Australian Council on Children and the Media

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

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Not suitable under 13, PG to 15 (Violence, Disturbing scenes, Coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
  • a review of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 20 March 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence, disturbing scenes and coarse language
Children aged 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Supernatural themes, violence and infrequent coarse language
Length 96 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, the sequel to the 2007 Ghost Rider film, begins with a group of heavily armed hi-tech mercenaries lead by Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth)  attacking a fortress-like monastery somewhere in Eastern Europe. The attack is aimed at capturing a young boy Danny (Fergus Riordan) and his mother Nadya (Violante Placido), who are being given sanctuary. Apparently years earlier Nadya made a deal with the devil, who appeared before her in the guise of a man called Roarke (Ciaran Hinds), that she would bear him a son in exchange for her life. Roarke now wants his son to perform a satanic ritual that must take place in a few days time.

Nadya manages to escape with the help of a gun wielding monk named Moreau (Idris Elba). Moreau then approaches Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage), who has been hiding out in an abandoned town in Eastern Europe. He offers Johnny a deal- protect Danny and his mother for the next few days from Roarke and his minions and the Church will lift your curse.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The supernatural; demonic possession; making deals with the Devil

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains intense fantasy action violence with frequent shooting, explosions and death. Much of the violence is cartoon-like, with minimal depiction of blood and gore, but it is more intense in 3D. The film does contain some more realistic violence, some of it enacted against a child. Examples include:

  • Monks are attacked by mercenaries who shoot and kill all that cross their paths (no blood and gore is depicted). We see one man pointing a gun at a monk’s head and then shooting the monk at close range (the fatal wounding occurs off camera). A monk is thrown over a balcony, falling to his death (we do not see him hit the ground). The men shoot at Nadya and her thirteen-year-old son Danny but they escape uninjured.
  • Nadya shoots a number of men without remorse.
  • In one scene we see Nadya being rough-handled by a man and forced to the ground with her arms behind her back and then hit over the head with a gun.
  • Danny is thrown down on the ground and then is knocked out by having his head bashed into a car door.
    Roarke injects Danny in the neck with a hypodermic syringe causing him to fall unconscious.
  • Ghost Rider hurls flaming chains to cut through and incinerate his enemies with one sweeping fling. He also grabs his victims by the head, causing their heads to explode in flames. The Ghost Rider appears impervious to all attacks, although we see him riddled with machinegun bullets and blown up by grenades and missiles.
  • There are several flashback scenes ofbattles including shooting, bombing and blood splattered soldiers.
  • A man places a cell phone next to Danny’s ear. The boy listens, then screams out and falls to the ground unconscious.
  • A monk holding a sword forces Danny to kneel on the ground and rest his head on a stone block. The monk raises his sword to behead Danny, but is stopped by a demon.
  • After Carrigan is givensupernatural powers, he kills numerous people by causing their flesh to instantly rot and then turn to ash.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of eight, including the following:

  • When Johnny Blaze transforms into the Ghost Rider he appears as a flaming skull-headed demon.  In one scene, while riding his motorbike we see Johnny transforming back and forth between the Ghost Rider and himself while he laughs maniacally. In another scene we see Johnny lying on the ground convulsing with clouds of black smoke and black chains spewing from his mouth as he tries to rid himself of the Ghost Rider demon.
  • The character Roarke has a creepy appearance with a face that appears abnormal.
  • Part way through the film, the devil changes Carrigan into the demon of decay and darkness. He takes on a corpse-like appearance with long white hair, white skin and blue veins, black eyes and rotting teeth. We see vivid images of Carrigan’s victims decaying and turning to dust or leaving crumbling stone-like statues behind.
  • In one scene, Danny vomits fire from his mouth into Johnny Blaze’s face.
  • Danny jumps from a wall landing badly and we hear the sound of his ankle breaking.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

The film contains some sexual references:

  • A business man approaches Nadya and asks her if she is a gypsy (meaning prostitute).He states that he has lots of money; Nadya’s son intervenes and the man quickly leaves.
  • We see Nadya dying from wounds and hear the voice of a man (the devil) asking her if she wants to make a deal. It is inferred that Nadya bore the devil a son.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some cartoon nudity and brief, mild sexual activity in this movie. Examples include:

  • We see cartoon images of Johnny Blaze displaying his buttocks during a motorbike stunt.
  • A man tries to roughly kiss Nadya on the mouth and she pushes him away.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • In several scenes we see Moreau drinking from a small flask and also wine from bottles. In one scene reference is made to Moreau being an alcoholic; Moreau never appears intoxicated.
  • While in hospital recovering from injuries, Johnny Blaze asks a nurse for morphine and valium but is refused. He steals several bottles of pills from a medical cabinet and we see him pouring a number of pills into his mouth.
  • Roarke injects Danny in the neck, rendering him unconscious.

Coarse language

There is coarse language scattered throughout the film. Examples include:

  • bare-arsed, pain in the arse, take a piss, god damn,  kind of a dick, makes my balls hurt, shit, jack arse, sons of a bitch, arsehole, little turd, worst fucking deal

In a nutshell

Ghost Rider: Spirit of vengeance is an action fantasybased on a Marvel Comics character.It targets a male adolescent audience and the film’s special effects and computer generated images should appeal to that audience. Parents are advised to take note of the film’s M rating. The film is darker and more menacing than the previous Ghost Rider film and is too violent and scary for under 13s, particularly as it portrays a young boy as a victim of violence. The 3D effects add to the intensity. It also contains coarse language which children may imitate.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • It is not our environment or genetics that determines who or what we become. We have free will and choices.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Selflessness and self sacrifice as displayed by Johnny in his decision to continue as the Ghost Rider
  • Unconditional love: Danny’s mother displays unconditional love towards placing his needs above her own and never giving up on him.

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