Category: Movie Reviews

247°F : A Suspense/Thriller That Turns Up The Heat

It’s hard to imagine how being locked inside of a sauna with two beautiful women could be a bad thing, but such is the case in 247°F.

Scout Taylor-Compton plays Jenna, a girl who experiences unspeakable horror when the car she is a passenger in becomes involved in an accident that claims the life of her boyfriend. Unable to escape the wreckage, she is traumatized at having to view the mangled corpse until help arrives.

A few years later Jenna, along with her friends Renee (Christina Ulloa), Ian (Travis Van Winkle) and Michael (Michael Copon) travel to a lakeside cabin for a carefree weekend retreat. The fun quickly becomes a nightmare when three of them end up getting locked inside of a compact, hot sauna. As fear begins to set in and Jenna reconnects with the claustrophobic horror of “the accident”, things quickly spiral out of control.

247°F reunites Scout with Tyler Mane, who plays Ian’s uncle, Wade. The pair previously worked together on the Rob Zombie Halloween remakes.

As a fan of horror and psychological thrillers, I really enjoyed this movie. It’s definitely a different take on the genre, which as of late has gotten quite stale at times. There are no slashing hockey mask wearing madmen or demonic spirits menacing the group. Rather, it’s the power of the mind and realization that there may be no escape that becomes the real horror. The question quickly changes from how they got locked inside to how long can they last?

I had the pleasure of speaking with Christina Ulloa about her role and experience working on 247°F.

goJimmygo: Tell me a little bit about your character, Renee.

Christina Ulloa: Renee comes across as someone who thinks that everything revolves around her and someone that’s maybe a little bit spoiled. But when you look at it, she’s really a good friend and a loyal person. Once you get past that first layer of her sassy sort of vibe, she’s a good person at heart.

Where was the movie filmed?

We filmed in the Republic of Georgia and were there for about a month. It’s a beautiful part of the world to be in. It’s very European. Everywhere you looked you could see the mountains or the water. Traveling to that unique part of the world was incredible. That and getting to work long hours. I shot 23 out of 27 days. That was the best.

There certainly wasn’t much to worry about in terms of make-up or wardrobe.

Not really. There wasn’t much of that. [laughs]

What was the chemistry like among the cast?

When you’re on location and stuck like we were, both literally and figuratively in this case – [laughs], you bond quicker and spend more time together than if you just went home every day after work. We all formed genuine friendships and that chemistry really comes across well on-screen. It was a lot of fun.

How would you describe 247°F?

It’s psychological in that it plays into the common theme of just feeling trapped. I think that’s something everyone can relate to. Whether it’s a relationship, a career or just life in general. We all deal with having to overcome conflicts that suffocate us in any aspect of life.

How do you think you would react to the situation of being locked inside of a sauna in real life?

I like to think that I would find some super human strength to bang the door down [laughs]. I certainly know what it feels like to feel claustrophobic and the desperate sense of needing to get out.

247°F will be released on October 23rd by Anchor Bay Films. The Blu-ray™ and DVD includes audio commentary with writer / producer / director Levan Bakhia and deleted scenes.

Article first published as 247°F : Suspense/Thriller That Turns Up the Heat on Technorati.

Beside Her: A Short Film That Defines The Human Connection

Carrie Carnevale. Remember the name, because Carrie’s directorial debut in the movie Beside Her is nothing short of incredible.

The short film, a love story and fictional portrayal of the true human condition, will next be screened on Saturday, September 22nd at the Healdsburg International Short Film Festival in Healdsburg, CA.

Watching the film, you quickly forget that the lovers you see on-screen are female and become more enthralled with the deep love and connection they both share with each other.

Along with the amazing talents of actors Ashley Watkins , Erika Flores and Owen Conway, Carrie delivers a film that contains all of the elements that make up a great story: there’s love, tension, drama, passion, suspense and even a twist in the end for good measure!

But Beside Her is much more than a love story between two women. It’s a beautiful film about the human condition and the deep connection we all share but are often oblivious to.

Beside Her tells the story of Dr. Rachel Moretti (Ashley Watkins) and Sofia Rios (Erika Flores) and how, in one brief moment in time, their love for each other is measured beyond the norms of their everyday lives.

