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Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D(2012)
Former stuntman and bounty hunter of rogue demons Johnny Blaze has been living in self-imposed exile, believing that his powers are a curse. But when he is approached by a member of a monastic order who is looking for someone to protect a mother and her son, who are being pursued by the devil in the figure of a man named Roarke, the Ghost Rider takes the case.
For more about Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D and the Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D Blu-ray release, see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 1, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ciarán Hinds, Idris Elba, Violante Placido, Johnny Whitworth, Anthony Head
Directors: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
» See full cast & crew
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D Blu-ray Review
Converted 3D doesn't aid a poor picture.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 1, 2012
There are some demons you just can't escape.
Though there may be many movies that fit the description, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance defines the modern "all style, no substance" motion picture. The original Ghost Rider, at best, might be described as a "misfire," a Comic Book film lost in the deluge of Comic Book films released in the 2000s, focused on a lesser-known character (but one with great potential for dark cinema and weighty themes) receiving a lesser movie that suffered through any number of problems, a cool concept lost to an inept finished product. So it should come as no surprise that the sequel -- an arguably unnecessary sequel at that -- also falters, again failing to capture the potential of the character, reducing him to a soulless (literally) and flat nobody defined by special effects rather than a quality character arc. In fact, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is easily the worst Nicholas Cage movie since 2006's The Wicker Man; Vengeance follows in that picture's tradition, the film devoid of anything even remotely resembling a passable script. It features an equally inept Nicholas Cage lead performance and a similarly inconsequential dramatic arc, though in fairness both products are largely a result of the substandard script, not a total lack of effort coming in from elsewhere. But at least Spirit of Vengeance piles on the special effects real good. The movie is a testament to modern moviemaking technology. It looks cool, but has nothing else going for it. In essence, this is an Asylum-level script simply improved upon by a big studio budget. It's a weak movie that features only fine special effects, a big name lead not quite yet past his prime, involved and daring direction, and a general cinematic competency, all of which hope to mask the other, major shortcomings.
An old fortress. Modern technology. A boy. A prophesy. Priests. Protectors. An attack. A satanic ritual. The Devil. A hero. A showdown. A young boy named Danny (Fergus Riordan) and his mother Nadya (Violante Placido) are under the protective care of an ancient religious order. But trouble is coming. A young priest named Moreau (Idris Elba) warns of a pending attack and the likelihood that the boy can no longer remain safely tucked away within the fortress' walls. The best option to save the boy: place him under the care of a reclusive Rider (Cage) cursed with supernatural powers following a disastrous deal with the devil. The attack comes quickly. Moreau manages to fend off the attackers long enough for the boy and his mother to escape. He pleads with Rider for help, and finally convinces him to lend his assistance when he promises Rider that members of his religious order will lift his curse upon completion of his mission. Little does Rider know that he'll come face-to-face with his old nemesis Roarke (Ciarán Hinds) and confront a powerful enemy in the former shape of Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth), a minion with the power to disintegrate all he touches. It will be the most dangerous and most important fight of Rider's life.
Or something. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance tells a poorly-structured story that never makes that much sense, the plot seemingly just a catch-all meant to frame the action and special effects. The basics aren't hard to follow; it's not the how where the movie fails so much as it is the why. The picture lacks structural rhythm, dramatic purpose, and emotional involvement. It's simply a huge serving of special effects passing off as a movie. Never does the film, outside of a few moments of character arc advancement, ever really find a dramatic stride suitable even for a low-rung picture. There must be some purpose for a movie, some kind of plot or character advancement to form at least a foundation for the visuals, but Spirit of Vengeance never quite finds a purpose beyond the attempt to entertain through sheer force of visual and aural spectacle. And even then there's not much here, beyond some amped-up styling and slightly improved computer effects, to differentiate this Ghost Rider from the first. Indeed, the movie works well enough as the ultimate in mindless, time-killing entertainment. Viewers looking to burn money and minutes on something "new" -- literally "new," not at all figuratively "new" -- might want to take a spin on the flaming cycle of death, but for those looking to play it safe and not have their soul sucked out by an awful excuse for a movie might want to look elsewhere for their cinematic entertainment.
Yet there's the singular positive that, at the very least, Spirit of Vengeance spits out (or urinates out, more on that in a moment): a good bit of high-quality digital effects workmanship that makes the movie partway palatable from a purely technical perspective. The picture perhaps goes somewhat overboard in all of the "this is the filmmakers trying to be cool" shots -- there's an excess of slow motion, for instance -- but that at least makes room for what are some admittedly great treats for the eyes. When the bad guys attempt to kill the Ghost Rider with a Javelin missile, he runs them over with oversized construction equipment. When they effort to pump him full of lead, he evaporates them into a pile of ash, as if his chain were sunlight and his foes vampires. The visual effects artists have done a wonderful job of bringing the character and all that defines him to life; there's no shortage of close-up shots of the enflamed skull, charred clothes and bikes, flaming tires, and various objects ablaze. But at the end of the day, it's all show, the entire movie counting on shot-after-shot of meaty visuals to pass the time and pass off as entertainment. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is merely a collection of computer visuals and amped-up sound effects masquerading as entertainment. It might satisfy school boys in search of the latest and greatest dazzling digital graphics, but anyone looking for substance beyond the hard drive should keep on searching.
