[Screen It]


(2012) (Nicolas Cage, Idris Elba) (PG-13)

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Action: A cursed motorcycle rider attempts to regain his humanity by saving the Devil's son from being possessed by his father.
Johnny Blaze (NICOLAS CAGE) has gone into seclusion in Eastern Europe to try and keep his demonic alter ego, the Ghost Rider, in check. He made a deal with Roarke (CIARAN HINDS), the Devil incarnate, years earlier to save his dying father's life and has become a hunter of wicked souls ever since. He wants the curse lifted. He's about to get his chance.

Twelve years earlier, a gypsy named Nadya (VIOLANTE PLACIDO) also made a deal with Roarke to spare her life in return for carrying his son. That boy, Danny (FERGUS RIORDAN), is now about to reach 13 and Roarke wants out of his aging, failing body and into the body of the boy. She goes on the run and seeks the protection of church zealots who are helpless in protecting them from the forces of darkness.

Pursued by a former boyfriend/mercenary named Carrigan (JOHNNY WHITWORTH) and his small army of gun-toting henchmen, Nadya eventually hooks up with holy man Moreau (IDRIS ELBA) who knows that their only chance is to enlist the aid of Ghost Rider. Moreau promises to lift the Rider's curse if he will help. But Roarke has given Carrigan dark powers to combat the Rider, and a final confrontation for the fate of the world is inevitable.

OUR TAKE: 4.5 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits.

Do you know what words you never hear anymore? "Democrats and Republicans reach a compromise?" No. "Prices at the pump fall under $3 a gallon." Nah! How about "Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage?" Oh yeah. When you get to a certain age, it seems like certain years weren't that long ago. I mean, how could it be 10 years since we were awaiting the SECOND "Lord of the Rings" movie? How could it be 20 years since Michael Keaton last donned the cowl of Batman? How could it be 30 years since E.T. phoned home? They don't seem all that long ago. However, it seems like a long, LONG time ago since that evening in early 1996 when Nic Cage walked across the stage to receive his Oscar for Best Actor.

"Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" continues Cage's oddball career nosedive into self parody that is, on some level, fun to watch because he's having so much fun giving in to his worst tendencies, oddest tics, and silliest impulses. Here, he returns as Johnny Blaze, a man who sold his soul to the Devil to save his ailing father and became a demonic, motorcycle-riding bounty hunter from Hell in return. He regrets the decision, of course and gets a second chance to get his soul back when he is pressed into service to track down Satan's 12-year-old son, Danny, and prevent the boy's possession.

The sequel has some nice action sequences, and there's a very funny throwaway bit involving a Twinkie. The film even addresses the burning question: "How does Ghost Rider urinate?" But it doesn't commit to its cheesy "badness." Cage is the only one here aware that he is making a B-movie comedy. Everyone else plays it straight. Could talented actors like Idris Elba and Ciaran Hinds have known that co-directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor were going to have Cage narrate the film, calling on him to record each voiceover mere seconds after awaking from naps? Who knows? While not terrible, I can't rate this any higher than a 4.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed February 17, 2012 / Posted February 17, 2012

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