Our good friend Ronnie Malik of is sharing her review of GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE with us.  Despite hosting the Dallas screening, I wasn’t allowed to actually see the film as no reviewing press were permitted by the studio to stay.  Sometimes that happens, though not often.  I should note that Ronnie has a strong connection with, as she was married to the late Steve Friedel, one of our regular (and favorite) writers.  I’m very happy to see her carry on the tradition of reviewing movies, something Steve loved so much, and was quite good at.  Hopefully this will be the first of many reviews you’ll see by Ronnie on the site.

Directors: Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Vilante Placido, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Ciaran Hinds, Fergus Riordan

Rating: C

In the first Ghost Rider, Nicolas Cage brought to life the character of Johnny Blaze, a grieving son that made a pact with the devil to save his ailing father. The deal with the devil transforms Johnny into “Ghost Rider”, a flame throwing demon instructed by Satan to collect souls of the unworthy, unscrupulous and evil people that face damnation. Will the sequel to Ghost Rider put the bounty hunter back into his blazing saddle to ride of into super hero glory just like other glorious Marvel Comic book stars brought to life on the big screen?

In Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Johnny longs to be normal again and wants only to be relieved of the burden of housing a demon inside his middle age body. He is approached by Moreau (Idris Elba), a wine drinking monk with odd green eyes that don’t quite match his over all look, who tells him that a child named Danny (Fergus Riordum) needs to be saved from the clutches of Roarke (Ciaran Hinds) – aka The Devil, who is growing weak in the body he inhabits on earth. Roarke wants to posses the boy to build his strength so that he can continue to wield his power and dominion over mankind.

Roarke recruits Ray Carringan (Johnny Whitworth), a cutthroat arms dealer that has a bone to pick with Danny’s mother, Nadya (Violante Placido). Ray’s mission is to kidnap the child and deliver him to Roarke. Once Danny is in Roarke’s possession, a satanic ritual will be performed allowing Roarke to take over Danny’s body. Turns out Roarke also made a deal with Nadya when she was dying – her life in exchange for being the Mamma of a boy that could turn into the anti-Christ. It is the connection between father and son that will seal the bond making Roarke more powerful than ever.

Ciaran Hinds plays the part of a dark spirit with zest and his over all prescience in the film will give you the creeps especially at thought of him actually fathering a child. Johnny Whitworth steps up to the plate as a shady and immoral criminal that will provide his services to the highest bidder. Idris Elba is strong as the monk out to save a child and prevent The Devil from rising to power. Sadly, Violante Placido is giving very little to work with resulting in no character development for her role in the film. Nicolas Cage’s twitches, convulses, and goes crazy and wild-eyed as he transforms back and forth from human to demon. It won’t be possible to take Cages over acting seriously since the transformation of Johnny to Ghost Rider looks so ridiculous. Scenes of the motorcycle-riding demon trying to come forth look a lot like a bugged eyed Cage high on drugs.

There are plenty of chase scenes, fist fights, and 3D special effects in the sequel to Ghost Rider that will provide some short-lived entertainment. There is no chemistry between any of the main characters when they are on screen together. Most of the movie is incoherent, disconnected, and basically makes no sense. The dialogue is corny and thrown together making this an extremely weak film. There are several scenes of fire being shot out at various angles, but the special effects don’t quite capture the feeling of something coming out of the screen, making 3D effects extremely sluggish. There is nothing to hold the fluttering plot together so less than halfway through the story, the film losses momentum.

The story of a demon bounty hunter traveling the world on his fiery motorcycle with its blazing saddle fails to reach anywhere, and only manages to start and stop like a car choking from being out of gas… until the flame just fizzles out.

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