The Ghost Rider films are mostly dismissed by everyone and seen as not very good; it’s been a few years since I last watched either of them and I love Nicolas Cage, so I thought I would revisit them. Let’s ride!
Ghost Rider (2007)
Plot: Years ago, motorcycle stuntman Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) sold his soul to save the life of a loved one. Now, he transforms into a fiery, avenging agent of justice at night wherever evil roams. As the only one who can walk in both worlds, Johnny is charged by Mephistopheles (Donal Logue) himself to destroy Blackheart (Wes Bentley), a demon that wants to overthrow Mephistopheles and create a worse hell than the one that currently exists.
I always had a fun time with this movie; Nicolas Cage is at his flamboyant best as Johnny Blaze, a motorcycle riding stunt driver who makes a deal with the Devil to save his father’s life. What the Devil failed to tell Johnny is that he will have to become The Rider, a demon with a flaming skull head who punishes the guilty with his penance stare.
The tone is generally pretty light for both films and Cage himself has said he likes to see the absurdity in everything which he clearly relishes here. There are little character traits that are just pure Cage like the fact he doesn’t drink alcohol, so he fills a martini glass with candy instead.
I think the Rider himself looks better in the sequel as the CG isn’t amazing here but it’s not appalling either and it’s such an out there concept that you just have to go along for the ride.
The music score is as epic as you’d expect with huge choirs and even some electric guitar too and it’s one of the more underappreciated superhero movie music scores.
It’s against my religion to dislike any movie with Sam Elliott as he just makes everything better; here he plays the Caretaker who is a Rider from years before protecting 1000 souls from the Devil. I love the scene where he and Johnny race each other to Ghost Riders in the Sky by Spiderbait.
There are few people more attractive than Eva Mendes in this movie who plays Johnny’s love interest Roxanne and she’s just an appealing character too. Wes Bentley is more campy than creepy as the villain Blackheart and it always makes me laugh when either he or Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda) regularly say “mmmm” as it reminds me of the creepy old man in Family Guy.
In terms of action we get some awesome motorcycle moments including riding up the side of a building and lots of things blow up too. It could maybe do with more fights but the sequel makes up for that.
Overall, Ghost Rider is incredibly silly stuff but I can’t help but enjoy Nic Cage doing what he does best and the Rider himself is undeniably cool. It’s hardly an amazing movie but I do enjoy it for some harmless laughs.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)
Plot: Johnny Blaze, tortured by the Ghost Rider’s curse, gets a chance of redemption through protecting the Devil’s son, whose father is pursuing him.
Directed by Neveldine/Taylor (Crank) Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance looks and feels very different from the first movie going for a more gritty approach. It arguably has even more gonzo moments of humour with the Rider at one point pissing fire and then of course Cage’s amazing “Scraping at the Door” freak-out which is just bizarre.
This time Blaze (Cage) is in Europe and decides to help a young boy (who happens to be the Devil’s son) and his mother escape the clutches of the Devil or Roarke (Ciarán Hinds) as he’s called here. Roarke wants to transfer his essence into a young body as his current vessel is failing, so it’s up to Johnny to stop him. This time he’s not alone with Idris Elba’s Moreau volunteering to help as he sees the boy is special and needs to be protected from his father.
Spirit of Vengeance has an impressive supporting cast including Christopher Lambert in an all-too small role, Anthony Head from Buffy and Johnny Whitworth as the main henchman Ray Carrigan.
This has more action than the first film with some cool shoot-outs and fights with a highlight being the Rider using a flaming crane on the bad guys. It has the same energy as the Crank films where everything feels more hyper and for the most part it works. Like I said above, I think the Rider looks far cooler this time around with better CG and the effects in general in this movie still look good.
The music score once again features some guitars and choirs but isn’t quite as memorable as the first.
Overall, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance has some amazing Crazy Cage moments and just has a chaotic vibe from beginning to end and yet strangely I don’t find it all that involving, so as a story I think I prefer the first film. Both movies are hardly classic action cinema but I do enjoy them for the camp silliness that they are. They don’t take themselves seriously, so neither should the audience.