Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is a 2011 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics antihero Ghost Rider. It is the stand-alone sequel to the 2007 film Ghost Rider and stars Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze / Ghost Rider with supporting roles portrayed by Ciarán Hinds, Violante Placido, Johnny Whitworth, Christopher Lambert, and Idris Elba. The film was directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, from a screenplay written by Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman, and David S. Goyer. Released publicly for one night in December 11, 2011, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance had its wide commercial release on February 17, 2012 in 2D and 3D.
|Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance|
Theatrical release poster
|Story by||David S. Goyer|
|Music by||David Sardy|
|Edited by||Brian Berdan|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$132.6 million|
The film experienced worse critical reception than the first film, with criticism being aimed towards the script, CGI, and acting. The film grossed more than $132 million, against its $57 million production budget.
Nicolas Cage stated that he was "done" with the Ghost Rider films and a planned sequel was cancelled. The film rights to the character reverted to Marvel Studios shortly thereafter, and the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider appeared in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
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In Romania, an alcoholic French monk named Moreau warns a monastery about an impending attack by the devil's forces to obtain a boy named Danny. In the attack, Moreau tries to help the boy and his mother Nadya escape, but the distrusting mother shoots at Moreau and flees with her son. Moreau believes that only the Ghost Rider can protect the boy. He finds the Rider and seeks his help.
Eight years have passed since Johnny Blaze became the Ghost Rider – a vengeful, fiery spirit who feeds on the evil of his victims and consumes the souls of sinners. No matter how big or small the infraction — anything from genocide to a white lie — the Rider does not differentiate. This drives Blaze into hiding, fighting the evil spirit within him. In exchange for his help, Moreau promises to restore Johnny's soul and remove the Ghost Rider's curse. Meanwhile, pursuers force Nadya and Danny from the road and bring them to their leader: her former boyfriend Ray Carrigan. Carrigan has Danny tied up and is about to execute Nadya when the Ghost Rider appears; the Ghost Rider kills several of Carrigan's men and then moves in on Danny. Nadya distracts the Ghost Rider, who then is shot with grenades into submission.
Johnny awakens in hospital. Despite his injuries he leaves the hospital, and despite not trusting him, he convinces Nadya to accept his help. Carrigan tells Roarke about the Rider, and Roarke speaks an incantation to Danny over phone, which effectively prevents the Rider from sensing Danny's location. Roarke warns it will not shield Carrigan from being sensed and gives him instructions to deliver Danny. Nadya tells Blaze that as she lay dying, she made a deal with Roarke: her life in return for him impregnating her with Danny, making Danny a direct vessel for Roarke and the potential for him to have unlimited power on the surface world. Roarke lacks this power so far from Hell. Danny nearly escapes, but breaks his ankle and is recaptured. That night, Nadya and Johnny interrogate a known contact of Carrigan's. Johnny takes off ahead of Nadya to deal with Carrigan. Nadya rescues Danny as the Rider converts a mining machine (a Bagger 288) into a massive fiery machine, destroying their hideout complex and mortally wounding Carrigan. When Ghost Rider catches up to Nadya and starts to use his Penance Stare on her, Danny is able to stop the Rider with a word, exercising his hidden power.
Roarke is not done with Carrigan; he turns Carrigan into a demon called Blackout capable of instantly decaying anything he touches. Johnny and Nadya bring Danny to the monastery. Moreau explains that the Ghost Rider is the twisted incarnation of the Spirit of Justice, Zarathos, after being captured and tortured in Hell. Moreau tells Johnny that he can exorcise the spirit if Johnny tells a secret that only he knows of. Johnny confesses that his deal with Roarke was really a selfish one: his stepfather had accepted his cancer and was ready to die; Johnny was the one who did not want him to go. Moreau exorcises the spirit and Johnny becomes human again. The head monk Methodius proclaims that Danny will never be safe from the influence of evil and says he must die, taking them captive in order to execute the boy. Carrigan intervenes, killing the monks and taking Danny captive again. The others follow, with Johnny not wanting to desert Danny after having promised to protect him. With the ritual to transfer Roarke's spirit and power into Danny underway, the three infiltrate the compound to save him. Carrigan kills Moreau, but Danny (who Roarke states has the same powers as he does) gives Johnny back the power of the Ghost Rider. Roarke manages to escape with Danny and the Ghost Rider and Nadya give pursuit. After a vehicular struggle, Ghost Rider manages to defeat Carrigan and causes the vehicle carrying Roarke and Danny to crash. The Ghost Rider sends Roarke back into Hell while Danny, who had died in the accident, is returned to his mother. Channeling the blue flame of Zarathos, Johnny revives Danny and assures him of his safety.