The directing duo of Neveldine and Taylor shoot Ghost Rider with what seems like equal parts slow motion, hand-held, and random interlude. The emphasis is definitely on the look rather than anything else. The directors jazz up the movie and energize it with incessant motion that accentuates the special effects and the comic book tone, but the picture seems to otherwise play it safe, eschewing a dark, haunting overlay in favor of a comic edge and a lack of dramatic cohesion that are two of the movie's primary faults. Whether the movie inserts a photograph of Jerry Springer as if he were supposedly the devil incarnate or random flashes of the title character vomiting chains or peeing fire (seriously), Spirit of Vengeance seems more concerned with the ancillary elements than it does with the story, but then again when the story is this out of focus and absent much originality or direction, one really can't blame the directors for shifting the focus away to something else, even if that something else is the world's worst urinary tract infection. Unfortunately, it's never really funny -- except for a contextually humorous Twinkie scene -- and the effort to move away from the script seems to only mean more evidence for the critics' prosecution of the case against the movie. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance never catches a break; it's an all-out festival of everything bad about modern moviemaking, minus those nifty, fiery special effects.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance features a fairly bland converted-in-post-production 3D image. Sony's 1080p Blu-ray 3D transfer remains fairly true to the spectacular 2D image found both on disc two of this set and as the main attraction in the standalone 2D-only release. The 3D image is perhaps just a hair darker than the general image, but it's not so dark that the movie disappears into overwhelming blacks. Details do remain largely excellent here, so much so that audiences can see the digital intricacies making up the charred and ablaze Rider, the textures of worn-in leather, even the rough texture of the rubble underneath which Blackout is born. Colors are fine, stable and natural and only slightly dimmed in the darker scenes. Banding remains around light sources, and very light noise is evident in a few shots. As for the 3D portion of the transfer, it offers up a serviceably good, mostly natural sense of visual depth. Most scenes, whether looking down a long road or merely featuring characters standing only feet apart, reveal a quality sense of spacing, allowing audiences to accurately judge feet and yards and various lengths with fairly good precision. Otherwise, this transfer features very little in terms of additional 3D content. A few drifting remnants of victims from both Rider's chain and Blackout's touch appear to float in front of the screen, but otherwise there's just nothing to report. Minor crosstalk was noted on the review Panasonic plasma display, notably in an early scene featuring Nadya seducing a would-be pickpocket victim. All in all, this is a serviceable but unremarkable 3D transfer. The smart money is on saving a few dollars and enjoying the wonderful 2D-only release.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance rides onto Blu-ray with a high quality DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. This is a smooth, naturally spaced, aggressive, and very well balanced track, one that's very cinematic in nature and held back only by a feeling that it might have been just a hair louder and a touch more energetic at reference volume. But as it is, this is a winner, a track of many highs and no other real lows. All elements play with an evident stability and obvious clarity. The entire range from the sharpest highs to the most rumbly lows play in audible harmony, giving the track a complete and exciting flavor. Music flows evenly and with wonderful clarity. It's dynamic and immersive, focused up the front but enjoying a positive surround element. Likewise, the film's various sound effects take full advantage of the 5.1 spectrum, delivering what is sometimes a dizzying and completely immersive array of sonic goodies that envelop the listener like a warm devilish chain. Effects spring from every corner with precision and ease, always matching the on- and off-screen action move for move, frame for frame. Heavy sound effects of a fierce battle nicely submerge the listener into the chaos. Shattering glass, smashed metal, machine gun chatter, and hefty explosions play with great precision and balance all around the listening area. The track also excels in its delivery of simpler but no less important ambience. Background patron speech, music, and clanking silverware nicely recreate the sounds of a restaurant in chapter nine, while gusty winds all but ruffle the listening audiences' hair in chapter ten. Dialogue is even, balanced, and focused up the middle. This is a quality, high output, entertaining track that's everything it should be in support of a movie such as this.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance's Blu-ray 3D release contains all of the extras included with the standalone 2D release. The 3D disc contains the exclusive supplement Riding Into Another Dimension (1080p 3D, 7:07), a piece featuring the crew discussing the challenges of the current state of 3D filmmaking and the advantages of converting the 2D image in post-production.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Take away its special effects, and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance fails on every level. That's a shame, because the character seems ripe for a dark, violent, brooding sort of detailed character study intermixed with hellish violence. But once again Hollywood has cranked out a play-it-safe PG-13 movie that's more the second coming of Daredevil than it is a movie in the mold of The Dark Knight. The movie seems aiming for a target audience of middle school-aged boys who might be blinded by the nifty visuals, but most film fans who even remotely care about enjoying a movie with good characters and a coherent plot and some kind of thematic meaning and dramatic content beyond the basics might be better served by searching out another movie. As for the Blu-ray, it's a strong release. The converted 3D image offers general depth and almost nothing more. The general video and audio presentations are fine, and the supplements are much better than the movie they support. This disc does include the 2D-only disc in addition to the 3D presentation, so those with deeper pockets who want to check out the 3D -- or simply have it on had for a future television upgrade -- should choose this version over the other.
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Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Blu-ray - April 9, 2012
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will bring Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance to Blu-ray this summer. The sequel to the 2007 action-adventure, this film follows the comic-book hero (Nicolas Cage, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans) to Europe, where he finds ...
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