and natural charisma, Whitworth gives us the most memorable “Ghost Rider” movie villain yet (admittedly not saying much), thanks largely to the inventiveness of Blackout’s power set. But again… this isn’t a strict adaptation of Blackout from the comics. The visual is there, but beyond that, this is mostly an all-new character. Get used to a lot of that if you want to ride with the “Spirit of Vengeance.”
The Island of Doctor Moreau
But the best supporting character of all, probably to the surprise of no one, is Idris Elba as Moreau. The gun-toting, booze-guzzling French warrior monk is a smooth charmer with a darkness inside him, a feisty and flashy character that Elba chews on to great effect. His dynamic with Cage is sound, but really, Moreau on his own is awesome enough. If “Spirit of Vengeance” does well, I’d strongly encourage Neveldine/Taylor to film a series of Moreau-centered spinoffs.
He pees fire, and that’s not even the most ridiculous thing that Ghost Rider manages to do in “Spirit of Vengeance.” This is a nasty, nasty movie for a PG-13 rating. Neveldine/Taylor figured out how to push the boundaries of the rating and, true to their word, delivered something much closer to their proposed PG-16 rating. From Blaze turning baddies to ash, to Blackout decomposing his opponents with a simple touch, the visuals of “Spirit of Vengeance” are gruesome and gnarly. Did I mention he pees fire?