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The producers hired David S. Goyer, who had previously worked on the Blade trilogy for Marvel before moving over to the Dark Knight trilogy for Warner Bros. Back in , Goyer wrote a Ghost Rider script that everyone seems to agree was fantastic. But that film would have been R-rated and Sony Pictures, the studio behind both Ghost Rider films, was not willing to make an R-rated superhero film.

The fact that it was rated PG has emerged as the main excuse for people involved with Spirit of Vengeance to explain its failure. For the record, an R-rating, meaning potentially more profanity, violence, sexuality or drug use, does not automatically make a film better. If a film is lacking a strong central plot, characters, theme the basics of good storytelling , adding more gore and nudity may distract from the shortcomings, but it will not fix them.

I believe that Deadpool Miller, and Logan Mangold, would have been excellent films if they had been rated PG because they were solid films at their core. So please stop saying that superhero films or horror films will magically be better with an R-rating. But, I digress. Goyer includes secret religious orders and European backdrops, which were popular in the Brown novels. Although there are no direct connections to the first Ghost Rider film, and the character's origin was mildly tweaked, Goyer views Spirit of Vengeance as a follow-up.

He set the film eight years later, with Johnny Blaze hiding out in eastern Europe, allowing the character to be in a darker, more existential emotional place than in the first film. The film was officially announced in July , over three years after the release of the first film, and Cage was confirmed to be returning.

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Most importantly, however, was the announcement of the directors. A trend has emerged in Hollywood, over the past decade or so, of studios hiring successful independent or dramatic filmmakers with unique styles to direct major blockbusters. The logic is that these filmmakers may lack experience with certain aspects of blockbuster filmmaking such as directing action or working with visual effects but they will infuse a potentially generic blockbuster with their own strengths such as strong writing, character work, unique visual approach, or quirky sense of humour to bring freshness to the genre.

The studio surrounds these filmmakers with a crew that can guide them through their new challenges, and they can deliver a stylistically different blockbuster. Marvel Studios, in particular, has become known for successfully implementing this approach with such films as Guardians of the Galaxy Gunn, , Thor: Ragnarok Waititi, and Black Panther Coogler, They quickly became known for their visceral, hands-on cinematography style, which is typically handheld and constantly in motion.

They are the kinds of filmmakers who will shoot while wearing rollerblades, or while riding a motorcycle, or while hanging off a cliff to inject more energy into shots. In an interview with Blake J. Harris for Slashfilm in , Taylor opened up about his and Neveldine's poor work ethic and substance abuse while filming Gamer.

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He claims to have cleaned up, but regrets possibly wasting the rare opportunity to direct films by being, well, wasted. It's likely that these issues played a role in Neveldine and Taylor's particular brand of extreme, physical filmmaking. And honestly, if Spirit of Vengeance is any indication, their tricks do more to obscure and sap energy from the action, than enhance it.

The cinematography and editing are sloppy and unrefined while not actually making things more kinetic or visceral. But by hiring them the producers were at least attempting to bring a different kind of energy to the series. Spirit of Vengeance ends up being a bit of a mixed-bag. Certain elements work better in this film than the first one, such as the more-defined relationship between Blaze and the Ghost Rider, and the sense of constant propulsion from beginning to end.

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But the style, though unique for the superhero genre, detracts from the overall film. Furthermore, the tone is uneven, and can never quite overcome the silliness of its premise.

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  • The result of the sloppy filmmaking and uneven tone is a film that is pure B-movie. It's a trashy, fitfully entertaining but forgettable action film that is a far cry from the polished studio comic book films that had become increasingly common in Hollywood. The film opens with a priest, Moreau Idris Elba , riding his motorcycle to a monastery in the mountains of Romania to warn them about an imminent attack.

    Danny Ketch is the name of the character who popularly succeeded Johnny Blaze as Ghost Rider in the comics during the '90s, but here he is the child of the devil. Now, as Danny's thirteenth birthday approaches, Roarke hires Carrigan Johnny Whitworth , a former lover of Nadya's, to kidnap Danny for a ceremony that will transfer Roarke's essence into the boy. This backstory is doled out gradually between the action in a fairly relentless film.

    The monastery is immediately attacked, and Carrigan's men chase Nadya and Danny. Moreau recruits Johnny, promising to cure him of the Ghost Rider curse if he protects Danny. Carrigan catches up to Nadya and manages to escape with Danny when the Ghost Rider attacks. Johnny teams up with Nadya to locate Danny again, and the Ghost Rider decimates Carrigan and his men the second time.

