Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)
Firstly, Nicolas Cage has had quite the time of it lately. Season of The Witch, Drive Angry. Seeking Justice, Trespass and this makes 2011 one of the busiest years Cage has had as an actor for many moons. Given all of this experience and his hit ratio of good movies to downright plain average or awful ones, you'd expect him to be knocking out at least at least a four star production sometime soon. Hopes were high, coming off the back of Seeking Justice, which wasn't half bad, all told. New to the UK for 2012, but completed the year before, Ghost Rider 2 (for that is what it is) is the the second cinematic outing for Johnny Blaze, motorcycle stunt rider, who is possessed by a demon who appears when bad guys are around, when he sells his soul to the devil.
This story is annoyingly retold at the beginning of this film, narrated by a throaty Cage with all the menace of a Derek Zoolander pout. This did not bode well. Isn't the film for fanboys, motorcycle enthusiasts and closet homosexuals anyway? They know the story, they don't need it re-telling to them. Just get on with it already.
For some inexplicable reason, Johnny is now holed up in Eastern Europe (probably cheaper). The reason given for this is that it is generally believed to be safer for everyone if he is as far away from people as possible. So, his self-imposed exile only apparently applies to the health and safety of the American and Western European public. This is convenient as that is where most of the audience hails from.
The script is bland and lifeless with the plot centering on Johnny Blaze having to protect a mysterious young boy from the 'very bad men' that are chasing him for an as yet unknown reason. It is delivered with little or no passion and the whole thing comes across as an exercise in futile marketing. The acting is up there with Schwarzennegger's performance in the original Terminator, with only the welcome addition of Idris Elba The special effects are one tenth as impressive as in the first film and you can tell the budget has been cut by thirty-five million dollars. Honestly, it looks like they made it for a buck fifty and bag of fries. You know a film is terrible when you look at the budget and asked just how on earth, despite the massive cut in finance, did they manage to spend all that? This really should have gone down the pan with the likes of The Scorpion King 3, straight to DVD/Blu-Ray because honestly that is all it is fit for. If not for Cage's participation, it is unlikely the film would have made it to theatres at all.
If I was a die-hard fan of the franchise, instead of merely a passing observer, I would be spitting venom at the makers of the film, knowing that they are reducing the character of Johnny to nothing more than a circus side-show freak. If, as a film maker, you have a lousy script, actors off their game and a story that really doesn't go anywhere, you need to be asking why. If you really must make the movie anyway, with all of these handicaps, then you'd better make it look good to appease the eye candy enthusiasts as that is all the audience you will be left with. Disappointing.