High Desert Daily
(Victorville) Marvel Comics has been on a hot streak since last year’s plethora of releases. With X-Men: First Class, Thor and Captain America all wowing fans over the course of 2011, it looks like 2012 is on track for another landmark year. This year, the house of ideas has the Amazing Spider-Man hitting theaters, not to mention the long awaited Avengers film. Yet, the year of 2012 for Marvel kicks off with a sequel to one of its’ darker books: the rider is back with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.
Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the team behind the high-octane Crank films, the film has an all-new feel to it, setting it apart from the first film from 2007. The story focuses on Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage), a former motorcycle stunt man who made a deal with the devil to save his father’s life. In exchange, his soul is no longer his, and his body is bonded with a demon. When vengeance is seeing in the eyes of the demon, Blaze transforms into the flaming skull anti-hero known as the Ghost Rider. This sequel takes the rider in a different direction, in my opinion a much better direction.
Though Cage is back on the flaming motorcycle, he is the only cast member returning for the second outing. The film’s story kicks off with Moreau (Idris Elba), a French holy man of sorts, seeking out Blaze’s help with a catastrophic problem. The same evil that bartered with Blaze’s soul is seeking out a young boy who will make him even stronger. The deal is if Blaze helps protect the child, then Moreau will help in gaining back Cage’s soul. The child is on the run with his mother (Violante Placido), who are already being pursued and in need of some saving.
This time, Ghost Rider feels like an actual demon: from the way he acts, to the speed he runs with. It really helps in solidifying him as an object of terror. Cage pulls off another impressive performance, adding a little more insanity to the Johnny Blaze. The camera work in the film is another thing that felt completely different from the first, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Frantic, off centered angles are used throughout the film, all which add to the more menacing feel of the entire flick. I did not see the 3D version, so I cannot comment on the effects and if they enhanced the quality of the film.
Being a comic book fan, I liked the first Ghost Rider film. It wasn’t my top comic book movie, but I liked it. With Spirit of Vengeance, I feel the bar was raised for Marvel’s iconic hothead. The action has been ramped up, the connection to the characters involved is established, and Ghost Rider looks more and more like something riding the highways of the underworld. If you liked the first film, then you will love this. If you know nothing of Ghost Rider, that’s ok, the film is easily accessible and enjoyable for newcomers as well.