Please Don't See This! Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Over the weekend, I took a trip to the local multiplex to see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance with a few friends. In looking at the box office numbers, we weren't alone: the new Nicolas Cage vehicle finished third in a tight weekend race, raking in over $22 million (a little over a million dollars short of the top spot).

Unfortunately, that's about $22 million more than the movie deserved to make.

It is, without a doubt, the worst movie of Nic Cage's career. I know that's a loaded statement, especially with his last decade's filmography staring right at me, but I think it's true. In the sea of crap that has sprung from Cage's tax woes, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance finally strikes rock bottom.

You may be sitting at your computer, overtaken with anger, shouting about how you sat through 90 minutes of Trespass and surely nothing could be worse. What about Deadfall, or Knowing, or Bangkok Dangerous?

And you know, you may be right. In his attempts to beat bankruptcy and overcome his tax problems/castle obsession, Cage has appeared in roughly 1000 movies over the last ten years, with his output only being topped by porn stars and Ryan Reynolds. In that time, he's built up a bit of a reputation. Tragically, it's not a good one.

While good Nic Cage movies have become increasingly rare, entertaining ones are still as abundant as ever. Even Trespass, which was in theaters for ten days (and then released on DVD a whopping eight days after being pulled) had a few unintentionally hilarious moments.

See, he barely has to try!

This is all due to Cage, whose acting style is so unique, over-the-top and yet completely serious that it?s difficult to look away. It's like a train wreck, if the train were screaming about thousand year-old dolls or an empty diamond safe.

Cage's sheer ridiculousness makes his movies watchable (and rewatchable), and his pairing with Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor made GR2 legitimately promising. Neveldine and Taylor, the duo behind the Crank series, specialize in the kind of "WTF am I watching?" cinema that's seemingly built for Cage.[1]

Instead, GR2 almost castrates Slick Nic, giving him maybe two memorable lines, and replacing his face with CGI during every action sequence. So instead of getting a bad movie with 110% Crazy-Ass Cage, we get a bad movie with 12% Cage. It just doesn't add up.

It's bad when the best acting you do is in the press junket, telling people the movie is actually good.

There's simply no fun to be had with GR2. The ambitious (if bizarre) style of the Crank series is gone, replaced by a generic, mediocre action film that'll put you to sleep before it puts you on the edge of your seat. Yawns are more frequent than gasps, even during the most action-packed scenes.

Audiences expecting to see a classic Cage freak-out (AKA all audiences) will be sorely disappointed. Instead, they'll sit there, like me, waiting for something to happen. NOTHING HAPPENS. That's the problem when your directors aren't particularly concerned with story, and your lead actor is replaced by computers during all the potentially (keyword) interesting scenes.

What's left is a complete waste of time. Unless you saw the first Ghost Rider and absolutely HAVE to see what happens next, skip it. If you're a die-hard Cage fan like me, just put in your Face/Off Blu-ray and try not to cry as you think of what could've been.

[1] Seriously, those movies are completely ridiculous. NO attempts at cohesive storytelling or real character development. Just balls to the walls action the entire time. Easily one of the most bizarre film series ever.

-Matthew Ludtke


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