Tag Archives: english actor

Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance

The second I saw this trailer in theaters and Ghost Rider is pissing fire, I lost my mind. First, I am a huge Nicholas Cage fan and love all of his work, good or bad. Second, I am a huge fan of the Ghost Rider comics. And this movie came up just at the right time. The first one didn’t do it for me. It gave me a small taste of the Ghost Rider I’m familiar with from the comics, but wasn’t true enough. This one, thankfully, redeemed that for me a bit.

In this installment of what I hope turns into a yearly thing, Ghost Rider is back. With a vengeance. Etc., etc., etc. And this time, Johnny Blaze is trying to hold back his powers. Knowing that, if he unleashes them, The Rider will kill those he loves and hates, Blaze must hold back the demon. This works for a time but soon, his powers are needed to save the world.

Nic Cage is back, with a more badass bike.

At the start of this film, in a nondescript location, Moreau (Idris Elba) is a drunken vigilante priest set out to warn a castle full of monks that they are no longer safe and cannot protect a young boy named Danny (Fergus Riordan) who is said to have the Devil within him. He must be kept from evil before the day of reckoning, and, of course, that’s not gonna happen. A swat-like takedown ensues and Danny and his mother Nadya (Violante Placido) are forced to leave the safety of the castle. Moreau performs a dastardly move and protects Nadya and Danny for a while.

Guilty.

Meanwhile, after Moreau escapes from his lofty predicament, he seeks out the help of Johnny Blaze, The Ghost Rider (Nicholas Cage). Confining himself to a shed in the middle of Europe somewhere, Blaze vows never to allow his powers to be used again. When told of Danny’s situation and the promise that Moreau can help remove his powers, Blaze agrees to let The Rider out one more time.

Nadya and Danny are on the run from Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth), a no good gun runner and overall punk who is in league with Rourke, The Devil (Ciaran Hinds). He is successful in kidnapping him a number of times and it is up to Moreau, Nadya and Blaze to save him before it’s too late.

How is this drunk man driving?

I was more impressed with this movie more than the other one. Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman, and David S. Goyer wrote a better script/plot that allowed for more elements of The Ghost Rider universe to enter. Johnny Blaze’s conflicted feelings come into effect in this movie. Although Peter Fonda didn’t come back for Mephistopheles (The Devil), Rourke was a poor substitute. Hinds’ decrepit body was no appeal for a diabolical devil. Blackout was a good addition to the series, although the decaying thing isn’t really a part of it, and Blackout is more a factor in the Danny Ketch/Ghost Rider series. Including Danny as a suggestion for the continuation for the Marvel Knight’s Ghost Rider was exciting, but that Fergus kid was a strange one.

Good old Johnny Whitworth is back!

The writers got most of the powers right, and even added a new one. Leaving out the Penance Stare was a bit disappointing and I really enjoyed that in the last film. But what was cool about this one was the ability for The Rider to create any vehicle into a Hellfire machine. I know it’s not true to the comics, but the CG suggestion of it was pretty badass. What they should have brought in was The Rider’s shotgun which projects hellfire. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

I think where most people got hung up on this movie was Nic Cage’s performance. His performance comes off as over the top manic, and, if he had toned it down, things may have gone over better. His age is also a factor in the movies. A much younger Johnny Blaze probably would’ve been better. And the “Cage stigma” on the film probably stigmatizes the whole thing, but hey, as least it was a more truthful approach to Ghost Rider.

A little bit of the Nic Cage madness.

Other than the Cage’s acting, I was impressed with Idris Elba’s performance in this movie. This English actor badass from the 5th season of The Office as Charles Miner and his hit/award winning show Luther, his acting really attempted to tie down the movie in a more dramatic superhero style. Violante Placido wasn’t bad, although hard to pinpoint where she was coming from in this movie. The most exciting part for me in this movie was the return of Johnny Whitworth to my knowledge in the film world. After having not seen him since The Rainmaker, I was happy to see his good lookin’ mug again. And Ciaran Hinds just came across as some decrepit pedophile, no thanks to a strangeness in his character’s lines.

