My outright loathing of the first Ghost Rider movie is well noted, on both the interwebs and in spoken word. I think it's best at this point to just say that and move on. No need to open that can of worms again, I hated absolutely everything about it. With that in mind, I made my very best attempt to go into Spirit of Vengeance with as open of a mind as possible, because despite the fact that Nicolas Cage is still Johnny Blaze and I knew I was going to hate his performance (if you can actually call what he does in anything a "performance"), I genuinely like the Ghost Rider character and I think he could be transitioned from comics to big screen successfully. Maybe, just maybe this new writer/director duo got it right? I hope? Maybe?
Confession, and this should come as no surprise, I only saw Ghost Rider once, so if there was any plot outside of telling some rednecked-up white trash version the Rider's origin, I don't really remember it. This time around, the plot centers on a young boy named Daniel who is being chased with his mother by the minions of the Devil. Turns out Daniel was born of a deal that his mother had made, and being the son of the Devil brings with it certain obligations. Ghost Rider must do everything he can to ensure the safety of the boy to stop the coming of the Anti-Christ before he can destroy Earth.
Little bit better on the plot this time, I have to give it that. Also, just as the first movie, when the Rider is on screen, he looks badass. Unfortunately, that's as far as my praise goes. Nicolas Cage makes the unexplained change from "white trash, cartoon loving, jellybean chomping redneck Elvis impersonator" Johnny Blaze to the all-new and slightly improved "Completely batshit fucking crazy" Johnny Blaze. Neither of these is even close to being an accurate portrayal of the character, and just as expected Cage does everything in his power to ruin this movie for me. Again, as with the first movie, the villains are boring and while they do their best I never got the feeling for a second that any one of them could be a real threat to the Rider. Turns out Euro-trash with guided missiles aren't much of a threat to the Spirit of Vengeance and his chains. The Devil is even a pussy in this movie.
The effects are the real star of this movie, particularly on Ghost Rider himself. They've really nailed the look of the character (unfortunately his personality, and persona however are still laughably off). Sadly, we hardly ever really get any good Ghost Rider action sequences, and when we do they're too short. I think I counted three times when he was actually on screen and doing something. You know when you see a trailer and get that feeling that you've seen all the good stuff? Yeah, that's absolutely true with Spirit of Vengeance. It even goes so far as to show you the ENDING in the trailer. That part in the trailer where you see him throw a guy way up in the air with his chain before slamming him back down? That's the Devil, and the "big showdown" at the end there.
All things considered, I can't honestly say this was in any way worse than the first Ghost Rider flick, unfortunately I can't say I enjoyed it much better either. I can't help but feel like there's potential for a great Ghost Rider movie somewhere out there, but it's going to take a complete revamp of the franchise at this point. It's almost like Marvel has skipped the first two Burton's and gone straight to the Schumaker's. In any event, it's going to take a Christopher Nolan-level turn around before I'll consider shelling out money for another one of these atrocities.