I had the opportunity to speak with Carrie and the cast of “Beside Her”.

goJimmygo (gJg): Carrie, congratulations on directing your first short film and all of your success!

Carrie Carnevale (CC): Thank You. I was lucky enough to have an amazing team, full of extremely talented people. It was a wonderful collaborative experience.

gJg: Tell me a little bit about the film’s origin.

CC: I wanted to write a story about the human connection; about the ways in which human beings connect with each other. Whether it be someone you’re dating, someone you’re married to, family, friends or even strangers; we’re all connected all the time. The problem is we tend to get distracted by the hustle and bustle of everyday life, that sometimes we forget that.

I wanted to concentrate this story on two people who are in a relationship because I think that type makes for a very complex and compelling situation. There’s an unspoken connection that two people in love share with each other that makes the connection a lot deeper.

gJg: Were you concerned at all about the content and subject matter of a love story between two women?

CC: No, not at all. Even when people initially read the script, they were glad to see that it was a story about love rather than a story about being gay. Showing that gay or not, love is love and we all have those same feelings of connectedness.

gJg: The musical score for the film is amazing. It perfectly complements the love scene and the ending as well.

CC: It really does. The song we chose for those scenes are an absolute match. Lyrically, it’s great and the mood it sets is just so powerful and amazing.

gJg: How did you get started in film making?

CC: I’ve always had a love for film making. I went to film school and spent time in the independent scene in the San Francisco Bay Area. Because of those years of work, I was able to learn so much about day-to-day production. I learned what to do and what not to do.

Along the way, I met some fellow artists who would hire me to work on their pieces, which I was honored and proud to do. In the past couple of years I felt it was time to start telling my own stories and producing my own projects and Beside Her was my first and I could not be more proud.

Ashley Watkins (Dr. Rachel Moretti)

It’s a project where it was the right time and the right place. Everything about it just felt natural!

gJg: How would you describe Beside Her?

Ashley Watkins (AW): It’s a story about love and that intuitive connection we all have and listening to it. 

We all go about our lives every day not really paying attention to that “little turn in your stomach” or the “ring in your ear”. It’s instinct.

gJg: What attracted you to this role?

AW: I’m very supportive and totally believe in equality for everyone. As an actress, there are no limits to the types of roles that I’ll play as long as I’m portrayed respectfully, and/or not exploited. If I can play something that emphasizes the common good for people and it’s something that I believe in, I love to do it. I was fortunate to get the opportunity to do that with this project and Carrie just has so much passion for the film.

Erika Flores (Sofia Rios)

It’s a story about two people who have a strong connection and in the end, there’s a twist. You don’t expect the ending at all.

gJg: Were you concerned at all about the subject matter?

Erika Flores (EF): No, not at all. I like portraying raw, challenging characters. I loved the idea of being connected and really showing the relationship.

What was it like working with Carrie on her first short film?

EF: It honestly didn’t feel like it was her first film, because the entire process was professional and handled so well.

gJg: What did you like most about the experience of filming Beside Her?

EF: Challenging myself with this role was fun. I also loved the location in Malibu where we shot my scene. That was beautiful.

gJg: If you had to briefly describe the story of Beside Her, what would it be?

EF: It’s a slice of life between two people and the relationship that they share. How their connection is so powerful that they can actually feel each other.

Owen Conway (Jeffrey)

gJg: What attracted you most to the role?

OC:  It was  a role that I really wanted to play. Jeffrey is a heavy character with a lot of desperation. It’s not something that you get to play very often.

gJg: Tell me a little bit more about Jeffrey.

OC: Jeffrey is  a “street” person who definitely has some issues. But the thing that struck me the most about him was the fact that he’s so young. 

For him, it’s just about survival.

gJg: What was the experience of filming Beside Her like?

OC: The entire shoot was fantastic. I remember seeing the final product for the first time at a screening a few months ago and being really moved by it. The whole thing came together beautifully.

You can keep up with Beside Her on Facebook and by following 17 Films on Twitter

Article first published as Beside Her: A Short Film That Defines The Human Connection on Technorati.

Movie Review: Ted

I proceeded with caution while making my way to the movie theater to see “Ted”, the new movie starring Mark Wahlberg about a teddy bear that comes to life.

