Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)
By: J.R. McNamara on August 29, 2012  | 
DVD
Warner Bros. | Region B | 2.40:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 95 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba
Screenplay: Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman, David S. Goyer
Country: USA
External Links
IMDB Rotten YouTube
Marvel comics of the 70s were some of the best comics ever made, and I really dig everything they did at that time. Actually, Marvel were heavily influenced by cinema throughout this era as they had their horror characters, their blaxploitation characters (like Power Man and Black Goliath), chop socky guys (like Shang Chi and Iron Fist) and their supernatural line, which included Satana, Man Thing and this guy, Ghost Rider.

OK, so I am the guy who liked the first Ghost Rider movie, I need to point that out straight away. I am aware that some of you may choose to avoid my reviews in future after this revelation, but for any of its faults: it had the fucking Ghost Rider in it. Oh, and Eva Mendes in some outfits that were so tight you can almost count the hairs on her. well, they were pretty tight.

This new production, under the Marvel Knights line (a lower budget, more violent, less mainstream part of Marvel films) was directed by the team of Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine, who brought us the Crank films and Gamer, and was written by Scott M. Gimple (episodes of The Walking Dead), Seth Hoffman and David S. Goyer (Dark City and the Blade films. amongst others).

This reboot of the Ghost Rider tale sees Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage), the alter ego of the demon motorcyclist Ghost Rider, roped into assisting a wine scoffing warrior monk by the name of Moreau (Idris Elba) who is working for a religious order to stop the devil in his human guise Roarke (Ciaran Hinds) from kidnapping a young boy. The boy, Danny (Fergus Riordan), is on the run with his mother Nadya (Violante Placido) and if he falls into Roarke's hands... well, presumably bad things will happen. Naturally Roarke has a mercenary working for him named Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth) whose efforts to get the boy are assisted by a dark, evil gift. Throw in Highlander's Christopher Lambert as a tattooed religious fanatic and you have the potential for an absolute blast!

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance had a much lower budget than the previous outing, but it is a very different film, with a darker, dirtier vibe that a larger budget possibly would have been detrimental to. The look of the main character and his motorcycle are so much fierier than in the first film, with the Rider's skull charred and the flames belching a thick polluting smoke that is echoed in the emissions from his motorcycle. His leathers aren't smooth like in the first film, they bubble and pop, giving the fire real intensity, and you can almost feel the heat from it.

Most of the performances in the film are good, except, I hate to say it, for Cage's. He is supposed to be a man haunted by a demon within, but his hamming leans into Vaudevillian territory which doesn't really suit parts of the film.

The story is a little generic, and plot points will jump out at seasoned film goers well before they happen. That is not to say there aren't some interesting moments (keep your eye out for a tribute to Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here", a joke about the use by date of Twinkies and the Ghost Rider 'hellifying' a gigantic piece of digging equipment) but the direction is the hero here. Neveldine and Taylor deliver their hectic style seen in the Crank films and it suits the character perfectly, making Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance a blast to watch.

Missed opportunity for comic geekdom department: there is a son of Satan in this and they didn't call him Damien Hellstrom? Marvel fans will know what I mean!
Video
A truly kick arse image, the 2.40:1 presentation is extremely detailed, flawless and razor sharp - everything you could possibly expect from modern film made digitally.
Audio
Sexy as all get-out, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a bombastic sound experience that beat the crap out of my eardrums and made them its bitch!
Extra Features
The Path to Vengeance is a great 6 part documentary looking at the trials that Neveldine and Taylor and their cast and crew went though in order to get the film made. It's an interesting look at filmmaking in Eastern Europe and the directors take the whole situation with a great sense of humour.

The Deleted Scenes are cool: essentially unnecessary but interesting if only for the semi-finished CGI.

Director's Expanded Video Commentary is the best director's commentary ever. It features Taylor and Neveldine standing in front of the film and commenting, stopping the film for 'making of footage' and picture in picture stuff with alternate shots and making of bits. It's a really interesting and innovative commentary that has a wry sense of humour as well. It does, however, double up on some of the info given in the The Path to Vengeance doco.

That's the end of our selection on the 2D version. The 3D Blu-ray (that you will have to purchase separately) also includes the 3D featurette Riding Into Another Dimension.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is not as glossy as its bigger budgeted predecessor but it is slightly better due to the manic direction and maniac performances that come together to create a lively audio/visual experience. It knows its limitations, attempts to exceed them, and does.

In closing I want to say one thing that pissed me off about this release. Warner Home Entertainment, in their wisdom, has decided to release two different Blu-ray releases of this film: one has the 3D and 2D versions on two discs, and the other version has the 2D version, a DVD and a digital copy. so why not a combo of all?!? I like my digital copies of films, and whilst I don't have a 3D TV, I like to get the 3D versions in case I get one in the future, so what do I buy here? What will end up happening is I'll probably buy both.

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