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Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Blu-ray Review)

If at first you don’t succeed try again, right? Wait a minute, the first Ghost Rider film grossed almost 230 million dollars worldwide, what do you mean try again? It was a box-office success even though it was garbage. Well, there are forces out there that deemed there be a sequel to the film, or in this case, a re-boot, so there you go. Honestly, I didn’t even know this film was a re-boot, because if you watch it all the way through it plays fine as a sequel. Anyways, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance are directing duo madmen Neveldine/Taylor’s (Crank, Crank 2, Gamer) latest project and first foray into directing-for-hire features. How has the demon biker with flame, skull, and a motorcycle on fire fare this time out? Will it ride off into the darkness as it should or will its flame be extinguished early on? 

Film

Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is back on the bike and ready to take out the trash on the devil’s behalf in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. This is the second film and part of the Marvel Knights banner, which means that it’s harder edge superhero stuff that includes: The Punisher and Blade. It’s not your typical kiddie superhero flick. In this second film Blaze is recruited by a secret organization to seek out an protect a young boy named Danny (Fergus Riordan), before Roarke, The Devil (Ciaran Hinds) gets his hands on him. Danny’s mom, Nadya (Violante Placido), is also by his side and will try to keep him safe from evil. Moreau (Idris Elba) is Johnny’s only friend and partner and he’ll try to do everything he can to try and get Blaze to embrace his curse and use it  against Roarke. Ray aka Blackout (Johnny Whitworth) is on their tail, as he leads a small army across Eastern Europe to try and find the boy.

Was a sequel really needed to further continue the adventures of Ghost Rider? I think so. Ghost Rider is such a badass character that I welcomed the notion of a sequel. My prayers were answered when the hyper-kinetic directing team of Neveldine/Taylor were brought on board to direct. Being a huge fan of the Crank and Gamer films, I thought they’d make a perfect fit for the material. Then again, this is a Marvel property, so the boys were put on a leash of sorts. I remember at Comic-Con they said that the film would be rated R, with them making the sly comment of “fucking your shit up for Valentine’s Day.” What more could the fans want? Well, the film ended up being PG-13, so there went that.

I kept the faith and decided to check out in the theater and thought it was entertaining enough. This caused a bit of a backlash, because some people would tell me that the the first one was better, etc. I disagree wholeheartedly. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is basic in its story concept. It’s a chase film for the most part in which The Devil needs something from someone and Johnny Blaze has to stop them before the end of world happens, which will take all those involved all over Eastern Europe. Why Eastern Europe? It’s cheaper to shoot there than Canada. I thought this incarnation of Ghost Rider was much scarier and creepier than the first one. Cage is actually playing him as opposed to a digital stuntman or double like the first film.

The CGI effects also looked better in this version than the first film. From the crumbling ashes flaking off of Ghost Rider’s jacket to the smoke and fire elements of the skull – it’s top notch. The action scenes and camerawork are also up there in terms of quality. Neveldine/Taylor have always been known for their off the wall action compositions and Spirit of Vengeance continues the trend. Hell, we get to see Ghost Rider in the day time, too!

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance features a couple of cameos. Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV Series) and the Highlander himself, Christopher Lambert. Violante Placido as Nadya is smoking hot, and Whitworth as Blackout is downright slimy. Nicolas Cage brings the bat-shit-insane to the table in small doses throughout and Idris Elba brings a drunk French accent to the mix. Ciaran Hinds brings a dignified presence to the role of The Devil

The question remains: Do you need to see the first film in order to get the second film? That’s a personal choice, but no you don’t. Spirit of Vengeance contains enough back story to fill in the gaps. The marketing materials may tell you otherwise, though.

Video

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is presented in 1080p, 2.40:1. Shot in digital, looks above average. Flesh tones look natural and don’t flush, colors are bold and vibrant and never band. Depending the scene, there are instances of softness and contras boosting throughout, but it was all part of the aesthetic. Edge enhancement was also absent. I did not detect instances of intrusive DNR or crush. The night time sequences looked terrific. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is on fire.

Audio

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1. Here’s a peculiar track that is front driven, for the most part. Dialogue is fully centered and clear. What I noticed was that during certain scenes of peril, the surround channels were quite. Granted, when Ghost Rider comes riding in, rear channels come alive. I guess what I’m trying to say is that non-action scenes have almost ano ambient qualities, but when the action picks up, then shit gets real in the back. It’s still a great mix, but it’s not on the level of Gamer. Gamer had a reference track, but I digress.

 

Extras

Yes, it’s about time! It’s about time that Blu-ray supplement worthy of note made their appearances on a disc for a change. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance contains and AMAZING expanded video commentary by Neveldine/Taylor in which they spill the beans on the making of the film. What’s even cooler is that they don’t even try to defend the film as higher art. They tell you to strap in and have fun while they talk shit throughout the film. They’re hilarious in there sometimes deadpan sarcastic ways of telling you what’s happening onscreen. I thought I was watching Mystery Science Theater 3000! The feature runs about 10-minutes longer than the actual film due to them freeze framing and interacting with what’s going on. Little making-of boxes pop up during certain segments, as well. This expanded commentary is one of the best ever. In addition to the expanded video commentary we get some deleted scenes and how cool is it to see Nicolas Cage with Voodoo skull paint and an LCD helmet wrapped around his head during green screen tests? It’s awesome! This all gets wrapped up in an exhaustive, but entertaining 90-minute documentary covering every single aspect of filming from pre-production to test screenings. Neveldine/Taylor are funny guys.

