New 'Ghost Rider' Trailers: Can This One Ignite The Franchise?

Check out these first two trailers for Sony's February Marvel reboot of "Ghost Rider" and tell us: does it look like the franchise has been saved?

For those who missed the 2007 attempt at bringing "Ghost Rider" to the big screen, here's the quick-and-dirty that leads up to "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance": Nicolas Cage plays Johnny Blaze, a mouthy stunt motorcycle rider who performs alongside his father in a local carnival.

One night, he trades his soul to the devil Mephistopheles in exchange for sparing his cancer-afflicted dad.

When Barton Blaze dies in a performance accident the next day and Johnny tries skipping town, Mephistopheles catches up with him and curses Johnny to serve as "The Rider" and gather souls on his behalf.

Years later, Johnny discovers just what he's gotten himself into: when the sun goes down and he's in the presence of people with guilty souls, he transforms into a leather-and-spikes-clad, motorcycle-riding skeleton with its head on fire and a deadly chain for a weapon.

In this sequel/reboot, Blaze (played once more by Cage) has made his way to Europe to try and flee his curse. However, he's tracked down and enlisted to save a kidnapped boy that's otherwise seemingly meant to become the Antichrist.

This opinion will probably be in the minority, since I really didn't think "Ghost Rider" was that bad and I'm not sure how once ranked it the worst comic-book movie of the decade when it was released in the same decade as "The Hulk," "Elektra" and two "Fantastic Four" movies: this one looks OK.

Rumor has been that this one will barely reference events from the first movie. It will help if Ghost Rider is played less for laughs this time around, and if audiences can ignore elitist critics' remarks. The early reviews from a screening at the annual Butt-Numb-A-Thon Film Festival haven't been encouraging. Critics dogged on the first for its Satanic references and Ghost Rider being a "judgemental" character.

To the latter: don't review the movie if you're not going to become at least passingly familiar with the source material. That's what the character is: a judgemental demon.

The former? Always take fan-boy venom with a grain of salt. If this can take Cage's Blaze and make him into a man grappling with a curse's place in his identity - like Edward Norton did in "The Hulk" or Wesley Snipes in "Blade" - this could very well be an improvement.

If nothing else, it's just a big, dumb-fun kind of action movie - fire-pissing superhero and all. Don't read so much into it. Or, y'know, make up your own mind when it hits theaters Feb. 17, 2012 in both conventional and 3D formats.