The reason for my heightened awareness of the situation had nothing to do with physically getting to the local multiplex. Hardly.

No, the real reason for my hesitation was because I’ve been burned by Mark Wahlberg in the past. I still lament the hours of my life lost and the money I am out from enduring films like “Rock Star” and “The Happening”, the latter of which ranks #3 on my list of Worst Movies Of All Time.

But “Ted” is neither of those two bombs.

The story of “Ted” begins in 1985 when a friendless John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) makes a wish that his beloved Teddy bear (voiced by Seth McFarlane) could come to life. With the wish granted, Ted immediately becomes the talk of the nation, even appearing on The Tonight Show.

But soon, the novelty of Ted wears off on the public and John and Ted both “grow up”. As adults, they enjoy each others company (in between repeated viewings of the 1982 Flash Gordon movie and taking bong hits, of course). Mila Kunis plays Lori Collins, John’s girlfriend who wants him to give up living with Ted so that they can take their relationship to the next level.

What I Liked:

1. The humor. Quite a bit of it was laugh out loud funny. Particularly good was when Ted tries to get a job as a cashier at the local supermarket and meets a girl.

2. The “Guest Stars”. There are quite a few people you’ll recognize in this film that really add to the humor.

3. Mila Kunis. I mean, what’s not to love? She’s HOT!

4. It wasn’t “The Happening”.

What I didn’t like:

I have to admit, there really wasn’t much I didn’t like about Ted. Ok, if you want me to be nit picky: Mark Wahlberg’s arms looked a bit too big for his body. Perhaps a few less hammer curls in between takes would have helped.

Final Verdict: Go see it. Especially if you’re into crude jokes, sexual innuendos and watching a teddy bear engaging in recreational drug use.  I liked it.

Movie Review: The Avengers

I didn’t think it was possible. There, I admit it. I didn’t think it would be possible to put together a movie on Marvel’s “The Avengers”.

How could filmmakers possibly tell the story of an entire team of superheroes being assembled to fight a menace from another world, keep it true to the original comic and get it all done within two hours and thirty minutes without it being terrible?

But they did it. The Avengers is an action packed thrill ride you absolutely must experience.

I was the comic book connoisseur as a child, having made my parents shell out plenty of hard earned money for subscriptions to Spider-Man, Iron-Man and Captain America.

I’ve been there for Thor and The Hulk and have spent plenty of rainy Saturday afternoons in the 80’s catching up with Hawkeye and Black Widow. I know what I’m talking about.

My only regret is that this movie wasn’t made thirty years ago.

The Avengers are a team of super-heroes brought together by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who must over come their own personal egos and agendas to defeat the menace of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his alien army.

The Avengers stars Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Mark Ruffalo  (The Hulk), Chris Hemsworth (Thor) Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye).

If you care to read my thoughts on the movie please continue on. I try hard not to divulge anything regarding the plot but will still post a SPOILER ALERT:

What I Liked:

The Assumption: My biggest concern going in was how the characters would be developed. It was the biggest thing I thought might be the demise of the film: not enough time to do everything. These were things that I hated in movies like “The Dark Knight” and “Spiderman 3”. Too much to tell in too little time.

In the case of The Avengers, most everything is assumed. Its assumed you already know about all of the characters and their powers (and if you’ve read the comics or have been following the prior movies from Marvel, you already do know about them). It worked.

The Ride: I am a huge comic book fan from way back. I grew up reading Marvel comics and especially loved it when the heroes teamed up. My favorite part always being when their own egos get in the way and they’d wind up doing battle with each other before taking on the real threat. The Avengers sticks to this premise perfectly.

AC/DC: Maybe it’s just the metal head in me, but when ever Iron Man shows up and they play AC/DC’s “Shoot To Thrill” I get goose bumps. Awesome.

The Hulk: They’ve tried to use the Hulk several times in other movies but failed every time. This Hulk sticks perfectly to the raging monster he was in the comics.

One Liners: There are several good ones through out the movie.

What I didn’t like:

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury: I’ve gotta be honest and perhaps its because I’ve been inundated with Jackson in the roles of expletive wielding bad-asses over the years (“Pulp Fiction”, “Lakeview Terrace”, “Snakes on A Plane”) but I half expected a few “F” bombs to fly.

