[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8862[/img]Title: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Fergus Riordan
Directed by: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Written by: Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Runtime: 95 min
Blu-Ray Release Date: June 12, 2012
HTS Overall Score: 73
Nicolas Cage adds another movie to his extensive and diverse filmography by reprising the role of Johnny Blaze and his alter ego Ghost Rider in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. If you didn’t see the comic book of the same name come to life in Ghost Rider (2007), Cage as Johnny Blaze gives you the most important details in a narrative accompanied by a short animation early on. Basically to save his dying father, Blaze makes a deal with, you guessed it, the devil. The devil’s propensity to be dishonest results in Blaze becoming possessed by an ancient demon that when in the presence of evil causes him to change into what we see as Ghost Rider, who preys on the wicked and sucks out their souls. The fact that Blaze explains his predicament and a little about his saga relieves any concerns viewers might have about not seeing the original and allows anyone to comfortably watch the sequel knowing they won’t be lost in the storyline.
So, while Blaze is on the run in Eastern Europe hiding out in a deserted shanty barn trying to avoid human
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8859[/img]contact, a young priest named Moreau (Elba) is hurriedly riding to a monastery, also in Eastern Europe to warn the monks that the boy they are harboring is being sought after and must immediately be taken to the sanctuary. The monk assures Moreau that they are standing in a fortress and that the full resources of The Order are at their disposal. No sooner does the monk finish speaking when mercenaries infiltrate and storm the monastery and quickly disperse in search of the boy. During the commotion Moreau keeps a few of the mercenaries at bay allowing the boy and his protective mother to exit through a door and then escape in a vehicle they had secretly parked.
With the boy on the lam aided by his mother Moreau comes to visit Blaze; because of course Moreau knows of his whereabouts and his situation and has a deal for him. If Blaze safely delivers the boy to Moreau, Moreau’s church will remove the curse. Blaze desperately wanting to be rid of his condition turns into Ghost Rider and angrily speeds away sensing the boy’s location by looking at his picture. The Rider, as he’s also known arrives just in time as Ray Carrigan (Whitworth) the leader of the group commissioned to find the boy Danny (Riordan) and his crew are beating up on Danny and his mother Nadya (Placido). The Rider’s first attempt at getting Danny is fruitless; time for round two with tenfold the action, loudness and mayhem.
Ghost Rider’s first appearance is visually amazing and there’s a few seconds of sonic chaos that really
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8858[/img]works a 5.1 system, but there are problems. Ghost Rider has no qualms about using his red hot whip to ensnarl his enemies turning them into ash, but he also has the ability to suck out a soul; I know that sounds cool and it looks cool in one of the animations peppered throughout the film, but when it happens it’s so uneventful. It’s just a deep stare into the eyes of the enemy. Where’s the part where we see a luminescent vapor representing the soul being painfully and forcefully removed?
So that’s a bit disappointing, but when Ghost Rider takes a hold of a giant piece of mining equipment during another altercation with Carrigan and his goons the result is pure over the top insanity. The chainsaw looking machine becomes fully ablaze and The Rider goes berserk wielding it in a chopping motion destroying everything in its circular perimeter. It’s a wild and technically intricate scene. The end result of the bonkers offense is Carrigan pinned under a huge slab of rock waiting at death’s door, but his time on Earth is not yet up. Roarke/the Devil/his employer bestows onto him the power of decay and darkness allowing him to continue on and hunt down The Rider and retrieve Danny. Roarke desperately wants Danny for a sinister and evil plan that in a nutshell involves unleashing the Antichrist upon the world. Now the threesome, The Rider, Moreau and Nadya, must try to fight back Carrigan and prevent Roarke from going through with the ritual.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance has a very linear storyline, which makes it an easy watch,
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8857[/img]but unfortunately there is little substance to it especially in the depth of the characters. Danny, Nadya and even Roarke are all plain and generic in their portrayal. Danny and Nadya I honestly didn’t care about even though they are integral to the storyline, and the Devil, at least give him some pizazz. I liked Moreau mostly because I like the actor but he was also one dimensional. Carrigan does a satisfactory job portraying a nearly dead Grim Reaper-like villain. And then we have one Mr. Nicolas Cage, who as per usual hams it up and delivers his lines with robust intensity and in a slightly unintentional comedic style. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance falters in character development, but impresses and definitely entertains in the action and visual department.
PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, and language.
The fast paced violin score melds well with the Eastern European setting. It has an obvious presence, but
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8861[/img]doesn’t intrude and never completely overshadows the dialogue. The first time Ghost Rider appears on screen are a few seconds of eardrum shaking sonic overdose. Low end bass combined with a powerful directional effect make for a stunning audible entrance. The sound of the flames, the chain being whipped around, bike engine are clear and impressive. Pounding rock n’ roll music comes to life when Ghost Rider is sucking out a soul. Explosions pack a punch and the sound is extended by shrapnel flying to each corner. There’s a very healthy soundtrack in this movie with dialogue and environmental sounds mixing well with the often high energy heavy metal-like numbers. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance really shines in the audio department and turning up the volume will no doubt enhance the already encompassing experience.
Scenes that take place at night suffer just a tad from black images being washed out, but for the better
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8861[/img]part the black levels and contrast are great. There’s plenty of detail in The Rider’s charred clothing, leather clothing in general looks rich and textured. Makeup looks convincing and aptly gross and facial detail is also very high and natural looking. Daylight scenes are vibrant and full of diverse colors. The picture overall is very smooth with no grain and grit. Explosions, flames, and smoke look simply outstanding and Ghost Rider’s charred skull actually looks real. The boffins in charge of CGI outdid themselves. The bright flames that engulf the vehicles Ghost Rider hijacks look completely genuine, like the vehicle was actually roaring down the highway covered in flames. Say what you will about the non-action bits in the movie, the video quality is gold.
Directors’ Expanded Video Commentary
The Path to Vengeance: Making Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Some prominent movie websites are giving Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance extremely low
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8860[/img]marks and pelting it with negative comments; I think they are being too harsh. It’s definitely an unnecessary movie that was probably an afterthought, perhaps even proposed by Cage himself and is quite forgettable, but it’s not all terrible. The action scenes are very entertaining and isn’t that what you expect in a movie featuring a comic book character and the audio and video balance things out. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is the type of movie you can pop into your player, plop down on the couch or your favourite recliner with some snacks and drinks and unapologetically kill 95 minutes.
Recommendation: Rent it!
Watch the Official Trailer
Watch the Official Trailer