Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Blu-ray delivers stunning video and audio in this fan-pleasing Blu-ray release
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 and the Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Blu-ray release, see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 1, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
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
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
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,
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
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
competency, all of which hope to mask the other, major shortcomings.
You really don't want to mess with me.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 features a razor-sharp and mostly problem-free 1080p transfer sourced from the original digital photography.
Save for some excessive banding, generally around bright light sources, the image appears largely flawless, presenting viewers with an example of digital
cinema at its finest. Sony's Blu-ray displays marvelous details from beginning to end. Fantastic clarity and razor-sharpness allows for every last pixel to
appear in perfect working order. Creased and well-worn leather, beaten concrete surfaces, rocky and sandy terrain, complex facial textures, and intricate
clothing details will amaze even those viewers accustomed to highest quality Blu-ray releases from Sony or other top studios. Colors are exceptionally
well balanced and true to the source, whether real backdrops or digitally artificial flames. The transfer is feee of excess noise, and there's no blockiness or
intrusive edge halos to report. This is a near perfect transfer, looking just as it should, pristine and as-intended for home consumption.
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 contains a picture-in-picture commentary, deleted scenes, and a ninety minute making-of Documentary, all
of which capture the hard work and lengthy process that goes into the making of a major motion picture.
Director's Expanded Video Commentary (1080p, 1:43:31): Sony describes this as "an all access behind-the-scenes look at the making
of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance." The film's directors offer a light and funny but also informative collection of thoughts as they speak on --
sometimes even physically get into a demonstration of -- shooting techniques and locales, plot structure, their own personal style, stunts and special
effects, and just
general moments in the movie. A picture-in-picture box shows basic behind-the-scenes moments as the movie runs behind, while the directors often
stand in front of a larger screen as the movie and additional behind-the-scenes footage -- both running and paused -- plays within a chain-framed
window. The directors do a wonderful job of defending the picture, discussing its secrets, and generally entertaining audiences, including those
audiences who didn't quite enjoy the movie as much as the filmmakers probably hoped.
Deleted Scenes (1080p, 11:20): The Church, Penance Stare, Rental Car Scene, Vasil's Fight Club, Wild Ride, and Roarke
The Path to Vengeance: Making Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (1080p): This six-part Documentary encompasses a wide
behind-the-scenes elements that paint a full picture of the process of making the film. Blazing a New Path (8:31) examines the early
processes of bringing a new Ghost Rider film to the screen, including the origins for the idea, bringing on Directors Neveldine and Taylor,
moving on from the first film, and Nicolas Cage's work in the series. Patience is Not a
Virtue: Pre-Production (25:31) examines the process of putting together the script, the rapid-fire scheduling, assembling the cast, budget,
shooting in Eastern Europe, the difficulties in finding cameras, and more. We Will Burn This City to Bitter Ashes (8:50) focuses in closely on
shooting in Eastern Europe. To Hell and Back: Production (23:41) looks at the hardcore work of the directing tandem, shooting various
challenging scenes, Cage's performance of the Rider in addition to playing Johnny Blaze, the look and challenges of shooting locales, makeup work, and
Walking in Both Worlds: Post-Production (15:32) takes a close look into the work after the shoot, including digital effects. Also examined are
between the two Ghost Rider films, sound effects recording, and score construction. Finally, The Fires of Hell Will Purify You: Release
(8:41) looks at test screenings, convincing the Comic-Con crowd of the movie's potential, and trailer release.
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. Sony's Blu-ray release of Ghost Rider certainly hits the spot. Fantastic video and audio presentations are supported by a video
track, deleted scenes, and a lengthy making-of piece. Fans can and should buy with a high level of confidence in the disc's technical achievements, but
most others will be best served with a rental.
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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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