Some characters work only in a certain medium while others have no problem existing in various media. Marvel has enough characters that have made a successful transition from print to film over the last 15 years, some more successful than others but ever since they started producing their own movies a lot of characters have gotten a good on screen treatment, like Captain America for instance who’s abysmal 1992 movie just proves how bad things can go in the wrong hands. The original Ghost Rider movie, which is 5 years old already, was not a great movie but having watched the sequel I can only conclude that the character of Ghost Rider might work on paper but not on celluloid.
To create a compelling movie, you need to have a compelling lead and the problem is that Ghost Rider isn’t really all that compelling. He sure looks cool on paper with the leather, the flaming skull and the motorcycle, and the makers have done a good job in making him look as cool on screen, but they also made him a man of few words; a character whose motivations are unknown to us other than the vague descriptions Nicolas Cage gives us. At least in the comics he’s able to talk, reason and work together with heroes like Spider-man, in the movies he’s nothing more than a leather version of the Hulk. Ghost Rider is just another take on Jekyll & Hyde, but even in his human form the character is shallow and never given any real depth.
Nicolas Cage is an actor who can elevate a simple underwritten role with his out there way of acting. But he fails here by making the character as flat as possible. At certain points his overacting becomes a pain to watch. Two moments really stand out: one where he’s interrogating a thug outside of a nightclub, another when he’s on his motorcycle and partially transforms while the camera is mounted on the front of the cycle. Both scenes are ruined by Cage’s acting, while the latter also has some really bad CGI.
Directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor showed promise with two Crank movies, though their movie Gamer already saw a decline in quality. Their style has a really cheap feel about it. That might suit a Jason Statham movie, but not a big summer superhero-movie blockbuster. And if their American based movies feel cheap, than setting your movie in Eastern Europe doesn’t help. Bulgaria, Romania and such countries are where Steven Seagal and Jean Claude van Damme shoot their cheap DTV movies.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is simply put the movie that should have redeemed the original movie, but ends up putting the nails in the coffin for this franchise. Marvel should obtain the rights to make their own movie for this character. Reboot it with another actor in the lead, have the character of Ghost Rider being more than just a simple another unstoppable Hulk rip-off, the you might have yourself a winner. Or maybe just stick to a printed version. Like Eddie, the character on the covers of Iron Maiden CDs, Ghost Rider should probably just be a “poster boy”.