Get a taste of them comics, G.R. fans.

Other than that, I’m glad that The Rider returned. And Nicholas Cage thought, “Hey, I’ll reprise the role and give the people a show.” With a darker outlook on the Ghost Rider series, I really appreciated this one more than the other. And hope for more. Much more. This Ghost Rider gets a 7.5 out of 10.

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The Rite

I gotta tell you, I’m a sucker for exorcist/devil related films. Any horror movie that tries new ways to prove the Devil walks the earth, I’m on board with believing it. These movies are usually more frightening than gore/slasher/paranormal films. Why? There are a lot of people out there who pray for their immortal souls. Why? Because demons and the Devil himself walk among us, waiting to corrupt us and enter our bodies. In The Rite’s case, no human being is an exception. We are all judge and condemned by spiritual forces. By God himself.

Now, I’m a realist. But I love losing myself in movies like this. Any preacher/demon interaction scenes give me goosebumps.

Colin O'Donoghue. Didn't know he was Irish...

A good shaking of the faith scene here and there is good too. And I love directors/writers who push the boundaries on exactly what it means to be possessed. Different symbolical entities that manifest themselves in unspeakable ways are always something of an interest of mine. Without a strong biblical background, I love the ways the Bible is used to push the envelope with demons and what they can do on a mortal plane.

But anyways, enough of my obsession with the possessed. This movie follows the religious experiences of one Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue). I’ve not seen this guy in any other films, but I was quite impressed with his “I don’t believe in faith” performance and the scientific approach he took. But Michael has two options in his father Istvan’s (Rutger Hauer) eyes. He can either pursue the life of a mortician or that of a priest/preacher. Choosing the less morbid/path his father didn’t choose, Michael begins his training as a priest.

Michael's first experience with an exorcism.

But his faith has never taken any form in Michael. And so Michael’s religious teacher, Father Matthew (Toby Jones) (Great little performance from a great English actor.) suggests Michael take an exorcism class in Italy. It is here that, with no faith in Father Xavier’s (Ciaran Hinds) teaching, is asked to seek the exorcistic teachings of Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins). And with this, Michael is shown the tricks of the Devil, and the demons in himself he must conquer.

Now, I need to extoll how good Anthony Hopkins performance is. For the first half of the movie, he plays the nonchalant exorcist. This guy goes around curing people of the Devil himself, no big deal. This guy could care less about whether or not Michael believes in the Devil. He plays the carefree teacher who doesn’t care about his pupil. But then, out of nowhere, due to a shaken faith, Anthony Hopkins channels straight Hannibal Lecter. Could not believe where this came from (can’t tell). But you have to watch how amazingly evil Anthony Hopkins becomes. (Interesting note, there’s a mention of a “Welsh priest.” Coincidence that a movie based on true events would include a role with a Welsh older man? Gotta be fate, or gotta be Hopkins.)

Another little kudos for this movie: special effects. There are 3 scenes in which computer graphics are

Anthony Hopkins. Are you scared yet?

employed. That’s it. Everything else: make-up artists/actual tricks of the camera. When a movie can pull of subtle elements of horror without overdoing the special fx function, then it deserves to be noticed. I feel as if this movie was overlooked as far as horror movies go. This movie has a great balance of horror and plot. Something to watch and take stock in. And that’s worth the few intense horror scenes that’re shown. This movie almost felt like it was the prequel/setup for The Exorcist. (Michael Kovak goes to Chicago to be a priest. Coincidence?)

Pray for your sins. The Devil is coming.

Great Italy shots of Rome and Vatican City. Beautiful buildings to function as B-roll between scenes. The buildings looked (could have been?) Actual religious buildings in Vatican City. It was a great visual experience. I give credit to Mikael Hafstrom, the director of this film. Having some horror movies under his belt already, this Swede really has it down in his 13th film. So thank you, all that worked on this exorcism film. It was great. 8.8 out of 10.