Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is hovering around 15% on Rotten Tomatoes. It has the lowest composite score out of any movie in theaters last weekend. That being said, is it really so bad? This is the type of comic book movie that would have done alright a few years ago; if it had come out back in that time before The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and the other related films of the Marvel-verse. The frenetic film is a polarized reaction to the criticism of the first Ghost Rider and it attempts to correct all the things that people said they disliked. Unfortunately, in the current glut of comic book films, moviegoers are seeking a higher standard. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance fails to stand up against last year’s crop of superhero films, like the competent and well-made Captain America and Thor.
Nic Cage returned to star in this sequel that is not a sequel to the original Ghost Rider. Much like DC Comics is trying to do with Superman in the new Man of Steel, directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor skipped over another origin story in favor of putting the audience right into the action. This is something they do well. They are the ones responsible for the entertainingly bad Crank films. Their style is over-the-top and energetic, usually at the expense of a good story. The script was written by David Goyer (Blade series, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) along with two writers who have experience in television, but no movie credits. Goyer can be hit and miss, but the additional writers show that his original story was probably altered quite a bit. The story is more of an afterthought anyway, with the action sharing center stage with Nic Cage and his numerous Cage-isms.
Still, this movie is not terrible, despite what many, many other critics say. Neveldine/Taylor (as the directors are known) do a good job of making the action fast and interesting. The effects look better than the first film at half the budget. All of the supporting actors are competent, although none of them really rise above the occasion. That probably has to do with Nic Cage himself. At the center of the movie, and stealing every scene, Cage is at his bombastic best and worst. He really throws himself into the role, which is the special charm that keeps him coming back even when his movies suck. He plays it over-the-top and the directors obviously love him for it. Anybody who ever enjoyed seeing Nic Cage should at least enjoy his performance here.
In the end, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is not up the caliber of other major comic book movies. It shares this with Green Lantern another movie that just could not rise to the level of its competitors. However, while the Ryan Reynolds critical flop cost around 200 million dollars, the budget of Ghost Rider was only 57 million. It’s not a summer blockbuster, not a critical darling, and definitely not Nic Cage’s best work. However, if you like action, Ghost Rider, and Nic Cage then this movie is not a waste of time. Use your best judgement, but this one is probably worth waiting for DVD at least.