Ghost Rider 2 Directors Interview: Cranking Up The Action
Putting the spirit into Vengeance, by Tara Bennett
“We approached the CG pretty punk rock…
We’re hoping it has that visceral impact”
We all know box office doesn’t count for quality. Case in point: 2007’s Ghost Rider. As directed by Mark Steven Johnson and starring Nicholas Cage as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider made $228 million worldwide despite being almost universally panned by critics and given a big “meh” from audiences. Fans of the comic book lamented the lack of real darkness in the film and Cage’s snarky, jelly bean-eating performance. Even though it turned a profit, no one was satisfied (except Sony’s bean counters) and thus the franchise languished looking for fresh, creative blood.
The saviours of the flaming Ghost Rider turned out to be kinetic directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Crank, Crank 2) who also felt the comic book demon needed to be retooled back to its hell-fire roots. Hired to direct the sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance, Neveldine and Taylor brought back Nic Cage to play the demon biker and pushed the story ahead almost a decade. The still-cursed Johnny Blaze is hiding out from the world in Eastern Europe with no interest in connecting to humanity around him until he finds out from the drunken monk Moreau (Idris Elba) that the Devil (Ciarán Hinds) wants a little boy named Danny (Fergus Riordan) so he can come back to Earth.
Not looking to remake what came before, Brian Taylor tells SFX their movie “does hit the ground running. We’ve dropping you into a world with a whole bunch of new characters. Even if you’re really familiar with Marvel comics, you’ve never seen these characters before. We’re asking the audience to just go along with the ride and to find out what’s going on as the movie goes on as we do give our own take on what we thought the origin should have looked like.”
That looks is filmed in the breakneck Neveldine/Taylor style with gritty action sequences that put the directors and their cameras literally in the middle of the action.
Neveldine enthuses, “We wanted to put our stamp on this thing so we hang out of helicopters, we’re on wires 500 feet over a cliff and on rollerblades hanging off of cars; we did all that but that’s we do that on all of our films. We pulled out all the tricks but having a little more money and having better equipment really helped.”
Defending their decision to leave the indie world and take on their first studio picture, Taylor says, “A lot of people get an impression because it’s a Marvel comics movie and it’s Sony that we’ve hit the big time and it’s a whole different kind of filmmaking for us. But let’s be clear, we were in really remote places in Eastern Europe. There was no film infrastructure. It was freezing and we didn’t have a lot of money. We had to pull out all of the tricks. Later when we were back home, we did have all this fun CG stuff to play with that we’ve never really had before. All the film we shot with the same punk rock energy that is the only the way we know how to do it, so we approached the CG pretty punk rock too. We’re hoping it has that visceral impact.”
More of this exclusive interview on the next page…