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Blu-ray Review: Ghost Rider - Spirit of Vengeance / Cert: 12 / Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor / Screenplay: Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman / Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elbam, Johnny Whitworth / Release Date: Out Now

The first cinematic interpretation of Marvel’s Ghost Rider was nobody’s idea of a good time in early 2007. Coming in the midst of a Nicolas Cage career slump that he has never really recovered from, the film was boring and overblown. The sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance redresses the balance somewhat and is a better film but still far away from a masterpiece.

The story finds a sweaty Nicolas Cage with a new hairpiece hiding out in Eastern Europe trying to keep his curse at bay and not become the demon Ghost Rider and devour the souls of guilty men. Which is all well and good until a badly accented Idris Elba turns up as some kind of rogue monk who is fond of wine and a bad stereotype of the French. It seems that the devil known here as ‘Roarke’ and played by Ciaran Hinds is after a child called Danny and his ex-hooker with a heart mother. The child is special for some reason which is never really made clear and Johnny Blaze is the only one who can protect them.

This films plot is pretty much a Terminator riff with Cage/Ghost Rider in the protector role and a bunch of European actors all becoming cannon fodder during the scenes where the demon takes hold of Blaze. Visually the film is a win, they have perfected the look of the Ghost Rider and this time around Cage himself played the demon in a mo-cap suit and imbues the creature with lots of little odd tics that make you believe that this fiery being is walking the earth. When the rider starts throwing his chains around and is attacked with guns and rocket launchers the film really snaps and is miles better than anything in the first movie. The climatic chase is also great with Neveldine/Taylor’s lunatic camera work coming to the fore in an effective manner that makes sense for the scenes.

Sadly the rest of the film is not up to par, the aforementioned script is a problem because no one’s motivation is ever made clear and your never quite sure who is doing what at any one time. There are also a few too many conveniences, especially in the climax. This could be Neveldine/Taylor’s fault because they employ their patented crazy camera work even when two characters are just talking. It could be because they were filming in Europe this time around but when action isn’t taking place their use of the camera and film stock just makes the whole thing look cheap. Cage’s performance is also all over the place, it seems like they didn’t have the guts to rein him in and so he went truly nuts with his ‘mega crazy acting’.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance could have been worse but is still something of another missed opportunity for one of Marvel’s darker characters.

Special Features: Deleted Scenes, 2D and 3D versions of the film, 3D featurette, Behind the scenes features.

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