Crazy Things People Did For Love

February 16, 2012 by staff 

Crazy Things People Did For Love, In “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,” Nicolas Cage punches Satan. He punches Satan in THE FACE.

Playing Ghost Rider, Cage also saves a little boy and helps people and does some other heroic stuff. But no matter what he does, the character will never be as beloved as Batman and Superman. Ghost Rider doesn’t get cheering crowds or parades. The character of Johnny Blaze – a motorcycle stuntman who turns into a flaming skeleton and sucks the souls out of people – isn’t even a superhero, really. He’s more of a man possessed, which is why the role suits Cage so well.

Unlike other upcoming Marvel Comics film adaptations such as “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Avengers,” which are due in the summer accompanied by an avalanche of hype, “Spirit of Vengeance” is riding into theaters Friday, in the middle of winter, without screening in advance for critics. That’s the same stealth approach Columbia Pictures used when they released the first “Ghost Rider” film in 2007. The reviews, when they appeared, were scathing. On the Internet, where geek culture reigns supreme, the movie was heartily ridiculed.

But “Ghost Rider” earned $228 million worldwide. That was enough to convince Cage – a diehard comic-book fan who named his son Kal-El, was once set to play Superman for director Tim Burton and appeared in the superhero satire “Kick-Ass” as the proud papa of a 12 year-old assassin – to give the role another shot.

“Spirit of Vengeance” was directed by the filmmaking duo of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (“Crank,” “Gamer”) in their usual breakneck, I-can’t-believe-what-I-just-saw style. The movie boasts some sensational 3-D effects, nifty nightmarish imagery and a curious sense of humor – not quite camp, but definitely in the same neighborhood. Early in the film, for example, there’s a scene in which an injured Blaze tries to convince a hospital nurse to give him some morphine. He explains that he transformed into a monster the night before. She assumes he’s nuts. “No, man, I’m not hallucinating!” Blaze shouts at her in a blast of unhinged lunacy. “Look, I’m flirting with you!”

Cage’s face lights up when you bring up that line. It’s a throwaway moment in a movie packed with gigantic action set pieces, elaborate chases, Satan worshippers and tattooed monks. But the scene is also the kind of small, bizarre beat Cage grooves on.

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