Itís better than the original Ghost Rider, Iíll give it that. Now, thatís not exactly saying alot, but...thatís one of the few positives I can think of for this one. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is the sequel/reboot to the 2007 comic book flick, despite the fact that it kind of ignores it, and we find our hero still on the run from his own personal demons (ba dum dum). However, he soon finds himself drawn into conflict to save a young boyís life.
Now, despite the quality of the original, I was kinda pumped for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, solely because of the directing team behind it. These guys brought us the awesomely stupid Crank movies and, in all honestly, their energy and enthusiasm are perfect for this movie. Deranged demonic biker just seem like a perfect, perfect match. And their crazy touch actually does this movie a great service by amping up the action scenes and injecting some weird humor into the proceedings. And, admittedly, it does play out awesome at times. The action scenes are really well handled and just over-the-top crazy. The bad guys are unloading machine guns into Ghost Riderís face, or blasting him wiht a bazooka, or tossing him from vehicle to vehicle. At the same time, olí Ghostie is turning pretty much every vehicle into his own hell machine and cutting a black streak through Europe.
As awesome as that all sounds...it...doesnít really work. The trashy action one comes to expect from the creative team behind Crank feels neutered and safe. Sure, the body count is pretty high in this flick, but itís all handled in pretty safe terms, usually being turning to ash or rapidly aging to the point where only dust remains. And itís all handled quickly and then dismissed. Given the demonic content, itís actually pretty safe for the younger crowd. Now, not too young but easily 12 and up. The sometimes bizarre humor also makes the movie tolerable because, at the end of it all, nothing else about this film really works.
The plot doesnít make a lick of sense, the action sequences Ė while pretty fun Ė are neutered and tame, and the characters are so flat and uninteresting. Only Idras Elba as a drunken French priest only make any type of impact, and that mostly has to do with his insanely over-the-top performance. There are a few moments where heís giving Nicholas Cage Ė reprising the role from the 207 flick Ė a run for his money. Everyone else is pretty forgettable and doesnít make any type of impact on the movie. Theyíre all cannon fodder for the Ghost Rider and the directorís know that.
There is a lot of potential for this film here, and you can see it on the screen. There are times when the movie just goes absolutely nuts, usually with Cage in the forefront. His interrogation scene is simply crazy and impossible to turn away from. You just have no idea if this is just bad, bad acting, or some truly genius work on Cageís part. It just...straddled that bizarre line. Of course, seconds later, we cut to Cage bolting down a road trying to hold the demon in, resulting in some out-of-this world CGI-enhanced mugging for the camera. Itís...absolutely crazy. Thereís just no other way to describe it. And, honestly, I wish the film would just keep going like this. If it was 90 minutes of this insanity, Iíd be all over it, but no. These moments are then cut into with long, drawn-out moments of pointless exposition or dramatic moments meant to make us invested in the story...and none of them work. Thereís no story and the characters are so dull that...none of that works.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance actually has so much going for it, but it holds back and effectively snuffs itself out. Itís pretty obvious the PG-13 rating has an impact on the final product, and itís a shame. The film is aching to cut loose. Watch those action sequences, or some of the more battier moments with Cage, and you can just tell...thereís something bubbling under the surface. But we donít get to see it here. The lack of compelling villains, developed characters, and a story worth telling cripple the movie, yes, but something tells me that the majority of the filmís problems would have been solved if the filmís creators wouldíve been able to do as they do best, and make an absolutely trashy action flick. Die-hard comic fans or Cage fanatics may want to give this a rental, but thereís nothing here really worth checking out. Skip It.
As to what should be no surprise, the Blu-ray is really stacked and awesome. On nearly all fronts, too. The audio and video is spectacular, the bonus content is actually really interesting at times, and the material is pretty hefty. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has wrangled up a really excellent release, surprisingly given the filmís critical reception and box-office performance.
Taking a look first at the audio and video, it should come as no surprise that both are top notch. The video is...shockingly crystal clear. You can catch some of the neat little details peppered throughout the movie, like Ghost Riderís bubbling leather jacket, and never feel really overwhelmed by it. Everything is well balanced, details are excellent, and colors are deep. Heck, you can even see where the practical work begins and the special effects start for even the smallest bit of work. The audio is solid but not as overpowering as one might expect. I was expecting to have to turn the television down on some of the action sequences but...no. Itís really well balanced, the action and the Ďdrama,í but never so much that it becomes a detriment. All the speakers get a workout, and everything sounds crystal clear and sharp, but itís ust not as aggressively loud as I was expecting.
Just to note, the 3D version included isnít really anything special. Itís definitely post-converted and, because of that, it doesnít look natural or even necessary. Itís there, thereís a few rare moments where the 3D looks good, but thereís no reason to go after the 3D version for a post-converted job. Just get the 2D Blu-ray.
And now, the bonus content! Now, it may not look like thereís a lot by skimming over the back cover, but thereís definitely more here than I expected. The disc kicks off with ďThe Path to Vengeance,Ē a six-part making-of documentary that covers pretty much every aspect of the filmís production. Clocking in at an very impressive 90 minutes, the doc goes into remarkable details about the filmís troubled production. In fact, I had no idea the production on this film was as rough as it eventually turned out to be. No prep time, locations falling through, schedules to juggle, gear crashing, just constant mishaps and problem after problem. Itís very details and doesnít really leave any stone unturned. Heck, this documentary is actually better and far more interesting than the actual film.
Up next is the picture-in-picture Expanded Video Commentary. Surprisingly, thereís very little overlap when it comes to the content on this commentary compared to the excellent documentary. Thereís a shade bit here and there, the odd story retold, but overall itís pretty fantastic. Thereís more great behind-the-scenes footage, stories, and incredibly off-color jokes that involve a whole range of lewd topics. Oh, those wondering why Ghost Rider inexplicably spins in the air during one of the latter action scenes? They kind explain it here. Still, more great facts and tidbits come to light...kudos on the filmmakers!
The disc wraps up with about ten minutes of deleted scenes Ė nothing worth noting Ė a digital copy, a DVD copy, and trailers.
The bonus features are really great here, but the underwhelming main feature makes this a difficult title to recommend. For those die-hard Ghost Riders, seek out this disc. Even if the movie is terrible, there is plenty of good that comes from it when it comes to bonus features. It doesnít really provide any new thrills and the great moments found here and there are few and far in-between. Itís a step up from the original Ghost Rider flick, but that honestly isnít saying too much. Skip it!.