Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011): More Reboot Than Sequel Means FUN! [Joey’s Review]
The last time we had a sequel in #CageClub, it was little more than a retread with a slightly expanded global reach. This time around, the differences between original and sequel couldn’t be more pronounced, and it’s entirely for the better.
The original GHOST RIDER was a traditional superhero film I enjoyed (though Mike and Melissa didn’t care for) because it told an origin story I wasn’t familiar with. Even though it was predictable at times, the action and special effects were exciting enough to keep me engaged and entertained.
For the sequel, GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE, nearly everything from the first film has been thrown in the trash. The only returning actor is Nicolas Cage, and the only notable person behind the scenes is David S. Goyer, who served as an EP on the first film and shares a writing credit for the sequel. Not only that, but the film does a tremendous job of revisionist history, essentially telling the audience, “You know everything you saw in that first movie? Forget it. Here’s our origin story.”
It’s a ballsy move that works through and through because it conveys a story that makes more sense in only a fraction of the time. This Ghost Rider (and Johnny Blaze) is darker and more willing to make a deal with the devil. He’s completely mastered his abilities, and isn’t someone you wanna mess with. But he’s also tired of being the Ghost Rider, and he wants out. We’re four years after he refused the devil’s offer to remove his curse, so maybe life is weighing heavily on him. He’s angry.
The story in this film isn’t great, and may not make sense if you look too deeply at it. Most of it revolves around moving a kid from group to group to keep him out of the devil’s hands, because this kid is the devil’s son and he could bring Hell to Earth (not nearly as terrifying as Operation Hell on Earth, though). Idris Elba — who for some reason has no powers when he should be loaded with them — tells Cage he’ll remove his curse if he helps him out. He does, the curse is removed, then things go bad.
What’s terrific about this movie is the frenetic action and intensity that directors Neveldine and Taylor bring to the film. It’s not on the same level as the CRANK films — then again, what movies are? — but it’s close enough in providing that level of excitement that you can overlook gaps in logic or gaps in the story. This movie is exciting and fun and over-the-top in exactly the right ways that a movie about Ghost Rider should be, and it makes me wish Neveldine and Taylor made the first movie, too.
Make sure you see this movie. You don’t have to watch the first to enjoy this; in fact, you may enjoy it more without having seen the first. It’s less of a sequel than a reboot, and it’s so good and fun that it makes me wish we got more of these movies. There are no more, though, and I don’t think we’ll get any more any time soon. That’s okay, though, because this one is wonderful.
How can I watch it? You’ll have to pay to see this, but it’s worth it. You love fun, right?
What’s up next? It’s time for another almost-straight-to-DVD film: STOLEN!