12A certificate, 95 minutes
Directors: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Ciarán Hinds and Idris Elba
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance sees Nicolas Cage (Season of the Witch, Stolen) reprising his role as Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider.
At the beginning of the film, at some unnamed location in Eastern Europe, a religious order is discussing a boy, Danny (Fergus Riordan), who apparently holds great power that can be used for ill. The boy is being pursued by forces led by Ray Corrigan (Johnny Whitworth), at the behest of Roarke (Ciarán Hinds, Miami Vice, The Woman in Black, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy).
The order is attacked and Danny and his mother, Nadya (Violante Placido), flee. A member of the order, Moreau (Idris Elba, Bastille Day, Pacific Rim), who has a bit too much of a liking for alcohol, seeks out Johnny Blaze, who has fled to the area because he is losing control of the Ghost Rider inside him.
It turns out Roarke is the devil in human form, and the one who offered the deal to become the Ghost Rider to Johnny Blaze in the first place in order to stop his father from dying.
Now, if you've seen the original film, this bit is somewhat puzzling. The deal wasn't offered by anyone called Roarke - who appears to have been made up just for this film - it was offered by Mephistopheles. Johnny didn't sign the contract in blood as willingly as is made out in the flashback, and the actual circumstances of how his father was dying have also been changed.
The Ghost Rider too has undergone some changes. Gone is the Penance Stare; instead the Rider now apparently has acquired a taste for eating souls. His clothes have also changed; when he becomes the Ghost Rider, instead of the metal-spiked leather of the previous film, and later comics, he appears to be wearing some sort of bubbling, tarry leather. He is also able to go out during the day at times, something the Rider was not able to do before.
His bike has also changed; although still aflame, it has less of the bone and skull ornamentation that the original bike did, instead it just glows red hot in places.
The appearance of the Rider just doesn't look as good as it did in the first film.
Blaze agrees to help the boy and get him to the sanctuary of the order, where he does, as promised, have his curse removed. Of course, it is never as simple as that. The boy is taken again by Roarke's people, and Moreau, Blaze and Nadya go in pursuit. Not surprisingly, Johnny has to become the Ghost Rider again in order to help save Danny and defeat Roarke.
The film had a much lower budget than the original, and quite frankly, you can tell. Studios often film in Eastern Europe to save money, rather than any good reason to do with the plot. Not that there is much in the way of plot anyway. The "special effects" in some of the scenes are just removing the background, replacing it with darkness or light, and leeching the colour from the actors. Special effects, Photoshop style. This is often combined with jerking the camera around.
Nicolas Cage is doing his standard, crazy, Nicolas Cage acting, which he could probably do in his sleep. The lack of continuity between the first and second films is annoying, especially as there is no apparent need to do this, other than to shoehorn Roarke in. Something which could have been avoided by not having Roarke replace Mephistopheles in the first place.
There are a couple of interludes where pictures are shown to a voice over by Cage; some of the things said or shown in these bits are just silly. It appears that the film is trying to get a somewhat comic tone in places, given how the Rider sometimes acts. If so, this didn't work at all.
The film is shot in 3D, and it appears this may have taken a chunk out of the budget. As with so many films, shooting in 3D didn't add anything to the film other than making it more expensive to watch, with the added bonus of a potential 3D headache these films can induce.
I have yet to see a live action film where the 3D improved it, or even was actually noticeable, and this is no exception. The current fad for 3D just seems to involve sticking it anywhere without considering whether there is any point. Fortunately, the craze appears to be dying down a bit. 3D works better with pure computer animation than it does with live action.
The original film may not have been a masterpiece, but at least it was enjoyable nonsense. Not only is Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance not as good as Ghost Rider, it's just simply not very good at all.