The angelic blue flaming Ghost Rider rides off on his motorcycle, saying: "My name is Johnny Blaze. I'm the Ghost Rider."
- Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze / Ghost Rider: A motorcycle stunt man who sold his soul to the devil to save his father from cancer, and became the devil's servant called the Spirit of Vengeance, a fiery spirit that feeds on the evil of its victims.
- Johnny Whitworth as Ray Carrigan / Blackout: A mercenary, drug dealer, and gun runner turned into Blackout by the devil to complete his job. This transformation gives him the fortitude and supernatural abilities to compete with Ghost Rider. Carrigan's powers are completely unlike those of the comic book character; writers admitted that the only aspect of Blackout they used in designing the movie version was his appearance.
- Fergus Riordan as Daniel "Danny" Ketch: A young child caught up in a demonic conspiracy who ends up in the care of Johnny Blaze during his travels.
- Ciarán Hinds as Roarke / Mephistopheles / the devil: The human form of the demon who transformed Johnny Blaze in the Ghost Rider. Mephisto has fathered a child named Danny, and has plans for the boy. Peter Fonda, who portrayed the character in the first film, had previously expressed interest in reprising the role, however Hinds was hired to portray a new body the Devil possesses.
- Violante Placido as Nadya Ketch: Danny's mother and Ray's ex-girlfriend who helps Johnny to stop Mephisto from taking over Danny's body.
- Idris Elba as Moreau: A French member of a secret religious organization who joins forces with Johnny. He is the one who tells Johnny to find Danny. Moreau is an original character, not based on an existing comic character.
- Christopher Lambert as Methodius, a senior monk.
- Anthony Head as Benedict: A senior monk at the castle where Nadya and Danny are hiding at the start of the film.
- Jacek Koman as Terrokov
- Vincent Regan as Toma Nikasevic: An arms dealer who works with Carrigan.
- Spencer Wilding as Grannik
On February 9, 2007, Marvel producer Avi Arad announced the development of Ghost Rider 2 at a press event. Peter Fonda had also expressed a desire to return as Mephistopheles. In early December, 2007, Nicolas Cage also expressed interest to return in the lead role as Ghost Rider. Shortly after, in another interview he went on further to mention that he would enjoy seeing a darker story, adding, "He's not eating jelly beans anymore; he's getting drunk". He suggested that the film could do with newly created villains. It was also rumored that the sequel would feature Danny Ketch, another Marvel character who took up the Ghost Rider mantle in the comics.
In a September 2008 interview, Cage informed IGN that Columbia had taken meetings to start a sequel. Cage noted conversations about the story, where Ghost Rider may end up in Europe on behalf of the church, having story elements "very much in the zeitgeist, like Da Vinci Code." In February 2009, an online source stated Columbia Pictures had greenlit a sequel to Ghost Rider. Nicolas Cage was stated to reprise the lead role, whilst the studio were in search of writers. On September 23, 2009, it was reported that David S. Goyer had signed on to write the script for the sequel. Goyer spoke to MTV about the sequel, stating that the story would pick up eight years after the events of the first film and that he hopes to start filming by 2010. On July 14, 2010 it was confirmed that Nicolas Cage would return, and Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor were announced to direct the film, with editor Brian Berdan and cinematographer Brandon Trost reuniting with the directors from the Crank films. Taylor said this version of Ghost Rider was darker than the first film and based based loosely on the miniseries by Garth Ennis and Clayton Crain.