Gwyneth Paltrow: Loved her as Pepper Potts (Tony Stark’s love interest in Iron Man) but for some reason it seemed like she just “phoned it in” for this one. Answer the damn phone when it rings Pepper!

I think you get the point. It may be my inner child telling you this but quite honestly this one was a fun ride. 

Oh and one last thing: if you’re a fan of the comics you MUST stay for the credits. Trust me.

Movie Review: The Cabin In The Woods

I am a huge fan of 80’s horror movies. Always have been. I still recall the days of getting giddy whenever a new Friday The 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street movie was released.

Horror films sure have come a long way since the days when Jason and Freddy roamed aimlessly around. Truth be told, not many good ones are being released theatrically anymore. Perhaps it’s because the whole concept of horror movies has changed. Every idea has pretty much been used up.

That’s why when films like “Paranormal Activity” come around they are so successful. Its something we haven’t seen before and it makes the whole genre exciting again. At least for me.

Which leads me to “The Cabin In The Woods”. A film that has its own connection to the movies I loved. Heather Langencamp, who played Nancy in the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” movie, is a production coordinator for this one.

Following a typical formula, a group of students (Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz, Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams and Anna Hutchison) embark on a trip to…(wait for it)… a cabin in the woods to partake in a weekend of merriment.

There’s the tough guy athlete, the promiscuous girl, the smart dude, the stoner and the virgin. I know, we’ve all seen them before in dozens of films but go with me on this one.

When the group stops for gas and directions along the way a creepy attendant warns them that getting there isn’t the problem but coming back is. Something just isn’t right at the cabin and before too long they all, well the one’s who are left anyway, will discover the truth.

Here are my thoughts on “The Cabin In The Woods”. Although I’ll be careful not to give away too much I am still posting a “Spoiler Alert”. So, read on at your own risk:

What I Liked:

1. Kristen Connolly: When I first saw her in the opening scenes it quickly reminded me what I loved most about these types of movies. She has an amazing quality to her that entices you to keep watching.

2. The secret behind the cabin: Without giving anything away, the reason is pretty cool and something we haven’t seen before in horror.

3. The shout out to REO Speedwagon, one of my all time favorite bands. Very cool and very in your face.

4. The use of the “formula”: Although I don’t condone it, it was kind of funny to see the recreational drug use, brief nudity and funny one-liners again from people scared out of their wits. All staples of the 80’s films.

What I didn’t like:

1. The cinematography: It’s dark outside. I get that. But there were many scenes in this movie where I couldn’t tell what was going on. Not because I couldn’t follow the plot but because I couldn’t physically “SEE” it on the screen. It was even hard to discern what types of weapons were being used at times.

2. CGI: The use of this was a bit over the top at times and sort of changed the dynamic from a horror film to more like a comic book.

3. The Use of The “F” Word: Ok, maybe I’m nit-picking here a bit but c’mon, is there really a need to yell at a TV screen and say it a bunch of times in a row? Sometimes I think this is done just to help promote the “R” rating.

Fans of classic horror slasher films and those longing for new take on it will love “The Cabin in The Woods”. If for no better reason than to discover the secret it holds.

Experience The Devil’s Carnival

“Step right up and don’t be shy. Because you will not believe your eyes.”

The classic line that begins an old Tubes song is also the perfect introduction for The Devil’s Carnival, a musical movie-going experience unlike any you’ve ever seen.

Director Darren Bousman (“SAW” as well as the upcoming “Mother’s Day” remake) along with writer Terrance Zdunich (“Repo! The Genetic Opera“) are literally taking their demonic show on the road stopping at various locations across the United States. It’s a horror-musical experience not to be missed.

Featuring three stories based on familiar Aesop fables but set in the fiery pit itself, the movie includes such stars as Briana Evigan (“Step it Up 2”, “Mother’s Day”), Paul Sorvino (“GoodFellas”), Bill Moseley (“The Devil’s Rejects”) and J. LaRose (“SAW”).

But “The Devil’s Carnival” is much more than just a movie. It’s an interactive experience for fans to be a part of. Complete with live entertainment, celebrity sightings, give-aways and a question and answer session with the creators themselves.

