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Ghost Rider: Spirit of Crank

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Crank

Full disclosure: my real review of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance can be found here.  This review is based entirely on my hopes and expectations for the movie before I had seen it, prompted by a healthy respect for the Crank franchise.  

Ghost Rider two, the follow-up to 2007’s critical failure Ghost Rider one, is a fantastic action movie.  Simply put, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (henceforth GR2) is the only possible contender for an Academy Award this year.  In what category should GR2 receive a golden statue? ALL OF THEM.  Best picture? Without a doubt!  Foreign language animated short form documentary?  Of course!  Lifetime achievement awards will go to Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor, and Nicholas Cage.

What epochal feat of cinema have the cast and crew of GR2 managed to conjure?  In terms of plot, Spirit of Vengeance sticks with the basic concept of the 2007 film, but expands the drama through the artful incorporation of key elements from the Ghost Rider comic book mythology.  SPOILER ALERT!  The movie focuses on Johnny Blaze (Cage) who has gone off the grid following his run-in with Peter Fonda (Satan) in the first movie.  Blaze consults with wise men from around the globe, seeking to rid himself of the curse that is Ghost Rider.  To recap, when Blaze encounters those who have spilled innocent blood, the Ghost Rider demon emerges and metes out vengeance.  Being Ghost Rider involves a major time commitment, and eliminates the ability of Blaze to live a normal life (as a jelly bean-addicted carnie).

The curse cost Johnny a chance to be happy with his boyhood sweetheart, Eva Mendes.  The end of GR1 involved Blaze leaving his love behind in order to protect her from the chaos that follows the Ghost Rider.  In order to get another chance to see Eva’s Mendeses, Blaze must separate the Ghost Rider entity from his soul.  Sadly, during the first act of GR2, Blaze is derailed in his quest by an airtight Shakespearian drama involving demon kidnapping and an anti-Christ birth.  The remainder of the movie consists of Ghost Rider burning demons using fire, burning humans with fire, urinating fire onto shrubs, burning his own skull with fire, and chatting with the kidnapped anti-Christ.

Every performance in GR2 is pitch perfect, but several standouts should be noted.  The first is Nicholas Cage, who has been on a hot streak ever since Raising Arizona (his finest work).  Cage has perfected a unique style of explosive manic-depressive acting, and is a National Treasure; many aspiring actors should take a page from Cage’s Book of Secrets.  Aside from Cage, relative newcomer Idris Elba makes a strong showing as a character who takes dramatic action within the course of the plot.  I don’t claim to be an expert on Elba, or even to know his or her general characteristics and filmography, but he/she serves as a perfect foil for Cage’s over the top performance as Johnny Blaze.  Making fantastic use of Cage, Elba, and the remainder of the cast, is the directorial tag team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.  Neveldine/Taylor were the force behind the Crank franchise, putting the duo near the front of today’s elite directors.  Despite hitting a rough spot with the box office poison that was Gamer, and penning a painfully bad script for Jonah Hex, the directors have hit another Crank-level home run with Spirit of Vengeance.  Action scenes are staged with immense drama, and the camera angles employed during the fast-paced fights are inspired works of absolute brilliance.  Pure genius is on display within every frame of GR2; Neveldine/Taylor are like Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, and Jimi Hendrix blended into an action-packed, brain meat cereal.  Watch Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and sample a small bite.  It tastes awesome, so enjoy your breakfast.

3 Comments

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  1. Pete says
    2012/02/21, 18:33

    I never thought I’d miss the jelly beans. That was an important character in Ghost Rider 1, not unlike the monkey in Cutthroat Island.

  2. Jim says
    2012/02/22, 15:56

    I have not seen either Ghost Rider film, but I appreciate this review. I have seen the GR2 trailer, however, and I’d like to share that I really like the way Ghost Rider’s motorcycle looks as it tears down the highway billowing thick smoke and fire. PROBABLY because that’s how I always figured Space Truck would end up.

    • Pete says
      2012/02/22, 23:33

      The motorcycle was pretty awesome and Ghost Rider looked fantastic. Much improved CG over the first movie. The main problem this movie faced was that it seemed like it’s funding came from overseas and therefore was made for an Eastern European/World audience. That’s fine if your Steven Seagal in your twilight years. Ghost Rider seemed very out of place in Europe though. If he fought Highlander I might have accepted this.

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