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Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 2, 2012 by  



“Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” was a step forward in terms of visual effects and going for a more darker feel, but its storyline was taking several steps backward.  To have a bad ass character such as Ghost Rider featured in a screenplay that revolves around a kid… what a way to dampen the enthusiasm for fans expecting so much from an iconic Marvel Comics antihero!  The film will appeal to movie fans who love films (especially Blu-ray releases) with plenty of action.  Just don’t watch this film having high expectations, or else you will be disappointed.

Images courtesy of © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved. | Ghost Rider character ™ & © 2012 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 95 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English, French, Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Descriptive Track, Catalan 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Intense Sequences of Violence and Action, Some Disturbing Images and Language)

Release Date: June 12, 2012

Directed by Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Screenplay by Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman, David S. Goyer

Story by David S. Goyer

Produced by Ashok Amritaj, Ari Arad, Avi Arad, Michael De Luca, Steven Paul

Co-Producer: Stefan Brunner, Manu Gargi

Executive Producer: Gary Foster, Maya Fukuzawa, David S. Goyer, Mark Steven Johnson, E. Bennett Walsh

Music by David Sardy

Cinematography by Brandon Trost

Edited by Brian Berdan

Casting by Colin Jones, Gail Stevens

Production Design by Kevin Phipps

Art Direction by Adrian Curelea, Serban Porupca, Justin Warburton-Brown

Set Decoration by Dominic Capon

Costume Design by Bojana Nikitovic

Starring:

Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider

Violante Placido as Nadya

Ciaran Hinds as Roarke

Idris Elba as Moreau

Johnny Whitworth as Ray Carrigan

Fergus Riordan as Danny

Spencer Wilding as Grannik

Christopher Lambert as Methodius

Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze in GHOST RIDER™ SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE. Still struggling with his curse as the devil’s bounty hunter, Johnny is hiding out in a remote part of Europe when he is recruited by a secret sect of the church to save a young boy from the devil. At first, Johnny is reluctant to embrace the power of the Ghost Rider, but it is the only way to protect the boy and possibly rid himself of his curse forever.

With the box office success of the 2007 film “Ghost Rider”, a character based on the popular Marvel Comics supernatural anti-hero, there was no doubt that Columbia Pictures and Marvel would once again work on a sequel.

But rather than work on a sequel, producers Ari Arad and Avi Arad wanted to go in a different direction, to focus more on a reboot of the character and showcase Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider.  So, for “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”, the producers decided to bring in “Crank” and “Jonah Hex” directorial team Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.  Brought in to write the screenplay was David S. Goyer (“The Dark Knight”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, “FlashForward”), Scott M. Gimple (“Life”, “The Walking Dead”, “FlashForward”) and Seth Hoffman (“Prison Break”, “House M.D.”).

Actor Nicolas Cage would reprise his role as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider and Ciaran Hinds as Roarke.    Starring in the film are Violante Placido (“The American, “Che ne sara di Noi”), Idris Elba (“Thor”, “28 Weeks Later”, “The Wire”), Johnny Whitworth (“Limitless”, “3:10 to Yuma”, “Empire Records”)  and Fergus Riordan (“Fragile”, “I Want to be a Soldier”).

And now “Ghost Rider: Spirits of Vengeance” will be released on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD in June 2012.

To understand what “Ghost Rider: Spirits of Vengeance” is about, in the first film, famous stunt rider Johnny Blaze (as portrayed by Nicolas Cage) made a pact with the devil, in the form of a human named Roarke (as portrayed by Ciaran Hinds) to give up his soul to save his dying father from cancer.  While the cancer was cured, his father was killed that same day in a motorcycle accident.  As for the pact that was made, Johnny Blaze will no longer be the same human as he has been possessed by a demon he can’t control.  This demon hungers for the soul of evil-doers and when Johnny turns into the Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider acts on its own.

In “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”, the setting is in Eastern Europe and film begins with a priest named Moreau (as portrayed by Idris Elba) goes to warn an order of monks that the devil has sent out forces to retrieve a special boy named Danny (as portrayed by Fergus Riordan) and his mother Nadya (as portrayed by Violante Placido).  But the head monk feels that they are safe and no harm can come their way, until the monks are all slaughtered by another group and their leader Ray Carrigan (as portrayed by Johnny Whitworth).

As Nadya and Danny have managed to escape, Moreau tries to help but is side-tracked when Carrigan’s men start to pursue after Nadya.  So, needing some help to save Nadya and Danny, Moreau goes to Johnny Blaze, who happens to be hiding out in Romania.  Moreau surprises Johnny when he seems to know that he had made a pact with the devil and also knows about Roarke.  But Moreau catches his curiosity that his path to removing the demon within him, all comes down to this one child named Danny but also after him is the devil, Roarke.

And now Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider want to find Johnny before Roarke gets his hands on him.

Meanwhile, Nadya and Danny are found by Carrigan and his men kidnap the boy, while Nadya is to be executed by Carrigan but out of nowhere, Ghost Rider shows up in hopes to get the boy.  While Ghost Rider manages to destroy a few of Carrigan’s men, Carrigan shoots him with a grenade launcher (injuring Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider) and escapes with the boy.

With Danny now in the hands of Carrigan and planning to transfer boy to Roarke, Johnny teams up with Nadya and Moreau in hopes of finding Danny, so he is able rid of himself of the demon.

Meanwhile, the priest Moreau reveals the true nature of the Ghost Rider demon to Johnny Blaze and Nadya revealing that Danny’s father is Roarke and that his purpose is to find a new human vessel to reside in, because the human body he is in, is quite weak and dying.  Now, Johnny Blaze must do all he can to prevent Roarke from getting his hands on Danny.

