Back in the early 1980′s the only comic book that ever appealed to me, outside of Spiderman of course, was Ghost Rider. I mean, what’s to love about a dude with a skull head riding a flaming motorcycle?
Over the years I managed to acquire nearly every issue of the series but was so disappointed when the first installment of this movie franchise came out in 2007 that I wound up selling my prized collection on Ebay before the price of them tanked like Worldcom stock.
Suffice to say, Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance has made me reconsider my hasty sell off. Well, maybe just a little bit.
Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance once again stars Nicholas Cage as Johnny Blaze, the man who made a deal with the devil. Johnny’s curse for signing on the dotted line with the big guy downstairs is that he gets possessed by the demon Zarathos, a spirit whose sole mission is punishing the guilty.
This time around a young boy, Danny and his mother Nadya (Fergus Riordan and Violante Placido respectively) are the targets of a new devil, Roarke (Ciaran Hinds).
Apparently, the human vessel Roarke has been using on Earth is not powerful enough to hold his demonic energy and he needs the boy to unleash total hell.
To help him acquire the boy for his evil intentions he enlists the help of a group of ruffians led by Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth).
An exiled Blaze (Cage) is enlisted to help retrieve the child by a gun-toting priest named Moreau (Idris Elba). In return for his help, Moreau offers to free Johnny from his curse as the Ghost Rider.
Things I enjoyed the most:
1. The action: I found myself more caught up in the fight scenes in this film as opposed to the original. Some cartoonish death scenes but nothing anyone with an X-Box 360 and Call of Duty hasn’t seen before.
2. Idris Elba: For me, this guy steals the movie. Even with all the campiness in some of the scenes he still comes across as genuine.
3. I liked the fact that they decided to use a new female character with no affection for Johnny instead of bringing back Eva Mendes from the original film as his love interest. In fact, there’s no mention at all of Johnny’s old flame (“flame”…get it?).
It was quite obvious that one of the intentions of using Eva in the first movie was to showcase her character’s cleavage. Not that there’s anything wrong with that mind you. But did they have to make it so damn obvious? Violante’s shirt never comes unbuttoned in GR2.
4. The Devil’s Red-Eye: The body that Roarke possesses is a dude with one regular eye and one red one. It actually works to showcase demonic intent.
5. The Sponge Cake reference: Proof positive that some things will even survive the apocalypse.
What I Didn’t Like:
1. Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze: Sorry, but I really believe the Ghost Rider franchise could have been a blockbuster success if they had used an up and coming young actor to play Johnny Blaze. No offense, but its hard to believe that a 48-year old Cage can be a stunt motorcycle rider and the Spirit of Vengeance.
2. The Cheese: A bit over the top at times. But if you’re expecting to see a “serious” comic book adaptation (ex. The Dark Knight) then you should probably be warned. Although the scene where Johnny and Danny are talking about urinating is pretty damn funny.
3. The “F” Bomb: Yep, there’s one here and its very near the end. Why they had to use it at all makes absolutely no sense.
Overall, Ghost Rider 2 is a fun ride. If you’re a fan of the Marvel franchise this is one you should check out. If for no better reason than to see the Amazing Spiderman Trailer they show before the movie.
And you all know about me and Spidey.
I can still remember it like it was yesterday. I was fourteen years old and my parents had just paid for my first subscription to The Amazing Spider-Man comic book. Having grown tired of my whining for sixty cents every month and my pestering of the local drug store for the latest issue they gave in to my demands and sent in a check for $7.20. I could hardly wait for the first issue of my favorite super-hero to arrive in my mailbox.
I was a Spider-Man from way back you see. As far as I could remember. Well, I’m guessing that my ability to recall things started at age five so at the time probably about nine years if you want to really get technical about it.
Regardless, if there was anything Spider-Man related, I wanted in on it. I loved the idea of how a guy everyone considered a dork (like me) could become this superhero with all the abilities of a spider. The red and blue tights concealing his identity only added to my excitement.
Want to know how much I love Spider-Man? Here are just some of the highlights:
- I remember literally running home from school to watch the old Spidey cartoons from the 1960′s. Although I must admit, I thought the people who created it must have been high on mushrooms or something because some of the crazy psychedelic scenes were a bit over the top.
- My brother and I shared a room growing up and he used to wake me up in the middle of the night. He’d say I was dreaming that I was Spider-Man and literally trying to climb the walls. I still haven’t forgiven him for rousing me. I mean, bro, I was Spider-Man!!!
- My neighbor friend and I actually made our own Spider-Man movies with an 8mm camera complete with costumes.
- I was laughed to scorn when the live action Spider-Man series was on television in the mid 1970′s. You definitely take your lumps when you’re a Spidey fan.
Back to my original point: I was so excited to be getting my first Spidey subscription that I eagerly checked the mail every day. Days turned into weeks but I knew my heart my boy Spidey would never let me down. He’d arrive, just in time, like the theme song from his cartoon said. Sure enough, one day I opened the mailbox and there was a comic book completely surrounded by a brown paper bag style wrapper. Spidey was HERE in all of his red and blue glory!!
I hastily tore open the paper in anticipation of what lay inside, being extra careful not to tear any pages. I could just picture Spidey beating the crap out of Dr. Octopus or The Green Goblin. Maybe the cover would have a picture of Spidey’s girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson, dangling from a building along with some villain laughing menacingly as Spidey was just out of reach of grabbing her. I could hardly wait.
Anticipation and excitement vanished immediately and my jaw dropped when I saw the cover of issue #252 looked like this:
What the? Who is this? Someone must have screwed up at the comic book department. My parents checked the wrong title when they ordered. NEW Spiderman? What effing’ rumors are you talking about? I never got that memo. Apparently though, some alien costume had replaced the red and blue tights my homey always wore and I was NOT a happy camper.
With a quick look insider this comic I determined there was no red and blue costume at all. This was NOT my Spider-Man so out of frustration this issue quickly went into the garbage. On a side note: today that issue, which cost sixty cents back in 1984, is now worth $55.
Looking back though, I still have good memories of my days with Spider-Man and we still see each other when ever a new movie comes out (the next one being next summer).
Sadly, my dreams of being Spidey and climbing the walls don’t seem to be happening any more (thanks Bro). I do, however; still have my comic book collection tucked away with a lot of good back issues (one of them NOT being issue #252 thank you very much). I’ve even transferred the 8mm movies onto DVD so I can enjoy all of the adventures again. I’ll be selling them for $9.99 an episode for anyone interested.
It sadly took four years of this dark costumed imposter posing as my boy until the red and blue suit returned but the damage had been done. I had spent the better part of my teen years suffering in silence as my favorite hero played dress up. But it all worked out. I’m just glad my Spidey came back!