There’s no doubting that Nicolas Cage really is bat-shit crazy. Seriously, the guy was arrested in 2011 for public intoxication, stares at reptiles for fun and prepared for his latest film by dressing up like an “Afro-New Orleanian” voodoo icon. Yeah, there aren’t many marbles rolling around up there; but still, we can’t overlook the fact that somehow, this man has an Oscar.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

At Quality 16 and Rave
Columbia


Cage can act. And that surprising truth has further befuddled the confused people who find themselves watching the dreck he’s been in during the past few years. “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,” is no exception to this trend. It’s an overblown superhero adaptation with a few gothic touches brushed on to add a half-assed semblance of “uniqueness.” Needless to say, the gimmick doesn’t work.

The script picks up eight years after the conclusion of the first “Ghost Rider” and follows Johnny Blaze, played by Cage, as he struggles to deal with the satanic curse that gives him his superpowers. After the events of the previous film, Blaze is in hiding somewhere within Eastern Europe, until he’s approached by a French monk (Idris Elba, “Thor”).

After subjecting us to a few of the patently shitty one-liners this film is drowning in, Elba’s character tasks Blaze with finding and protecting a young child that the Devil (Ciarán Hinds, “The Woman in Black”) is trying to turn into the Antichrist. If the Ghost Rider is able to return the child in safe condition, his curse will be lifted. Also along for the ride is Nadya (Violante Placido, “The American”), the kid’s mother: “the Devil’s baby mama,” in Cage’s eloquent wording.

Neveldine/Taylor (“Crank”), the directorial team behind this waste of a movie ticket, is known for an uncanny ability to create glossy CGI on a budget. And that’s likely the only reason they were hired. To be fair, some of the action sequences in this film really are worth watching. The large-scale fight scenes between the Ghost Rider and the Devil’s minions are fun to watch and probably couldn’t have been recreated in all their glory by another team of directors.

Sadly, that’s only going to be enough for the audience members who care about nothing other than how cool the action is. But in the average movie-goer’s mind, when there’s absolutely no weight behind any of the characters and the script feels unnecessarily beaten down and forced, it’s difficult to remain engaged, regardless of the action.

Needless to say, the silly script doesn’t help the performances, none of which are noteworthy, except for how bad they are. Cage, with his typically overblown take on character analysis, finds a way to make us chuckle every now and then — but it’s always clear that we’re laughing at him, not with him.

When all’s said and done, “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,” ends up falling in line with the other horrible superhero adaptations that have come out this year. The script falls prey to overused mechanics and a whole lot of money is wasted trying to make up for it through intricately composed action sequences. Cage, with all his financial issues, has reason enough to take part in the nonsense. To the rest of the people involved — what the hell were you thinking?

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