I was fortunate to be able to speak with Darren and Terrance as they made their way into Atlanta for yet anther stop on the tour. I also had the opportunity to speak with the amazing Briana Evigan, (who plays Ms. Merrywood) and get her thoughts on what people can expect to see from “The Devil’s Carnival”.

Darren Bousman (Director):

gJg: Darren, what’s the reaction from The Devil’s Carnival Tour been like so far?

DB: It’s great. There’s really no way to describe it. It’s part rock concert, part side-show and part movie-screening. By doing it in this way you get such a great reaction from fans. Much more so than if you were doing just a regular movie screening.

gJg: What makes the experience so unique?

DB: Every night there’s some sort of live performance, whether it be burlesque or freak or men juggling knives. It’s just crazy and the crowd goes wild for these things.

gJg: Why did you decide do it as an “experience” and not just a typical screening?

DB: The market has been so over-saturated with film makers, directors and movies that it’s become so hard to find a release for anything. When I started off doing “SAW” I had 3,000 – 4,000 screens. Then with each subsequent release I lost more and more screens. My last movie only saw something like 6 screens.

So you spend years of your life working on something and it’s basically shown on a half-dozen screens. It makes you want to just sit in the bathtub with a bottle of vodka and cry yourself to sleep.

But instead, I just said, “Screw It!” I wasn’t going to allow myself to follow the trend of making movies that go straight to DVD or movies that no one ever sees. If I don’t get the reaction I want out of the people who put my movies out then I’m just going to do it myself. So we just decided to get in a van and do this tour.

gJg: So what’s the premise of “The Devil’s Carnival”?

DB: That’s a hard question to answer. The Devil’s Carnival asks the question: “Can you get people to get off their couches and go experience something that is undefinable?”

The entire Devil’s Carnival is a 2 1/2 hour experience. Part of it is the movie, part of it is a live show, part of it is give-aways and part of it is a behind the scenes “Repo” documentary.

Now if you ask what the movie is, it’s a hybrid of “Tales from The Crypt” meets the anti -“Glee”. I’ve always been fascinated with the macabre. I love dark stories and I also love musicals. So it’s kind of like mixing the dark macabre stories in a musical based format. It’s actually three different stories that are being told in hell. The wrap around is these crazy carnies and Lucifer himself.

But unlike “Tales From The Crypt”, this film has a linear structure. It’s a modern retelling of Aesop fables set in hell. We’re doing the classic “Scorpion and the Frog” but its done in a modernized, over the top, grandiose kind of way.

gJg: What are your plans for it after the tour is over?

DB: We’d really like to start work on episode two. This is the first part of many others we hope to be doing. We really want to make an impact and get people talking about it. If that happens, we’d love to start filming part two right away.

What’s really exciting about this project is that there’s instant gratification for me as a film maker. Take “Mother’s Day” as an example. I LOVE that film. I made it three years ago and it’s still sitting on a shelf somewhere. It’s finally going to be released but it just killed me that for years it just sat on a shelf. 

What’s great about this is that I control my own fate. We booked the theaters.  We booked the hotels. We bought and printed and sell the merchandise. We did everything. There’s no one out side of us who’s doing anything and that’s awesome.

So if it fails it’s because of us. If it fails it’s because we did not do our jobs correctly and I’ll have no one to point the finger at. I can’t blame the big, bad studio or anyone else. It’s our fault. By that same token, if it succeeds it’s also because of us. It’s because of our passion and our drive.

It’s a scary position to be in but i love it.

gJg: It’s total control.

DB: Exactly.

gJg: You’ve also brought back a lot of people from “Repo! The Genetic Opera” for this film as well.

DB: We did. We brought back Paul Sorvino, Bill Moseley, Alexa Vega, Ogre from Skinny Puppy. Oh, and my favorite by far is J LaRose who plays “Major” – he’s in the car with me right now and just reminded me that he was in “Repo!” too.

What’s cool is that I find people who I like to work with. We’re like a family. A very dysfunctional family, but a family none-the-less.

gJg: “Mother’s Day” with Rebecca De Mornay is finally being released. Is there anything you’d like to say about it?

