I had high hopes for the Ghostrider film series. I’ve liked a number of Nicholas Cage’s more recent films including “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and the “National Treasure” movies. I also enjoyed Nicholas Cage in “The Rock” years ago.
Then I saw the first Ghostrider movie. I was all excited to see it. I mean, demons, hell, avenging spirits… who wouldn’t be? Now, several years later, I don’t remember much from that first movie, except that it was a complete let down. And the worst part is, it didn’t have to be. Everything was there to make a good movie: a cool looking character, sinister forces, what-have-you. They just didn’t follow through particularly well. They seemed to think a cool looking character was all you needed. And everything else about the movie would fall into place. Well, it didn’t and the movie was lame.
Well, despite all that, I still saw potential for the next installment in the series. I was hoping Ghostrider II: Spirit of Vengeance would be the movie Ghostrider I failed to be. And once again, I was let down. In the movie, Nicholas Cage plays Johnny Blaze, a former motorcycle stunt man who suffers from a terrible curse. In the presence of evil, he turns into an avenging demon from hell that looks like a skeleton wreathed in flames wielding deadly lengths of chain and riding a flaming motorcycle. He looks cool. He really does. But that’s it. A vengeful spirit must do more than look cool, in my opinion.
The plot of the movie was formulaic at best. There were the good guys and bad guys. The bad guys were searching for a certain child to fulfill a certain prophecy of doom. The Ghostrider is called in to protect the child. And so the story goes. The Ghostrider makes several appearances throughout the film, and whenever he does, destruction galore follows in his wake. And whenever he wastes a particularly bad nasty, we are treated with a “clever” one-liner whispered in a sepulchral demonic voice. But that hardly makes the film anything but a smash-‘em-up that is trying too hard.
A smash-‘em-up film can work. Like the “Hulk” with Ed Norton a few years back. It was great fun watching Dr. Banner hulk out and smash stuff. It had a plot and was fun to watch. The special effects were there, but they didn’t rely on them to make the story. Ghostrider II, however, is just all about flames and whipping chains. I noticed one really clever idea in the movie, and that was about it. I saw the film in 3-D, but looking back, I don’t even remember any particularly cool 3-D effects that I would be sorry to miss, so it even failed in that department as well.
I’ll give this movie two stars out of five. And I think I’m being generous.