While you’ll have to wait until Friday for my full review of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D, I’ll at the very least tell you that it has little in common with its predecessor aside from the title and the casting of Nicolas Cage. It’s a completely different aesthetic, so much so that the film is almost in a different genre than the first one.
Most of that has to do with Directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Crank, Gamer, Crank 2). Working from a script by David Goyer, they fashion the franchise into something that is unmistakably their own.
“In the successor to the worldwide hit ‘Ghost Rider,’ Johnny – still struggling with his curse as the devil’s bounty hunter – is hiding out in a remote part of Eastern Europe when he is recruited by a secret sect of the church to save a young boy (Fergus Riordan) from the devil (Ciaran Hinds). At first, Johnny is reluctant to embrace the power of the Ghost Rider, but it is the only way to protect the boy – and possibly rid himself of his curse forever.”
I recently had a chance to sit down with the two collaborators in a New York City hotel room for a chat over coffee. Their enthusiasm and love for what they do is readily apparent and the conversation flowed freely from the new film to their take on what may have happened with the troubled Jonah Hex to Crank 3, which they hope to have in theaters next year.
Ghost Rider 2: Spirit Of Vengeance 3D hits theaters on February 17th. It stars Nicolas Cage, Ciaran Hinds, Violante Placido, Idris Elba and Johnny Whitworth.
Hit the jump to check out the interview!
So they told me this was shot in 3D last night, but I’ve also heard that it’s post-converted. Which is it? It looks better than most post-conversions…
Neveldine: It’s post-converted.
Taylor: But it looks good, doesn’t it?
Yes. It’s not all blurry like most post-converts.
Taylor: If you didn’t know that it was, you could never tell. The problem people have with post-conversion is when it’s done too fast by directors that don’t care. You take Clash Of The Titans. There was a lot of backlash on that.
Neveldine: They rushed it for a release date.
Taylor: And also Letterier was very public about saying, “I don’t care about 3D. I had nothing to do with the 3D and I don’t like it.” That’s why that film looks the way it looks. We did a lot of research, studied it very intensively. We know everything about shooting in 3D and we know everything about conversion. We knew exactly what we could get out of it and we went through it pixel by pixel and broke it down. We think the 3D in the movie is as good as anything you’d see in a film that was shot that way.
Neveldine: And, as a matter of fact, we didn’t acquire one frame in 3D.
Taylor: And by the way a lot of the movies they say are shot in 3D [really aren’t]. They might have had a 3D camera there, but you’ll never know how much of it was post-converted.
And you guys do a lot of kinetic handheld stuff, which might not work so well for actually shooting in 3D.
Taylor: How’s Mark going to hold a 3D camera on rollerblades?
Neveldine: I could, but then I’m concerned about breaking two cameras instead of one. Too much insurance and too many people b*tching about it. As far as this film, we didn’t have the budget or the time to shoot in 3D.
Taylor: We’re punk rock filmmakers.
Neveldine: And why are we going to change our style suddenly when we get the chance to do our first big movie? F*ck that.
Taylor: You bring these big 3D rigs onset and you have NASA control sitting behind you and that just doesn’t just work for us.
Neveldine: Did you see the movie here?
I did. They were serving drinks so I had a couple of cocktails, put on my 3D glasses and sat in the front row.
Taylor: That’s kind of the best way to see Ghost Rider. Even for the 13 year olds.
This movie certainly has a lot of kills for a PG13.
Taylor: We found a good tip if you want to make a violent movie and still get that rating. You can burn as many people as you want.
Neveldine: As long as you don’t show blood while doing it.
And you can rot them.
Taylor: Yeah, burning and rotting is okay.
But no sex.
Neveldine: Unfortunately. Everything the Ghost Rider rides gets hellified and they took the scene out where he rides the woman.
Was that in there at one point?
Neveldine: Only in our heads.
Taylor: We saved it up. Maybe for Crank 3.
In terms of story, this feels like a totally different genre than the first one.
Neveldine: I’ve never seen the first movie. It has nothing to do with it, really. It has to do with Goyer’s script that he wrote before Ghost Rider 1. He wrote it back in 2000. It was about his script and us getting onboard, finding a new flavor and starting from scratch. Disregarding the first movie.
And you’ve got Idris Elba playing way against type!
Neveldine: That guy is just loaded with charisma. The French accent, everything, he just came in with it. He isn’t afraid to be a big, broad movie star in this. He just owns it.
Taylor: Same thing with Ciaran Hinds.
Neveldine: He’s played bad guys before, but he wanted to have fun in this.
Taylor: That guy’s face is just…
It’s a canvas
Taylor: It is a canvas.
Neveldine: If you turn the camera on and put it on him, you’re gonna get gold.
Taylor: And I’m almost certain he did all of his own stunts.
Neveldine: You’re right.
Taylor: He didn’t want to at first, but we convinced him to try it and he just killed it. And he went on to do everything else. He did his own wirework, the falls, the pulls, getting punched off his feet. He killed it.
Did you discuss bringing him onto Crank 3?
Neveldine: If Idris, Nic or Ciaran wanted to be in it we’d take all of them in a second!
What’s the status of that?
Neveldine: We’re gonna do it. We’re talking to Statham about it. It’s gonna happen, no question. Probably in 2013.
Taylor: It’s Crank’s destiny to be a trilogy.
I understad if you don’t want to talk about it, but Jonah Hex…?
Neveldine: We’ll talk about it. It’s one of our favorite scripts we’ve ever written. But we were off the project well before it was in pre-production. We loved it but they had to do something else with it.
Taylor: And our script for that movie was a Hard-R. It was really intense and gnarly. But what we wrote, ultimately was not want they wanted. But we love that character. In some ways he’s the Ghost Rider of the DC Universe. A dark, edgy fringe character.
Neveldine: It’s weird that our names are on it. According to the WGA it has to be changed 51% by the subsequent writer for them to have their name on it, and it was changed at least that much. Just no one took credit for it.
Taylor: There were a lot of really cool people involved with that movie. Malkovich, Brolin, our editor. And a lot of the people at Warner Brothers were fantastic. It’s hard to go back and re-trace what happened.
Neveldine: We’d love to do an ‘R” movie with Warner Brothers some day.
How was shooting this film in Romania?
Neveldine: We had only one member from our original crew, our DP. That was it. Everyone else was new, so that was a giant learning curve both for them and for us.
Taylor: They don’t have unions over there. The culture over there is to beat, threaten and intimidate people until you get what you were want. And that was not our culture at all. We came in with a completely different attitude, we treat our crew like brothers. It was interesting to see what their idea of a movie was.
Neveldine: It was like American special forces getting dropped into Afghanistan and training insurgents.
Taylor: It was as punk rock of a film as anything we’ve ever done. Including Crank 2.