    Roarke arrives and gives the dying Carrigan powers of decay with which he can combat the Rider.

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    Meanwhile, Moreau leads Johnny, Nadya and Danny to another hidden monastery. As he breaks Johnny's curse with surprising ease, the monks, led by Methodius Christopher Lambert , attempt to kill Danny to stop Roarke's plans. The monks are killed by Carrigan, who takes Danny to Roarke for the ceremony.


    Despite losing his Ghost Rider powers, Johnny insists on rescuing Danny. He, Moreau and Nadya track down Roarke to a castle in Turkey, where his followers have assembled to witness him passing his essence into Danny. Johnny and Moreau sneak in, but Moreau is killed and Johnny is captured. Danny uses his "son of the devil" powers to return Johnny's Ghost Rider powers, however, and Roarke tries to escape. And then, with the mission over, the film ends immediately and unceremoniously.

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    A story such as this, filled with fantastical or pseudo-religious elements, is typically presented in one of two ways: with complete, straight-faced conviction, or with a jokey detachment. The former method requires complete commitment and emotional honesty from the writers and the actors, but it runs the risk of being unintentionally laughable if it misses the mark. The latter method is far more common in Hollywood these days, and it typically requires a character from outside of the fantastical world who can comment incredulously on the proceedings. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance cannot seem to decide which approach it wants to take, and it ends up somewhere in the middle, making the film tonally uneven. The main problem is there's no character who's outside of the world that can comment on the insanity, the audience surrogate.

    Johnny and Nadya both made deals with the devil Roarke , Danny is the result of one of the deals, the son of the devil, and Moreau is a priest who battles these supernatural threats. The only character who could reasonably be expected to react with appropriate surprise to all of the film's shenanigans is Carrigan, an ordinary mercenary hired by Roarke, but he accepts everything pretty fast. And so, with no appropriate character to call out strange occurances, the screenwriters decided to use an inappropriate character: Johnny Blaze. All Rights Reserved. Cage's performance as Blaze is all over the place which, sadly, was what audiences expected from Cage at this stage of his career.

    Some of the time, he plays Johnny dramatically, as a man haunted by his curse and guilt over ruining his life. In these scenes, his character feels fully integrated into the world and takes everything seriously. At other times, he plays a manic version, barely holding in the insane demon that has possessed him. These are the most "Nicholas Cage" moments in the film, full of crazed intensity and laughing fits.

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    They are often punctuated by cartoonish CGI moments of bulging eye sockets or half-skull faces or fire spouting from his nose, as if the Ghost Rider skull is pushing its way out of his face. The performance is over-the-top and the accompanying visuals are terrible. But the most problematic moments from a tonal perspective are the times the screenplay calls on Johnny to act surprised by what's occurring.

    This is a man who occasionally transforms into a flaming-skull motorcycle demon, but he raises an eyebrow at Nadya's deal with Roarke or at Danny exhibiting powers. These moments of Johnny's jokey detachment, which come in dialogue scenes as well as in voiceover, undermine the film by preventing it from fully committing to its silly premise. The tone ultimately feels sort of juvenile as a result. The story is told like an insecure teenager recounting a cool fantasy story to his friends, but cracking jokes about it to feign a cool detachment.

    There are also some issues with the characterization of Johnny and the Ghost Rider. In Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance , Johnny is motivated by the prospect of ridding himself of the curse. This is a nitpick because Spirit of Vengeance feels mostly disconnected from Ghost Rider. The character's motivations in this film contradict his big, heroic decision at the end of the first film. Spirit of Vengeance also wedges in some additional mythology for the character that never really lands.

    Before taking away Johnny's curse, Moreau explains that he's possessed by Zarathos, which was once an Angel of Justice but was corrupted into being a Demon of Vengeance. At the very end of the film, Danny seems dead from a car crash. Johnny says that he can feel the Angel of Justice inside of him, his hand starts burning with blue fire instead of orange fire, and he resurrects Danny.

    The film ends seconds later, making this turn of events go completely unexplained. How did the nature of the spirit possessing Johnny change so suddenly? Did Johnny's heroism somehow change the nature of the demon possessing him? Our course will provide you with educational and cultural experiences which are unique to the UK, and will give you a familiarity with the role UK comics publishers and creators have had in influencing the global comics industry.

    You'll find the course very useful in terms of expanding your knowledge of the history of comics, and the artistic and literary potential of the medium.