Friday night I took a couple of hours off and saw Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance with some of my favorite movie-buddies -- Alan, Bob, and Gus. I took Gus' presence as a good sign, since he'd already seen the film once, and it was still opening day.
This was only my second trip to the movies this year. Should you choose to chide me about my cinematic selections, please remember that I'm not in this to discuss the state of cinema as an art form or as a reflection of our culture. I'm in this to enjoy myself with a bucket of popcorn.
Kate Beckinsale didn't set the bar very high with Underworld: Awakening, so I'm not surprised that Nick Cage cleared that bar with the help of a burning motorcycle. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is my new favorite film of the year, almost by default.
What to say? For a film about a man who has a demon trapped inside him and who must save a boy from becoming the earthly vessel of Satan, it was surprisingly light fare. It was almost silly. I offer the flamethrower gag as evidence.
There were problems with the film, but this time around the Rider's effects were not among them. He looked much more dangerous, and much more "real," right down to the caked, oily residue and the greasy black smoke. But the plot was pretty simple, right down to the predictable "twists" which were more like gentle kinks. There were some holes, too, but we're long past the point where a discussion of consistency within comic-book cinema physics has much to offer other than "if you can't ignore the problem, please refill my popcorn. I think he's about to do that one thing again."
One more thing: we saw the film in 3D, and... well, it wasn't awful. It couldn't hold a candle to last year's Hugo, but that was 3D as art. This was 3D as a burning chain in your face.