January 27, 2012

World's Darkest Hero Rides Again in "Ghost Rider" Sequel


He fought the curse. Now, a new evil will make Johnny Blaze embrace his power. This February, the world’s darkest hero rides again in Warner Bros.’ supernatural action-thriller “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.” Starring Nicolas Cage, the film is directed by Neveldine/Taylor – also known as Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor – who have earned a cult following with their stylish and edgy films, including “Crank” and “Gamer.”

Neveldine explains that the directors were excited to approach their new film for two major reasons. “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to direct a franchise film with Nicolas Cage, and, second, to work with this really cool, edgy, comic book series – I mean, this dude has a flaming skull and kicks major ass,” says Neveldine. “I think the studio wanted to do something edgier with this franchise, so our attitude and style of filmmaking fit perfectly with the tone they were hoping to see. We were all on the same page.”

With a free hand to give the film that edgy tone, the directors could let their imaginations run wild. “The only thing we knew we wanted to keep from the first film was Nick Cage. We wanted to change everything else – the way he looks, the way he dresses, the bike. We wanted souls to be burned and dragged to hell. And lucky for us, the studio said, ‘That’s great; that’s what we were hoping you’d say.’ And that became the start of our process. What we were really going for is a mood, a feeling, an aesthetic – to make him badass.”

That process continued all the way through production, as Neveldine and Taylor employ a kinetic style both in front of and behind the camera, as Cage explains. “The energy of making this film was a different experience,” says the actor. “It’s a much more wild, almost daredevil experience – even the way Mark Neveldine shoots. He’s like a stuntman, risking his life hundreds of times, hanging off of wires or shooting while skating on Rollerblades – he’s a very active, macho filmmaker. Fans are going to be blown away by the photography and Mark, Brian and (Director of Photography) Brandon Trost’s daredevil camerawork.”

Describing their intense set experience, Neveldine says, “At the end of the day, we have to get the performance and the shots, and we’ll get them any way we can. You’ll see us hanging off of cars and shooting on Rollerblades to push the cinematic envelope.”

Where other directors might choose to create the Ghost Rider’s world inside a computer, Neveldine/Taylor capture as much as they can practically. “We use real stunt guys and real motorcycle action – though we did set the guy’s head on fire in the computer afterwards,” says Taylor. “We think it makes for a better, more visceral experience for the viewer if they’re seeing something real.”
Editor Brian Berdan, who worked with the directors on Crank, says, “They are so creative; it’s all hand-held and intuitive and not totally planned out. That liveliness of a hand-held camera and someone with the sense of what to do with it makes it all really come to life. It can be a challenge to edit, because you get a ton of footage – some of which makes you initially think, ‘I can’t do anything with this,’ and then the camera will come in at just the right point and you grab exactly what you need!”

It’s a style that Cage relishes. “They have this gonzo energy, this wild intensity – they’re both really up for anything. I think I fit into that, too.”
“We were excited for our tone and dark humor to leak into the project,” says Neveldine. “At the same time, it was important to keep it grounded and hard-hitting.”

Opening across the Philippines on Feb. 16, “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

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