Unlike that would-be militarist cine-dictator General Consensus, I quite enjoyed Marvel’s first crack at making a live-action version of their Ghost Rider franchise. Sure, Ghost Rider (US-2007; dir. Mark Steven Johnson) wasn’t a huge artistic success, but the Ghost Rider FX bits looked great and the plot was okay, if a little stereotypical. The main problem was the somewhat undramatic depiction of Johnny Blaze’s life and spiritual dilemmas, despite the base material having heaps of dramatically powerful potential — a blandness that was exacerbated by Nicholas Cage’s strangely flat performance. Given the fact that Mr Cage apparently went after the role with unusual determination, it’s hard to understand why he mostly seems to be AWOL even while going through the Satanic motions.
Ghost Rider is one of my favourite Marvel characters — and if you’re not familiar with him in GN form and hence can’t see what there is to like, go check out Mark Millar’s Ultimate Avengers: Crime and Punishment, which not only has the Rider at his ambiguous best but also includes that other classic good-guy/bad guy schizophrenic, Frank Castle aka The Punisher. Click on the image below (which heralds the Ghost Rider’s entry into Nick Fury’s purview) to get the full effect.
Anyway, whatever mine, your and the critics’ opinion of the first Ghost Rider film, the Powers That Be have thankfully allowed another team to take a go at cracking the flaming-chain whip, in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (US-2012; dir. Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor).
Nicholas Cage is still the lead but from the look of the latest trailer (check below) everyone involved, from screenwriter up, might have made an effort to get the spirit of the project closer to what it should have been in the first one. Of course, it helps that this time around the film isn’t one of those tediously inevitable superhero origin tales…
And I can ignore the 3D version, as always. Thanks.
- Written by Robert Hood