At the recent San Diego Comic Con fans were treated to a sneak peak of the new Ghost Rider movieSpirit of Vengeance. It’s a darker version of the first and it promises to include more action and outrageous stunts from the team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor who brought us the two Crank movies (a third entry is in the works but star Jason Statham’s involvement is tentative – surely Crank without Statham would be like making a Magnificent Seven movie without Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen!)
While the Spirit of Vengeance footage looked good, we have to remember that Neveldine also wrote the poorly received Jonah Hex movie, which saw him totally ignored Hex's origin replacing it with a paint-by-numbers story with cliched bad guys that would piss off Roy Rogers, Tom Mix and Hopalong Cassidy's ghosts (who are probably waiting for Neveldine when he rides off into the sunset). Talk about a spirit of vengeance!
This time, Johnny Blaze is hiding out in Eastern Europe dealing with his angst of being the Ghost Rider only to find himself tasked with protecting a 10 year old boy with a world-threatening secret.
Apparently, Neveledine didn't read any of the Ghost Rider comic books and created a whole new story. Having not read the script, I can't comment on it, but with the amount of comics that were published in the Ghost Rider series there could have been a lot to pull from.
On hand at the comic con panel were Neveldine and Taylor as well as actors Johnny Whitworth, Fergus Riordan and the film's star, Nicholas Cage who was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time as we're a couple of old school guys that started in the trenches way back when.
WSB: Nick, great to see you!
NC: You too, man.
WSB: Certainly is a far cry from when we were ushers back in the day. You at the Fairfax theater and me at the Bruin.
NC: Yeah, some good times. Good memories.
WSB: You know they closed the Fairfax down. Probably will put up a mini mall or something else the world doesn't need.
NC: Yeah, that's a shame. They tore down the Gilroy drive in too. Now it’s a baseball field.
WSB: Your new film, 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance', what's different about this sequel?
NC: It’s darker. Closer to the comic books with dark humor, action and lots of scary stuff thrown in. I really got into the character enhancing the weirdness of him creating a deeper dimension. I'd walk around with these dark contacts on during the shoot while staying in character on the set and I think it really set the mood for the film.
WSB: Did you do any of your own stunts?
NC: I did some, but the insurance people would only let me do so many. Still, it was great to get on that bike, except for the part where I'm spinning upside down holding my handles back. That was a scary and long day.
WSB: I'll bet!
NC: The director was a great guy to work with and understands the comic book genre. There used to be a time that if you read comic books, you were a freak.
WSB: I've always been a comic book freak.
NC: Me too! And now look around you. Comic books are acceptable entertainment now.
WSB: I guess 200,000 people here at San Diego Comic Con can't be wrong. Will this be in 3D?
NC: We didn't shoot it in 3D, but it all depends on what the studio wants to do with it.
WSB: I'm burned out on 3D. If it’s a good story, it doesn't need it.
NC: I agree and this is a great story.
WSB: So, when do we expect the Ghost Rider to come blazing across our screens?
NC: There's still some visual effects that need to be added, but principal photography has been completed so we're looking at early 2012.
WSB: Looking forward to seeing it. Nice talking with you.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is released in the US on the 17th of February 2012, and the UK on the 22nd.