Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
|Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance|
|Story by||David S. Goyer|
|Edited by||Brian Berdan|
|Music by||David Sardy|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures (through Sony Pictures Releasing)|
|Box office||$132.6 million|
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is a 2011 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics antihero Ghost Rider. It is a standalone sequel to the 2007 film Ghost Rider and features Nicolas Cage reprising his role 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 on December 11, 2011, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance had its wide commercial release on February 17, 2012 in 2D and 3D.
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 $57-75 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 were reverted back to Marvel Studios shortly thereafter, and the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider appeared in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
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. During the attack, Moreau tries to help the boy and his mother Nadya escape, but the distrusting Nadya shoots at Moreau and flees with her son. Believing that only the Ghost Rider can protect the boy, Moreau seeks the Rider's 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. The Rider does not differentiate between infractions—anything from genocide to a white lie—and Blaze is driven into hiding, fighting the evil spirit within him. In exchange for Blaze's help, Moreau promises to restore his soul and remove the Ghost Rider's curse.
Nadya and Danny's pursuers force them off the road and bring them to their leader: Nadya's former boyfriend Ray Carrigan. Carrigan is about to execute Nadya when the Ghost Rider appears, killing several of Carrigan's men. Nadya distracts the Ghost Rider, who is shot with grenades.
Johnny awakens in the hospital, leaving despite his injuries, and convinces Nadya to accept his help. Carrigan tells the demon Mephistopheles, in the form of Roarke, about the Rider, and Roarke speaks an incantation to Danny over the phone, preventing the Rider from sensing Danny's location. Warning that the spell will not safeguard Carrigan, Roarke gives him instructions to deliver to Danny. Nadya tells Blaze that as she lay dying, she made a deal with Roarke: her life in exchange for him impregnating her, making their child a direct vessel for Roarke, potentially giving him limitless power in the mortal world. Danny nearly escapes, but breaks his ankle and is recaptured.
That night, Nadya and Johnny interrogate a contact of Carrigan's. Johnny takes off to deal with Carrigan, and Nadya rescues Danny as the Rider possess a mining machine turning it into a massive fiery machine, destroying the hideout and mortally wounding Carrigan. When the Ghost Rider catches up to Nadya and uses his Penance Stare, Danny is able to stop him with a word.
Roarke turns Carrigan into the demon Blackout, capable of decaying anything he touches. Johnny and Nadya bring Danny to the monastery, where 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 only he knows. Johnny confesses that his deal with Roarke was a selfish one: his father had accepted his cancer and was ready to die, which Johnny could not accept. 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 must die, taking them captive to execute the boy. Carrigan intervenes, killing the monks and recapturing Danny.
With the ritual to transfer Roarke's spirit and power into Danny underway, Johnny, Nadya, and Moreau infiltrate the compound. Carrigan kills Moreau, but Danny returns the Ghost Rider's powers to Johnny, with Johnny becoming far more powerful as he is now able to stay in his Ghost Rider form in broad daylight where as before he could only do so while in the dark. Roarke escapes with Danny, pursued by the Ghost Rider and Nadya. The Rider defeats Carrigan, crashing the vehicle carrying Roarke and Danny. The Ghost Rider sends Roarke back to Hell while Danny, who had died in the crash, is returned to his mother. With Roarke defeated, Zarathos is restored to his previous incarnation as the Spirit of Justice. Channeling the blue flame of Zarathos, Johnny revives Danny and assures him he is safe. Just before the credits, Johnny is seen riding down the road in Rider form, but the flames on his bike and body are now blue.
- 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 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 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.
- 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 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
This story picks up eight years after the first film. You don't have to have seen the first film. It doesn't contradict anything that happened in the first film, but we're pretending that our audience hasn't seen the first film. It's as if you took that same character where things ended in the first film and then picked it up eight years later—he's just in a much darker, existential place.
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, while 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. The budget for "Spirit of Vengeance" was considerably lower than the first film, it cost an estimated $57-75 million to make, compared to the original film's $110 million price tag.
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 will be based on the miniseries Ghost Rider: Road to Damnation by Garth Ennis and Clayton Crain. Christopher Lambert underwent three months of sword training and shaved his head for his role. On March 16, 2011, it was confirmed that Johnny Whitworth would be playing the villain Blackout.
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. 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 producers employed a mix of targeted traditional advertising and television appearances, as well aggressive social media marketing. The directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, known for the Crank films were already popular with the young male demographic, and further fueled early interest in the film with a presentation at the 2010 San Diego Comic-con. The executive pointed out that the marketing campaign has used star Nicolas Cage sparingly in U.S. TV commercials. Cage appeared on Saturday Night Live and heavily promoted the film in Europe but he plays a secondary role to the film's effects and imagery, which one executive said made the marketing campaign seem more like it was for a video game.
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 Rotten Tomatoes, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance has an approval rating of 18%, based on 114 reviews, with an average rating of 4.00/10. 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, lower than the first film "B".
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 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 Moreau, 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 said 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, but there were no immediate plans to make another Ghost Rider film. In 2016, the Robbie Reyes incarnation of the character appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe through the television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where he is portrayed by Gabriel Luna.
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