Combustible Celluloid
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With: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciarán Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Fergus Riordan, Anthony Head
Written by: Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman, David S. Goyer
Directed by: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, and language
Running Time: 95
Date: 12/11/2011

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For this sequel, the Ghost Rider franchise has changed directors; now we get the demented team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the boys behind Crank and Crank: High Voltage. The result is a slight improvement in style, but unfortunately, the movie still lags behind in the script and character department.

In the last movie, former stunt rider Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) made a deal with the devil and became Ghost Rider, a fearsome ghoul that rides a blazing motorcycle and feeds on the souls of the wicked. Now, attempting to hide from the world, he receives an offer from a priest (Idris Elba). If he can help rescue a mother (Violante Placido) and her son (Fergus Riordan), he can get his humanity back. But what Johnny doesn't know is that there's something special about the boy and that the ultimate evil on earth won't rest until he is captured. Can Johnny save the world, and also himself?

The movie features some gleefully twisted stuff, such as Blaze trying to fight off the transformation to Ghost Rider, speeding down the street, screaming and cackling with the effort. He also switches from a flaming motorcycle to an enormous flaming crane in one shot (apparently it doesn't matter what vehicle he rides). But the story -- borrowed from Superman II -- is sluggish and uninspired, with several bald spots of logic, and it has a distasteful penchant for violence against women and kids. The cardboard characters never inspire any connection; Cage plays his character as a touch too crazy, though Violante Placido is genuinely appealing.

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