  • Director’s Expanded Video Commentary
  • The Path to Vengeance – Six-Part Documentary
  • Deleted Scenes

Summary

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is an exciting thrill ride that puts all three Transformers movies to shame. Yeah, I said it. I do wish it would have been rated R, but oh well. I found it fun and that’s all that matters. The Blu-ray has above average tech-specs, with awesome extras worth the price of purchase alone. If you loved Spirit of Vengeance then you will most likely hate the first film and vice-versa.

 

 

Order Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance on Blu-ray!

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

17 Responses to “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Bell Finop

    The fact you gave this movie 4 out of 5 ruins all credability of your advice on movies and jepoardizes the credability of this website.

  2. Gregg

    Four out of five overall?! Three for the film itself?? Alright, so I can admit while I truly enjoy Transformers II, I can equally acknowledge it’s not a brilliant storyline nor does it possess DiCaprio-level acting. Still, it accomplished what an action film should and the box office intake is quite relevant of that.

    Ghost Rider was the worst comic book movie ever. Period, end of statement. Debate closed. Ghost Rider II was the second worst comic book film ever, outgunning Elektra for that spot. This movie was a horrible piece of trash that does not deserve anything higher than a half mark for the film rating and that’s it. The moral of the story is, it’s one thing to say you like a film. I like G.I. Joe but that movie is not a good one and a 2.5 rating would be an accurate one. If you like Ghost Rider II, however that’s possible because there is nothing redeeming here other than proficient CGI, then more power to you but at least maintain reality and apply an appropriate rating. Three is highly generous and off the charts for the $#%& this film delivered.

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    I’d watch this again, over Act of Valor

  4. Gerard Iribe

    Gregg, 3 is more than generous. It comes out to 60%. It gets elevated to a 4 due to the tech-specs and special features. Worst than Elektra? Nowhere near. Elektra was trash and so was that Unrated version.

    I was entertained, which I mentioned in my review. That’s my scale and that’s what it did for me.

    Wait, credibility? Seriously? If it makes you feel any better Gregg, I won’t include it in in my top ten of 2012 or anything.

  5. Gerard Iribe

    Hey Bell Finop, you spelled CREDIBILITY wrong. Thanks for reading.

  6. Gregg Senko

    I took ‘credibility’ out and reworded. Fair enough on your respectful reply. This movie is still god-awful. Elektra was crap so I’m fine agreeing to disagree on who hates what more out of those two.

    Yeah ‘Act of Valor’ had some cheezy moments of dialogue and we all knew that acting wasn’t going to be anything to write home about. But that blows this out of the water. I still think a three is atrociously high for the film rating of GR2.

    Aaron, what made you like this movie so much? I’m curious because Cage was terrible. The brilliance of Ciarnan Hinds was reduced to town theater amateur hour. The story was weak. End of line.

  7. Gerard Iribe

    Gregg, this is nowhere near a great film. Far from it. I agree with your “trash” comment. It’s entertaining trash. In my opinion. I can get down with trash like this, though. It’s a simple film. It worked for me. I was pleased. You hated it and that’s fine.

  8. Aaron Neuwirth

    You can read my review :), but if you recall, I deemed the star rating for this movie negligible, it’s so ridiculous that it was kind of beyond a rating, despite me settling for one. But where there is ridiculous, there was entertainment for me.

    Also, few things in this world are worse than Steel and Catwoman.

  9. Sean Ferguson

    I haven’t seen GR2 but I agree with Aaron about Catwoman. Now I’ll have to watch this so I can either trash talk it or defend it. I’m thinking it will most likely be trash talk! 😉

  10. Brian White

    Hmm…lovely debate. I have to get in!
    I’m going to leave Catwoman out of this because that’s DC.
    As far as Marvel films, I partially agree with Gregg. The worst Marvel film IMO is the first Ghost Rider. However, I think GR2 was light years better than Ang Lee’s disasterous Hulk film. I did enjoy Elektra a little more than Ghost Rider 2, but not by that much. I took a friend to see Ghost Rider 2 because I had HIGH hopes for it. I was so embarrassed by my mistake. We went and washed the horrible after taste off that was GR2 with a second round of Safe House, which by itself isn;t stellar, but it sure is “safe.”
    GR2 is much like Crank (and I DON’T care about the same team being involved here). You either love it or you hate it. Aaron and Gerard are CA folks. They have more fun in life than us Ohio born folks so I can understand why they would like it. It’s like that old saying goes…one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
    My two cents

  11. Gerard Iribe

    Being “safe” is boring, though.

  12. Brian White

    I would rather be “safe” than have my name attached to this abomination. LOL

  13. Gerard Iribe

    No guts, no glory. I would gladly be in their shoes any day of the week. Why? They’re making movies while we write reviews. Boom.

  14. Brian White

    That’s a whole other topic.
    That’s like saying I would rather be poor than be a millionaire.
    Irrelevant.
    You like this movie. I hate it. It would make sense if you and Aaron were blondes, but you are not. You know how blondes have all the fun. LOL. So Gregg and I will just scratch our heads and wonder how this is possible to ever enjoy this movie. My rating would have been a 1.5. Loved the action and stunts, but was bored to tears by the weak story. But hey, again, that’s just me! Agree to disagree.
    I need to see Act of Valor!

  15. Gerard Iribe

    Another topic? You just made like 3 different generalizations and ended it with having to watch Act of Valor. The hell? Whole other topic indeed.

  16. Al Sharpton

    Y’all are crazy!

  17. Brian White

    Indeed!
    Never said I was perfect. I like Burlesque after all.