DB: Yes, it comes out this Mother’s Day on a handful of screens and then on DVD the following week. I also have “11-11-11” which is going to be released on DVD so watch for that was well.  

Terrance Zdunich (Writer)

gJg: Hey Terrance, it’s great to speak with you.

TZ: You too. Sorry for the way I sound. Darren and I are literally in a van driving across the country right now.

gJg: How did the story for “The Devil’s Carnival” come about for you?

TZ: I wrote the screen play and co-wrote the music with my writing partner Saar Hendelman. As a fan, I like to write about things that I’d want to see and especially with the shortage in the dare I say, sophisticated “horror musical” market.

For me, It was inspired by amusement park dark rides. As I kid I really enjoyed hopping on those rides that also involved music. That’s sort of where “The Devil’s Carnival” began. Then it just grew on that over the last couple of years to what it is now.

gJg: What’s your musical background?

TZ: Music has always been a big part of my life. My Dad played guitar. When I was in grade school and high school I was in the marching band. I’ve also played in rock and roll bands and did some musical theater for quite a while.

I guess in a way you could say that I’m returning to my marching band roots with “The Devil’s Carnival” because it involves primarily a sort of demonic marching band. There’s no electronic instrumentation in it what so ever.

gJg: I asked Darren this question so I’ll ask you too: Why is this an “experience” and not just a film?

TZ: It came down to the fact that we really wanted to do it and projects like this just aren’t getting green lighted. We didn’t want to wait or ask permission and get approval for it so we decided on this road tour idea instead.

Right now, we’re doing what we like and the fans are responding to it! It’s pretty exciting. The film stands well on it’s on but the experience of it is really the main event.

gJg: And you get to play the ultimate bad guy in this one.

TD: Yeah, but I think in some ways Lucifer is the good guy in a round about sort of way. <laughs>

gJg: Really?

TZ: He’s not passing judgement because that’s already been made by Heaven. He’s really just holding the fun-house mirror up the sinners who’ve arrived at his gates and giving them a chance to learn and change.

Certainly the games are rigged but he’s not necessarily the ultimate bad-guy in this story.

gJg: What’s the plan once “The Devil’s Carnival” tour is over? Will the movie be released on DVD?

TZ: Eventually. We’re trying to determine the best way to release it. Ideally, we want it to be just as unique as the project and tour are. We really want the format we release it in to be an experience as well.

We’ve also written the second episode and do envision having it as an ongoing series. Whether its like a concert tour a few times a year where we unveil a new episode or sort of like a small Lolapalooza or Blue Man group….Well, a RED man group in this case..<laughs>

Briana Evigan (Ms. Merrywood)

gJg: Hey Briana.

BE: Hey, what’s going on?

gJg: I wanted to get the scoop about this movie because it looks so good!

BE: I’m so pumped about it. I love it.

gJg: Tell me a little bit about how the role of Ms. Merrywood came about for you?

BE: Well, Darren had called me up. I had loved working with him in the past so immediately said yes. I didn’t have any insecurities or confidence issues going in which was very cool. It just left an open book for me to play.

And of course, once i saw the wardrobe I pretty much knew what I was going to do. <laughs>

gJg: You get to sing in the movie too!

BE: I do! I started off my career as a musician and a dancer and actually do music on the soundtracks for each film that I’m a part of. What’s cool about this project though is that I actually get to sing in the movie as well as on the soundtrack. It was so much fun to do a bigger than life kind of song and character. It’s definitely different from anything I’ve ever done before.

gJg: What’s your favorite part of the movie?

BE:  With my character it’s got to be the whole singing part. Of course, watching Terrance as the Devil was pretty amazing too!

gJg: How has the whole “experience” of “The Devil’s Carnival” been for you as opposed to a typical movie premiere?

BE: Really cool. It’s busy because you’re meeting people left and right. It’s almost like being on auto pilot. Very surreal. You get the whole carnival kind of vibe too. It’s a lot of fun.

gJg: Putting you on the spot here: If you had to describe “The Devil’s Carnival” experience in three words, what would they be?

BE: Twisted, Exciting and Fun!

For more information on “The Devil’s Carnival” experience and tour click here.

Article first published as Experience The Devil’s Carnival on Technorati.

Ghost Rider 2: Movie Review

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.