Ghost Rider:Spirit of Vengeance(released Feb/12) stars Nicholas Cage as the Ghost rider,Johnny Blaze,Johnny Whitworth as Ray Carrigan,Fergus Riordan as Danny,Ciarán Hinds as Roarke,Violante Placido as Nadya,Danny's mother,and Idris Elba as Moreau.This installment of the movie franchise(yes,you bet there will be sequels),is a film onto itself,that is you don't need to have seen the first to get this one.Also it has a far greater sense of humour and a more balls-to-the-walls dynamic than the previous venture,and I liked it.
The plot finds the Rider in eastern Europe.A black Frenchman by the name of Moreau is after protecting a boy named Danny and his mother Nadya.They are on the run from one Ray Carrigan,who works for none other than the devil himself,this incarnation going by the name of Roarke.The pair don't stop to accept Moreau's help as they're too busy fleeing from Ray,and just by the skin of their teeth.
Moreau seeks out and finds the Ghost Rider and asks him to help him to find and protect Danny,and in exchange he will rid Johnny Blaze of his inner demon.The bargain made,they set out to find and confront Ray and his boys,and get Danny back.At one point a confrontation of gigantic proportions takes place in a quarry.Ray has rendezvoused with an arms dealer who allows him the use of a bunker busting bazooka.The Ghost Rider appears and Ray goes to work,but nothing stops the Rider who ends up tearing the entire contingent of men there apart,using an immense digger that comes to life in flames.Ray is seemingly dead and the Rider has both mother and Danny,safe for the moment.
They arrive at a monastery where the monks hide the boy and his mother for their own safety and the Rider undergoes a cleansing ritual of sorts within the monastery's catacombs.Before he does we learn that it was an ancient angel that was taken down to hell and turned mad,that now inhabits Blaze's body.When the Rider comes out,the demon within is gone,as Moreau promised,but the monks are now bent on killing the boy,as he is the child of Satan and must be taken care of before the devil comes to inhabit his body.Before the monks can perform their duty,Ray re-appears,now risen from the dead by the devil and given enhanced powers.He kills each monk but Johnny and company are powerless to stop Ray from taking the boy to Roarke.
The scene switches to Turkey at an ancient site of ruins,where the devil will transfer himself into Danny.Johnny and Moreau storm the ceremony and the shooting begins.Moreau is killed in the ensuing struggle by Ray and Johnny is captured and about to be killed by Ray also.However Danny stops Johnny's death by seconds,walks up to Johnny and taking Johnny's head in his hands gives him back his Ghost Rider powers once more.Roarke and Ray,however,get away with Danny.
A high speed pursuit takes place in which Ray is killed and the vehicle with the devil and Danny is sent out of control and ends up upside down at the side of the road.The Rider whips out his chain and sends the devil back home,and then revives an apparently deceased Danny with the good spirit of justice from the original angel inside of him.The Rider himself now appears in blue flames,riding into the distance.Fade to black.
I love the sense of humour in this film and the much more intense dynamic that Johnny/the Rider exhibits;harkening back to the comics.We see Johnny's control,what he ever had of it,is now not as strong as it used to be,as the spirit within has grown much stronger since we last saw him.We also learn about the ancient spirit that inhabits his body,that IT was driven mad,which explains Johnny's ever perverse and growing behavioral change.Also someone has FINALLY explained and shown,what happens to such a character as the Rider,when on fire and in his full glory,when he has to go to the washroom!! He explains it to Danny,and I won't give away the answer if you haven't seen it,but it is to die for,so to speak.There are some plot weaknesses in the film,such as Moreau's back story and Nadya's disappearance and sudden reappearance from Eastern Europe to Turkey.I am wondering whether an extended version might help explain these two points better.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 2:40:1 and is clear and crisp.Extras include deleted scenes only.
All in all a step up,I think,from the original film as it pushes the whole kit and kaboodle up a notch,with some interesting developments in Blaze's character and alter ego.The story and its elements harken back a little more to its comic book origins,and along with the Rider's epic battles and off-kilter attitude it also has a nice sense of humour about itself.4-4 1/2 stars.On fire and recommended!!