Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance PosterWhen I watched 2007’s film adaptation of the graphic novel Ghost Rider my thoughts on the subject were severely affected by the state of catatonic boredom that I slowly slipped into throughout it’s less than riveting running time.

When I heard that its sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was to be directed by Hollywood upstarts Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor I slipped back into consciousness. Dare I say that I was mildly excited?

Well I shan’t because I wasn’t. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t optimistic. Despite what much of the film world might say, despite all of the reviews and the criticism, I maintain that Neveldine and Taylor are very talented directors. The fact that they can only do one thing doesn’t mean that they don’t do it extremely well. Think of them like Hugh Grant but behind the camera, and a lot less loveably bumbling.

If you are looking for great camerawork and a bit of bonkers dynamism with your face pummeling action then with these two you are usually in the right place. Yes they made the sub-standard Gamer and Jonah Hex and wrote the entirely underwhelming Pathology but don’t let what looks to be a terrible track record fool you. Why? Because they made the Crank films of course…

Now that might seem a rubbish trump card to pull but one thing about the duo’s most insane outings is their uninhibited raw energy. Nowhere else in Hollywood will you find such a frenetic (albeit often very vulgar) assault on your retinas. Their first trailer for the sequel to Ghost Rider promised what everyone had hoped for. A lot of stupid, ridiculous, impressively shot smashing.  The internet lost its collective cool, got a bit over excited and Neveldine/Taylor decided to get their film shown at Ain’t It Cool News’ annual ‘Butt-Numb-a-Thon’ 24 hour film screening event.

That was earlier last month and no one at BNAT really liked it. And they’re the films target audience of self professed geeky nerdy fanboy types…

Such disapproval was met by the studios with an ill-judged jerk of the knee. More precisely they did a large u-turn infusing their latest trailer for the film with all of the ‘emotional’ and ‘character’ stuff that you never wanted or asked for. Now they’ve also released a new poster and it’s more of the same messy mixed messages:

The result not only doesn’t play to the films strengths but makes it all look at bit apologetically naff. I don’t want apologies – I want commitment. If you’re making rubbish know it’s rubbish and thrive on that. The trailer was supposed to be the showreel, it was supposed to show the audience what they want. The poster should be too and one thing I’m sure the audience don’t want is Nicholas Cage looking concerned and thoughtful. I’m willing to bet that the people who walked out of BNAT dissatisfied did not do so because of a lack of emotional involvement with the lead character whether his head was currently on fire on not.

No one wants to see anything to do with the plot, or people talking about the plot or anything remotely approaching an intellect. I don’t want anything at all cerebral from them. Thankfully in a Q&A after the BNAT screening Taylor said as much when stated his wish to add a jokey, animated montage in to the trailer to wink at the audience that the directors didn’t really know what was going on with the story either. Perfect. Why isn’t it in there? Also, why isn’t Cage punching something in the poster? Or kicking something? Or exploding into flames?

Failing dumb head-splitting violence, if I wanted to be emotionally involved with the characters I just flat out wouldn’t go. In that case I’d just bide my time until Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and even then I’d spend the whole film waiting for Mr Darcy to get his moping, grumpy head bitten off, or exploded, preferably whilst on fire.

But it still remains that whether or not the new marketing campaign works it looks to be another mediocre offer from two very promising men. How is it that outside of Crank such seemingly talented guys can’t make a good rollicking Hollywood friendly action film? All they need is a stupid, decent, bare bones story that knows precisely how rubbish it is (think The Transporter) and they’d be away. It’s not too much to ask. Is it?

Source: IMP Awards