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Review: 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance' (2011)

Updated: Jul 25, 2019

Everybody who knows me knows I’m not perfect. For those of you who only know me through reading these articles in The Man Corner, you’re probably thinking, “But I’ve read your stuff! It’s SOOO good, there’s no way you aren’t perfect!” First of all, thank you, and. . . ya, that’s a fair point. You’re right about that. . . but I’ll prove it to you. I was browsing for a movie to watch and write about, and I was having a hard time deciding. I stumbled on 2011’s Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Instead of doing what any decent human being would have done and not even consider watching it, I chose to give it a chance. . . I don’t think you are getting just how terrible a choice I made. See, it wasn’t like I knew nothing about it and figured I’d give it a shot; that would be forgivable. No, I have seen the first one and I remembered, very clearly, how awful that one was; I knew full well that Nic Cage was reprising his role as Ghost Rider in this sequel; I was aware that it was directed by the talentless hack duo behind movies like Crank (2006), Crank 2: High Voltage (2009), and Gamer (2009); Hell, I think a part of me (ok, all of me) knew this would be a horrible watching experience. I knew all of these things and I still chose to watch it.

If there is one thing that might have been responsible for me choosing to watch this movie, it’s Nic Cage. I wouldn’t say I’m a Nic Cage Fan per se; I guess it’s more like I’m a Nic Cage apologist/defender. He’s not so bad. Some of his movies are fun, and even the ones that aren’t have a certain ‘It’s so bad that it’s good” kind of Nic Cage charm to them. Besides that, I suppose I will always owe him a certain amount of respect for what he contributed to action movies in the 90s. Now, I’m not wanting this to come off as an excuse for choosing to watch Spirit of Vengeance (Hell, if anything, my attitude towards Cage is even more evidence that I’m not perfect). I’m just trying to lay everything out on the table in hopes that maybe, once you’re done reading this, you can forgive me, and we can all move past this atrocity.

Speaking of Nic Cage, he’s second from the top on the list of things that are horrible in this movie, and that list is very long (I’ll discuss the top of that list in a bit). He was miscast as Ghost Rider for the first movie, and he’s no better here. At times, he tries to be the crazy/weird/fun Nic Cage that he is in pretty much every movie he does nowadays, but, at other times, he takes it too seriously, trying to channel the dark, cursed, tough guy part of the role. He does neither of those very well so neither one works separately, let alone meshed together like this. I could have accepted it had he committed to one or the other, but, as it is, it just ends up being a mixed bag of garbage.

To be fair, Cage wasn’t the only horrible actor. The acting was pretty horrible across the board. Literally nobody acted well in this movie, not even Idris Elba (Prometheus (2012), Star Trek Beyond (2016)) whom I know is a talented actor (way too talented to be in this crap, that’s for sure), but it wasn’t entirely the actors’ fault. The script didn’t exactly give them a whole lot to work with (It’s still mostly on Cage though. I mean, that man just plain can’t act regardless of the script). This is easily one of the most poorly written scripts I have ever seen, with its idiotic story, its brain-dead dialogue, and its completely pathetic attempts at humor, including a scene involving Ghost Rider peeing a huge wall of flames (Ya, I’m not being funny; that actually happened!) In fact, the writers thought that image was SOOOO funny, they decided to show it twice! Like Cage, the movie can’t quite figure out whether it wants to be campy and silly or dark and serious, and it can’t manage to succeed at either. I would put these writers at number one on my personal list of least favorite writers ever. . . and that’s not even a real thing! Nobody makes lists about writers. I just made that up right now to try to get across how horrible this script is.

I can’t stress enough how truly terrible everything was in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. The absolute worst aspect of the movie, however, is the directing, and it’s not even close. The camerawork is so bad, it made it hard to watch. That’s not an exaggeration; this movie is only an hour and a half long, and it took me three sittings to get through it because the camerawork was making me angry. The directors, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, are so obsessed with moving the camera around, it becomes nauseating. They use a handheld camera technique for every scene, and the camera is constantly shaking, swinging, zooming, etc. making even the non-action scenes unbearable. I’m serious, these guys make Michael Bay’s seizure-cam style look like slow motion. I’ll make a statement right here in front of all of you. I will never, EVER, watch another movie directed by either of these directors. Not even if it has Bruce Willis in it. . . Not even on a triple dog dare!

I suppose I should mention the one thing about the movie that was not complete and utter trash. That is the look of the Ghost Rider. When he’s not Nic Cage and he actually becomes Ghost Rider, he really does look awesome. The cartoonish, clean, silly looking version of the 2007 Ghost Rider is replaced with a much darker aesthetic in Spirit of Vengeance. The skull and jacket look charred and oily like they are actually burning, and the flames emit a dark black smoke which adds to the intimidating look. This version actually looks like it could be a nightmare inducing demon, unlike the 2007 version which looked like it was designed for a children’s cartoon. So, I guess, kudos to whoever was in charge of the visuals. You guys nailed it. I’m just sorry it was wasted on this flaming pile of ghost dump.

Despite the movie's terrible quality, Ghost Rider admittedly looked fantastic.

Alright. . . I’m done. That should suffice as a proper warning to everyone who reads this to never watch this movie. I wouldn’t say this is the worst movie I’ve ever seen (Just wait for my next review. . .), but it’s definitely in the bottom ten. I wouldn’t recommend this to anybody. Not even to people I hate. . . Like Mark Wahlberg, and he loves crappy movies. . . I’m assuming, since he is in a lot of them. If you haven’t figured it out by now, what I’m trying to get at is; DON’T WATCH THIS MOVIE! Not under any circumstances! If you need a rating to convince you, fine:

RATING: 1 out of 10

(It gets 1 because of how cool Ghost Rider looks)

But the rating doesn’t matter. What matters is that you never watch this. This movie is the film equivalent of the actual Ghost Rider; It will consume your soul and hand it over to the devil. You have been warned. As always thank you for reading, and please leave some comments. Let me know if you were one of the poor victims that actually saw this movie (Maybe we can do something about getting your soul back). Or let me know if you are a minion of the devil and managed to enjoy it. Either way, let me know your thoughts, and don’t forget to tell your friends!

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