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‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’ spotty at times, but better than the original

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I must admit, hopes for a solid sequel to 2007’s Ghost Rider  were not exactly high. In fact, the first one was so underwhelming that I was surprised a second film, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, was even green lit.
Ghost Rider photo: g4tv.com
However, money makes the world go round, and the original grossed enough worldwide to merit a second go round. 

The film begins with Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) finding exile in Eastern Europe seeking to avoid the devil's evil clutches when he is sought out by Moreau (Idris Elba), a priest-like figure. Moreau informs Blaze that a young boy named Danny (Fergus Riordan) is being sought by the Devil/Roarke (Ciaran Hinds) and needs to be protected. In exchange for helping Danny, Moreau offers to rid Blaze of his curse once and for all.

After some persuasion, Blaze agrees. Ghost Rider rescues Danny and Moreau holds up his end of the deal. However, Danny is then kidnapped by Carrigan (Danny’s mother’s ex-boyfriend played by Johnny Whitworth), who is resurrected by Roarke and transformed into Blackout. Although free of his curse, Blaze is determined to free Danny from Roake and Blackout once and for all, even if it means having to do so without the use of his powers as Ghost Rider.

The plot to Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is a little choppy and the 3D aspect of the movie is uneventful. Much like the first film however, the visual effects in the action scenes are strong. Like its predecessor, both Ghost Rider movies turn to campy humor to offset the film’s intense satanic overtones. This is mostly the work of Cage, who doesn’t quite portray Blaze as the street fighting, hard boozing, motorcycle riding adventurer from the comic book. To be honest, his demeanor in the sequel even contrasts sharply from the first film as well. Sometimes it works, while other times it misses the boat and comes off as uneven.

Meanwhile Elba, who can always be counted on for his consistency, is strong in the supporting role of Moreau. Violante Placido, who takes over the token female role vacated by Eva Mendes, does an admirable job in the role of Danny’s mother. And finally, Christopher Lambert (Highlander) has a brief but notable role as Methodius, who allows Danny to fall into the wrong hands. As far as the title character is concerned, Ghost Rider, while still possessing sinister attributes, is depicted more as a superhero than demonic vigilante, appearing as more heroic, and at times even displaying somewhat of a personality.

It’s not that much of an improvement, but ‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’ gets the nod over the original, and it's entertaining enough to keep a comic book buff like myself interested for an hour and a half.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Photo: g4tv.com