VIDEO:

“Ghost Rider: Spirits of Vengeance” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1).  The great news is that the film looks fantastic on Blu-ray.  Shot on digital, the film features wonderful detail from the CG work of Ghost Rider, to the clarity of details of Ghost Rider’s jacket, Johnny Blaze’s transformation, the use of fire and flame effects and much more!  The colors are vibrant and videophiles should be pleased by the detail of the film.  With that being said, the weakness which many people felt about the film is shooting the film via handheld.  Many disliked it, I personally was not too bothered by it.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” is presented in English, French and Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA and an English-Audio Descriptive track plus Catalan 5.1 Dolby Digital.  As one would expect from an action-driven film, this film is immersive.  The soundscape in you room is filled with audio from all over, thanks to its use of directional sound coming from the surround channels.  From the Ghost Rider taking control of various vehicles (including one behemoth vehicle), a chase scene with many crash scenes and explosions and windows and glass shattering, to the many guns being fired in the film, especially heavy artillery, the lossless soundtrack is fantastic!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” comes with the following special features:

  • Directors Expanded Video Commentary – A video commentary featuring filmmakers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.  While the two are shown frequently during the commentary, we also see a video of the film but also a smaller video section in the corner featuring the actual filming of a certain scene.   There is no doubt that Neveldine and Taylor bring a lot of humor to the audio commentary, but depending on one’s taste, some may find it funny and others may find it annoying.  But it’s an informative but off-the-cuff type of commentary that you usually don’t hear in a film.
  • Deleted Scenes – (11:20) A total of six deleted scenes.
  • The Path to Vengeance: Making Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance – (1:25:00)  A six-documentary which can be watched in full or by each part.  Featuring “Blazing New Path” (8:31, Discussion of not wanting to make a sequel but a new film/reboot), “Patience is Not a Virtue: Pre-Production” (25:31, working on the script, hiring the cast and more), “We Will Burn This City to Bitter Ashes (8:50, about filming in Eastern Europe), “To Hell and Back: Production” (23:41, from shooting the film, makeup and more), “Walking in Both Worlds: Post-Production” (15:32, the digital effects of the film) and “The Fires of Hell Will Purify You: Release” (8:41, test screenings, promoting the film at Comic-Con and more).
  • Previews – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment trailers.

EXTRAS:

A code is included with the Blu-ray release to watch and access the full-length movie  via the cloud through Ultraviolet.

As a comic collector during my child up to my college years, “Ghost Rider” was a title that I did purchase and collect.  And to tell you the truth, when this sequel came out, I was a bit excited because I thought the film would feature Danny Ketch and the character known as Vengeance.

But instead, it was a film to showcase Ghost Rider, his powers (using newer technology than what was used in the first film) and showcase Johnny Blaze and the battle he faces each day with the demon inside him. And while I did like seeing the craziness of Johnny Blaze, thanks to Nicolas Cage’s portrayal of the character, the film was all action with a storyline that seemed to be created around the action.

We have the cool Idris Elba show up as the often inebriated priest Moreau, but unfortunately, his character was never fully developed.  We see the beautiful Violante Placido as Nadya, who was featured heavily in the first half of the film but yet she nearly disappears for the second half until the end.

So, I was bit surprised because I expected a lot from David S. Goyer, who did a fantastic job with the screenplay of “The Dark Knight” and “Batman Begins”, but the film seems to embody more action as his previous screenplays that he did for films like “Blade” and “Blade II”.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if the screenplay was rewritten and retweaked for budgetary reasons and molded for the directorial style of filmmakers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.

Personally, having read the “Ghost Rider” comic books, the film really needs to take a darker step forward.  While the visual effects of this film was good, having a story with Ghost Rider around a young boy, just doesn’t seem right.  It reminds me of Marvel comic books of the ’80s when Spider-Man, Captain America and other superheroes would hang out with children (which was understandable as the demographic targeted was children), but in today’s superhero films, I definitely don’t want to see a superhero film that revolves around a child, especially with a dark character such as Ghost Rider.

While the popcorn action will definitely entice those who expect Ghost Rider to kick some ass, the step to a more darker Ghost Rider was cool to see visually, but the action and visual effects can only go so far.   Personally, they need to get out of the Roarke storyline and possibly consider focusing on a storyline featuring Ghost Rider vs. another Marvel hero (which usually happens in the comic books), a hero that possibly Marvel may want to look into giving the character its own film.  May it be the return of Blade or Iron Fist/Luke Cage, Dr. Strange or even Ghost Rider vs. Vengeance if need be.   And both working together in taking on a greater evil.

As for the Blu-ray release, “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” does look and sound great on Blu-ray, that is a major plus!  And whether or not you enjoy the humorous video commentary by filmmakers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, at least the guys are able to defend the film and even have fun joking around about the film despite how many critics disapproved of the film.

Overall, “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” was a step forward in terms of visual effects and going for a more darker feel, but its storyline was taking several steps backward.  To have a bad ass character such as Ghost Rider featured in a screenplay that revolves around a kid… what a way to dampen the enthusiasm for fans expecting so much from an iconic Marvel Comics antihero!

Ghost Rider deserves much better, as has the other Marvel superheroes have received in their own films.  A better storyline to balance out the incredible action.

“Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” will appeal to movie fans who love films (especially Blu-ray releases) with plenty of action.  Just don’t watch this film having high expectations, or else you will be disappointed.






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