Blu-ray Review: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Sony | DIRECTORS: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor | CAST: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Anthony Head
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 6/12/2012 | PRICE: DVD $30.99, Blu-ray $35.99, Blu-ray 3D $45.99
BONUSES: deleted scenes, video commentary, six-part documentary
SPECS: PG-13 | 95 min. | Fantasy | 2.40:1 aspect ratio | 5.1 DTS-HD audio | English, French, Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

The second movie in the fantasy franchise, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is darker and — if possible — more ridiculous than the original, but it does have some laughable parts, in a good way. Whether that’s worth the price of the Blu-ray depends on whether you like your entertainment lowbrow with little thinking required, the kind of film in which a demon peeing flames is a highlight.

Not a sequel but a reboot, according to the directors in the special features, Spirit of Vengeance finds Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage, Season of the Witch) in Eastern Europe when he’s asked to rescue the son of the devil (Ciaran Hinds, The Woman in Black) in return for having the Ghost Rider excised. First, he must use the Rider to find and rescue the boy (Fergus Riordan), sending the souls of the bad guys to hell. Of course, the devil gets in the way, along with a fast-talking bad guy (Johnny Whitworth, Limitless) who’s given the power to decay everything he touches.

That power gives us one of those laugh-worthy moments, when Whitworth’s Ray Carrigan picks up various food items to eat, like an apple and a sandwich, but they all decay quickly. Then he picks up a Twinkie and it stays perfectly fine.

For their part, directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Gamer) keep the action high. The team injects a lot of the adrenaline from their Crank films into this Ghost Rider, and a lot of the fun in the film comes from their direction. But their work on the script didn’t make it less worthy of eye rolls.

Cage gives his usual over-the-top action performance. He really should stick to comedies like The Family Man and The Weather Man, where he shines. In action films like this, not so much.

This time, Cage isn’t alone in his not-so-great acting. Hinds and Elba try to put some life into their roles, but the script lets them down.

With all its fiery special effects and beautiful l0cations, Spirit of Vengeance does look wonderful on Blu-ray, and the 5.1 DTS-HD audio handles the many explosions, screams, gunshots, punches, chain whips and other sounds well.

The Blu-ray is packed with special features, and fans of Neveldine and Taylor’s movies will enjoy seeing them work in the six-part behind-the-scenes documentary, the best of the lot on the disc. The directors should be lauded for their enthusiasm for the film and willingness to go the extra mile for a shot. Footage in the documentary shows them shooting while hanging from wires and on roller blades while hanging from behind a car. Maybe a do-not-try-at-home warning is needed.

The documentary is pretty comprehensive, going from initial discussions about how the movie should proceed after the first film all the way through screening to focus groups. As well as behind-the-scenes footage, there’s interviews with all the stars, producers and others, giving lots of ups and downs of filming, including when all the crew and extras in Romania almost walked out because of a misunderstanding caused by the language barrier. As the directors pointed out, this was a situation they haven’t had to deal with before.

At times, the documentary seems to take itself a little too seriously, given the subject matter, but it does offers lot of information of what goes into filmmaking.

The directors also go behind the scenes in an extended video commentary, in which they periodically pause the film and give explanations. There is some overlap with the documentary. At times, in both the commentary and the documentary, Neveldine and Taylor come across as not as funny as they think they are, but they are trying.

The disc also has a handful of deleted scenes, but they’re not too entertaining.

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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.