Second Opinion – Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, 2012.

Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.
Starring Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciarán Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Fergus Riordan and Christopher Lambert.


Former motorcycle stuntman-turned-Satan’s bounty hunter Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is approached by a religious sect and tasked with protecting a young boy (Fergus Riordan) from the Devil (Ciarán Hinds).

I must start this review by saying I’m a fan of the 2007 Ghost Rider. It was big budget, had great effects, was both dark and humorous, and saw Nicolas Cage take on the role he clearly loved. Sure, the story was hampered by a lack of a good villain and perhaps too much back story before the Rider is unleashed, but for a second-tier comic book movie, it hit the mark. And by second-tier, I refer to the film never hitting the heights of Superman: The Movie, Batman, The Dark Knight or X-2, but far superior to such disasters as Iron Man 2, Thor, Fantastic Four and Green Lantern.

The first movie took a healthy $45m on its opening weekend in the US and went on to a decent final tally of $228m worldwide, so a sequel was inevitable and for me, as huge Nic Cage fan, very welcome. However, five years have passed and Cage’s career has taken a nosedive in terms of quality, with only 2009’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans and Knowing worthy of his supreme acting talent and A-list status. Can a Ghost Rider follow up put him back up where he belongs?

The answer is… not really. The problems with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance are the same as the first film – no decent villain, a storyline that doesn’t grip, and no huge set-pieces to put the film in the audience’s memory after the credits have rolled. What the first film had, however, was a lot of fun and a solid (if workman like) direction and style. This latest film suffers terribly from the non-stop and incessant jumps, cuts and upside down camera movements that would make Michael Bay proud; why the directors feel the need to speed up 2 seconds of footage of a crowd of people walking or a car moving at 30mph, only to resume normal speed again is beyond me. It makes no sense in terms of the story, characters, or action. In other words it is ‘style’ for style’s sake and is not welcome, for it adds nothing to the experience and brings too much attention to itself – all the hallmarks of filmmakers who have no idea about what an audience wants to see. Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor were behind the utter trash that was Crank and Gamer – films which should never have been made and whose audience are not those who want to watch a Marvel adaptation. Sadly, the story is so pointless I forgot what was happening or why half way through, so not even a Steven Spielberg / Martin Scorsese combo could have saved it.

And as for the 3D… the definition of pointless. I’m not one to want things flying towards the screen for the sake of the 3D ‘experience’, but there was nothing in this film which warrants the 3D upgrade you’ll be forced to pay for. If you think the Ghost Rider’s chain is going to hit you in the face, think again.

The elements which are out of the directors’ hands are the ones which make the film work and are the saving graces. Firstly, the CGI is excellent and the new design of the Ghost Rider is an improvement on the first film, as he looks meaner and more menacing and his clothes are now also burnt which I thought was a nice visual touch. Also, we get to see Nic Cage as Johnny Blaze trying to contain the Rider from coming out, like Bruce Banner does before he turns into The Hulk; the effects show his eye sockets turning black and his skull breaking through his skin, which again is a nice visual change from the original. In turn, this also give Cage a chance to let loose his crazy side, which has been kept under wraps for too many films and this is what he does better than anyone else. Also, the lack of Eva Mendes means the film isn’t weighed down with romance, which is a major plus.

Ultimately, by the film’s end you wonder what the point was and if this was really the best use of the Ghost Rider character that they could have come up with. I highly doubt it.

Morbometer™: 4.5 OUT OF 10

Rohan Morbey – follow me on Twitter.

  • Taylor

    I think you are a fool the whole movie had a purpose and a villain. If you have ever read a ghost rider comic books you would see there have never been a set and stone villain. As far as style I think it was terrific it was different than the first movie but change is a good thing. You are just a critic that is not a Nick Cage fan neither a Ghost Rider fan, and if I say do so you are a close

  • Jad

    He's clearly a Nic Cage and Ghost Rider fan. Read the first sentence of the first two paragraphs.

  • Taylor

    No he pretends he is when he thinks Nick Cages career is going no where. That's like saying Tim Teboo career is going to the dumps. Nick Cage has played in many great movies that he didn't consider at all. The way he played Ghost Rider in spirit of vengeance showed that he can adapt to any character. If you can't handle a actor acting than I feel sorry for you because some of the best

  • Fiona

    I haven’t had the chance to watch the new Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance yet, but I am a huge fan of Nicolas Cage and I enjoyed his performance in the first Ghost Rider. I really didn’t know much about the Ghost Rider comic book character until I found “Super Hero Origins: Ghost Rider” on I also found some other video clips of interviews with Cage that one of my co-workers at

  • Rohan Michael Morbey

    Hi Taylor – thanks for your responses on my review. Let me address your points:<br /><br />1. Nic (no &#39;k&#39;) Cage has indeed starred in many great films and given many great performances but I&#39;m referring to his roles of late – his last 6 films have all been substandard and not one of them had compare to his late 90&#39;s/ early 2000s ouitput. BL:POCNO was his last terrific performance