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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, July 31, 2014

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Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Opens Feb. 17, 2012. Run time: 1 hr. 35 min.

for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, and language

In the successor to the worldwide hit "Ghost Rider", Johnny still struggling with his curse as the devil's bounty hunter is hiding out in a remote part of Eastern Europe when he is recruited by a secret sect of the church to save a young boy from the devil. At first, Johnny is reluctant to embrace the power of the Ghost Rider, but it is the only way to protect the boy and possibly rid himself of the curse forever.




OnMilwaukee.com rating:

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Idris Elba, Ciaran Hinds, Christopher Lambert, Violante Placido
Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Written by: Scott M. Grimple, Seth Hoffman, David S. Goyer
Producer: Steven Paul, Ashok Amritraj, Michael De Luca, Avi Arad
Genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy


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Critic review:

Actor Nicolas Cage has a lot in common with his superhero counterpart Ghost Rider, featured once again on the big screen in the pseudo-sequel Spirit of Vengeance. Much like the daemon-infested crime fighter, Cage has the power to make anything he touches explode into a wild, blazing inferno, thanks to his unique performance techniques. Cage does not simply deliver a line, he detonates it; He does not simply react to his co-stars, he executes an interpretive dance; He does not simply throw a punch, he unleashes physical armageddon. Occasionally, the style provokes unintentional laugher, but in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, anything less would be unrealistic. The new adventure finds Ghost Rider aka Johnny Blaze, a former stunt man cursed after begging the Devil to save his father's life, hiding out in Eastern Europe where he believes his soul-sucking alter-ego can remain silent.

But Blaze's TLC session is cut short when Moreau (Idris Elba), an Algerian priest with connections to the Devil's latest diabolical plan, arrives. Seems Satan, who walks the Earth under the alias Roarke, is hellbent on inhabiting Danny, the young son of Nadya, who made her own deal with the Prince of Darkness. If he succeeds, Roarke will continue existing in the world of man—so, of course, it's up to Ghost Rider to put the kibosh on the end-of-the-world scenario. If you didn't see the first Ghost Rider movie, don't fret; the sequel isn't confined by any established mythology, nor is it that concerned with the logic of its own story. Directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor employ a manic eye for action displayed in earlier films like Crank and Gamer, shooting motorcycle chases, shootouts and flaming skull transformations with adrenaline-infused camerawork that should leave anyone susceptible to motion sickness running to the bathroom.

The 3-D transfer of the movie is a non-factor, the post-convereted stereoscopic effects rarely intrude on the zippy camerawork. Unlike the Crank films, Ghost Rider contends with its script, dragging when the movie tries to explain what the heck is going on and only picking up when the directing duo and Nic Cage are allowed to play. A host of solid supporting actors breath traces of life into half-baked villain and characters—Ciaran Hinds stands out as Roarke, playing him like a forgotten Dick Tracy baddie—but at the end of the day, Spirit of Vengeance is all Cage's show. With the fire of hell burning inside, Blaze is in a constant fight against himself and Cage embodies the monstrous struggle with cockeyed rage and growling vocals. Neveldine and Taylor make the most of their larger-than-life lead, and Cage spends most of the film teetering on the edge ballistic fury.

That's not to say the movie doesn't take its quiet moments–a scene between Cage and Elba where Blaze begs Moreau to remove the Ghost Rider curse is surprisingly dramatic—but the movie has goals: to rattle you at 100 miles per hour. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance isn't as fun, flashy or poignant as some of its recent comic book contemporaries, but for 90 minutes, Neveldine and Taylor revel in the ridiculous, wringing their character and lead actor for every ounce of mayhem. This is a greasy, gritty, grunge Ghost Rider, purposefully disgusting and low-fi. While a stronger emphasis on story would only help the spotty action flick, Spirit of Vengeance proves a decent alternative to the faithful boyscouts and friendly neighborhoood superheroes that fill our big screen blockbusters. Ghost Rider belches magma, pisses fire and plays nasty—you probably already know if this movie is for you.

Hollywood.com rated this film 3 stars.-Matt Patches.

Trailer not available.


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