In July 2010, Cage revealed shooting was to start in November. In an interview with Superhero Hype!, Eva Mendes revealed that she would not be back as Roxanne for the sequel. The film was shot in Romania and Turkey. The film started principal photography in Sibiu, Romania in November 2010, using mostly local talent. Principal photography was completed on January 24, 2011. On March 16, 2011, it was confirmed that Johnny Whitworth would be playing the villain Blackout. The film was shot in 2D and converted in post-production to 3D.
Filming in Turkey took place in Cappadocia, a historical region in central Turkey with exotic chimney-topped rocky setting. The scene with the Greco-Roman theatre was filmed in Pamukkale where the ancient Greek (of the Seleucid Empire) city of Hierapolis once stood.
The motorcycle used by Cage was a Yamaha VMAX.
The film opened in 3,174 theaters at #3, with North American box office receipts of $22.1 million, behind Safe House, which moved to #1 on its second weekend. The Vow, the holdover from the previous week, made less than half of Ghost Rider's opening weekend of $45.4 million. It went on to gross $51.8 million at the U.S. box office and $80.8 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $132.6 million.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance holds an approval rating of 18%, based on 113 reviews, and an average rating of 3.82/10. The website's consensus reads, "With a weak script, uneven CG work, and a Nic Cage performance so predictably loony it's no longer amusing, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance aims to be trashy fun but ends up as plain trash." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 34 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "Generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by Cinemascore gave the film a C+ rating on a scale from A to F.
Reviewers who viewed an early preview screening at the December 2011 Butt-Numb-A-Thon in Austin expressed negative reactions to the film. Two attendees said it was worse than the first Ghost Rider film, and one said that the sequel makes the first film "look like The Dark Knight" by comparison.
IGN reviewer Scott Collura gave the movie four out of five stars, saying it "is a movie you'll either love or hate". He commends the film for bringing the cartoonish insanity of the Crank movies to insane concept of Ghost Rider. Andrew Barker of Variety called it a marginal improvement on the first film but said "The picture is still much too rickety, slapdash and surprisingly dull to qualify as a good barrel-bottom pleasure." Ben Sachs of the Chicago Reader notes that this is the first time directors Neveldine and Taylor have directed a script they didn't write, and "and the superhero plot often seems to hamper their imaginations" but says the film "doesn't lack for crazy charm", praising Cage and Hinds for their admittedly weird performances.
Marc Savlov from the Austin Chronicle awarded the film 1.5 out of 5 stars, writing, "Cage appears to find his role as this second-tier Marvel Comics antihero alternately silly, tremendously fun, and the means to a decent paycheck for not all that much work." Savlov also criticized the film's use of 3D as being "a few shots of flaming motorcycle parts comin' at ya, but little else." Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club welcomed Idris Elba's role as the alcoholic priest Rabin, but criticized the film for "squandering even more potential" and that it fails to achieve the "go-for-broke energy of superior trash."Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called the film "a dreadful mess", and "a dishwater dull sequel to the hellishly bad 2007 original", and said he'd never seen worse 3D.
In February 2012, directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor discussed producing a potential Ghost Rider 3, and having someone else direct it. Neveldine told The Playlist that Cage had expressed interest in appearing in another Ghost Rider film, hinting that the film could move forward provided that Spirit of Vengeance was a success, saying, "I know Nic wants to do it, he's very pumped about it ... We'll just have to see how well [this] does." In March 2013, when Cage was asked about a possible third installment, he said, "It's possible, but it won't be with me ... Anything's possible. But I doubt, highly, that I would be in the third installment of that." Cage said in 2013 he believes another Ghost Rider film might happen "down the road", saying, "It would be interesting if they did it with a female Ghost Rider." He added, "Personally, I'm done. I've done what I had to do with that part. You never say never, but right now, today, I would say that I'm done."Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige announced on May 2, 2013, that the film rights to Ghost Rider had reverted to Marvel Studios, though he also stated that the studio needed to wait until the right time to make another Ghost Rider film.
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