I remember when I first saw the image of Ghost Rider in an advertisement in a Marvel comic I was a little scared of him. As I grew older and they published new comics with this character I felt more comfortable. Ghost Rider was nothing more than a cynical combination of two of the 1970’s hottest fads in Evel Knevil and devil worshipping. But after seeing the sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance I am again terrified by this character.
Until I saw this stinker I had forgotten it had been a while since I had seen a truly terrible movie. One where instead of wit there are one-liners, instead of a plot there are 3D explosions, instead of believable character development there is Nicolas Cage hamming it up.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Nicolas Cage. His twitchy overacting can make a bad movie watchable and good movies like Adaptation, Wild At Heart, and Raising Arizona into classics. His performance in the first Ghost Rider as Johnny Blaze, a daredevil motorcyclist who sold his soul to the devil, saved the movie until the crummy video gameesque CGI special effects overwhelmed it. But in the new Ghost Rider movie there’s a lot more Ghost Rider and a lot less Nic Cage.
Part of the problem is there were no classic Ghost Rider stories to base the movie on. Rather the comic creators relied on the unforgettable imagery of a flaming skull dressed in leather riding a motorcycle to draw in readers. But if you’re going to take the time and money to make a multimillion dollar movie, I think it would have been worthwhile to tell a story less mundane than this dreck.
The kid in me still gets excited whenever I attend one of these comic book movies, it transports me to childhood when I wanted nothing more than to see my favorite characters on the big screen. They’ve released enough quality adaptations from X-men to Iron Man that I keep my enthusiasm for the genre. But Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance with its industrial heavy metal soundtrack, dark imagery, and boring villains gave me a bitter flashback to the nineties comic book movies like The Crow and Spawn that lacked the fun, the conflicted characters, and the surprise plot twists that make comic book reading worth becoming a social pariah for.