Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Neveldine/Taylor: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Nicolas Cage, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Columbia Pictures, 2012.

Blazing off the screen with a juvenile passion that is insurmountable, tech wizards Neveldine and Taylor deliver their fourth feature film, a sequel to Mark Steven Johnson's guilty pleasure Ghost Rider. Being a superhero film, albeit a dark one, we are exposed to all the usual plot tropes, as in the first outing.

Whereas screenwriter cum director Johnson relied more on constructing subtext via the tools of his trade, character and dialoge, Neveldine/Taylor concoct an entirely visual world of free interpretation and genre deconstruction. Their obsession with movement, perspective, and form is fascinating. Their vision has fueled a cheezy, fun Spring actioner which improves on the original. Their grasp of 3-D is startling, as if they'd invented the gimmick.

Nicolas Cage reprises his role, his hammy instincts on high. The visual effects remain mostly unconvincing, but it all lends itself to the distinct aura of Saturday matinee. In the margins, we can revel at the overlooked artistry of Neveldine/Taylor, who hold the detritus together through their visual dynamisn and stylish panache. Transforming the pedestrian into at least a porsche driver, these guys are two of America's best action auteurs.

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