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February 24th, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Johny Whitworth, Fergus Riordan, Anthony Head, Christopher Lambert, Spencer Wilding, and more.

Directed by: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor Story by: David S Goyer Screenplay by: Scott M Gimple, Seth Hoffman, and David S Goyer Based on: The Marvel Comics Ghost Rider Original Music by: David Sardy

Premise: Johnny Blaze has been running from place to place, trying to deny the demon inside him access to the living world. When he's tracked down by an unusual, motorcycling priest, Johnny is given the first glimmer of hope that his curse could be brought to an end. But in order to get that chance, he has to help a young boy to a special sanctuary to keep him out of the Devil's hands. (Rating: PG-13)

Review: (Going to try a slightly different format this week, so please bear with me. If you like it, do let me know!)

1) Acting - Thumbs Up - Nicolas Cage was good as usual. And he did add just a little extra something during some cool transformation scenes. Enjoyed Idris Elba as Moreau. He was quirky and had just enough going where you couldn't tell if he was a good guy or a bad guy for a while. Violante Placido was convincing and Fergus Riordan was good with snark. It was swell to see Anthony Head and Christopher Lambert as well.


Ciaran Hinds always makes a great bad guy and does not disappoint. Johnny Whitworth was also fun as the unsuspecting baddie who gets a job that ends up involving more than he ever signed up for. Some good snark from him as well.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up - It's one thing to make a person look like a flaming skull with CGI, it's a whole other level to sell it to where it looks real. Special effect guys did an awesome job. A lot of the work was subtle but added up in a big way. They helped sell the effects and the story very well. Things like  the smoke trails to the hell fire, the look of coated brimstone on the Rider's clothes, the cool LOST'esque chittering sounds advertising the Rider's arrival, and the reflection of the Ghost Rider on his target's eyes as he looked into the depths of their souls were a perfect touch to name a few. 


The decomposition sequences were also nicely done. The paper cutouts for the flashbacks with voice over worked well. The giant Hellbagger was too awesome.

3) Plot - Thumbs Up - Simple and convincing, with the occasional unexpected turn. No major hiccups that I saw. The only one that seemed present is actually explained but indirectly. We're left to connect the dots on our own. 


Some minor changes in the background info from the first film, but not enough to give anyone much trouble. 

4) Stunts - Thumbs Up - Done off and on with a combination of special effects, they came across very well. A couple really helped convince the audience they were dealing with supernatural forces while making them still look natural and real. Some nice work here. 


Explosions, car chases, chains, hell fire, gun play, a nice varied platter of fun.

5) Locations/Cinematography - Thumbs Up - Mainly in Romania and Turkey, the locations gave the needed authentication for ancient prophecy, which was a major driving point of the plot. Great panning shots of the different ruins or run down industrial areas were in abundance. Excellent touch ups on the sky views for subtle hints of the forces gathering around them as the time of the prophecy came near.


There were also some lens changes which created funky effects. Add that to some inventive filming and it made for several unique moments.

Conclusion: Overall, it was a fun and fast paced film. Fans of the comics should be well pleased with this new installment. You will also never think of flamethrowers in quite the same way again. I guarantee it. lol.


Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission.

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic
www.gloriaoliver.com

Novels


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The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."



THE PRICE OF MERCY

(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Excerpt:

Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.




CROSS-EYED DRAGON TROUBLES
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“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”

Excerpt:

“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.



WILLING SACRIFICE
(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”

Excerpt:

Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”



IN THE SERVICE OF SAMURAI
(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”

Excerpt:

Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.



VASSAL OF EL
(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”

Excerpt:

Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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