A character as bizarre and dark as the Ghost Rider is really only a match for one director, or should I say one pair of directors. Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, known mostly for their work on Crank and its equally awesome sequel, head up the dark re-imaging/sequel of Ghost Rider titled Spirit of Vengeance. This time around Nic Cage goes fully bananas and Idris Elba tags along for the ride. It’s horribly awesome and brilliantly dumb, which makes about as much sense as the actual film itself.
Johnny Blaze (Nic Cage) is on the run from himself. He’s learning to keep the rider locked up inside, which means no flaming skull for him and no death for others. He’s relocated in a part of the world that consists of a lot of rocks and very little authority. Hoping to rid himself of this wretched curse he seeks out (or gets sought out by) Moreau (Idris Elba). Moreau is a motorcycle ridin’, wine drinkin’ monk with a bit of a wild side and he compliments Blaze perfectly.
The two get thrown into a bit of a situation when they find out an innocent boy is somehow linked to the Devil/Roarke (Ciarán Hinds). If the boy is successfully sacrificed than Roarke will regain full power and cause destruction on Earth.
Blaze must call upon the rider once more to save the boy.
I’m not going to sugar coat this at all; Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is ridiculous. It’s horribly acted, confusingly shot and all over the place as far as maintaining an actual story. It makes little sense in the directions in goes in, yet I couldn’t stop laughing and clapping my hands. It’s done up the only way directors Neveldine/Taylor know how to do, which is with the volume set to 10. Stuff happens that makes absolutely no sense, but you just kind of go with it, because that’s how the two work.
If you don’t like their storytelling methods then you’ll at least be able to appreciate their filmmaking. The way they use a camera is unheard of, with one of the two literally throwing himself off of a cliff to get the shot he wants. The two take all the risks in the world in securing enough adrenaline-fueled action sequences that play out like a video game, but what they excel in visuals they lack in story.
Spirit of Vengeance is much worse than their other films because it actually follows something they didn’t write. Neveldine/Taylor work best with stuff they’ve come up with and it shows in this one. As wacky and crazy as they make the film, it eventually fizzles down and gets boring in a hurry.
Nicolas Cage fully embraces the madness as the rider. This time around he’s much more laughable and easy going, which counteracts the dark and disturbing rider, which we don’t see nearly enough of. Idris Elba hams it up as Moreau the alcoholic, but his moments are far too brief.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is far superior to the original film, but only because Neveldine/Taylor take so many liberties in the visual department. They really do know how to shoot and edit some remarkable action sequences, but they struggle trying to make the story stick, especially when the characters aren’t as fun and energetic as they are filmmakers.
Still, the film works the first time around. It might lose its appeal with repeat viewings, but you’ll be laughing at just how out of control the whole thing is.
The package comes to Blu-Ray with 2D and 3D video transfers. The 2D presentation is excellent, with strong detail and lots of varying colors. The 3D leaves a lot to be desired, which isn’t a surprise since the film was shot in 2D and post-converted to 3D. Some scenes have added depth, but most feel stretched and narrow.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is booming and blaring, with bullets flying at what almost seems to be 15 minute intervals. This is another aggressive track from Sony, which shouldn’t come as any surprise.
Here’s a list of bonus content featured on the both the discs:
- 2D & 3D versions of the film
- Director’s Expanded Video Commentary (HD)
- Deleted Scenes (HD)
- The Path to Vengeance – Making Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (HD)
- Previews (HD)
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is not for everyone. There are a few things that you’ll need to check off your list before buying this title. Do you like Neveldine/Taylor‘s previous films, such as Crank and/or Gamer? Do you like Nicolas Cage, especially when he takes over-the-top roles? Do you like comic book characters, more importantly Ghost Rider?
If you answered yes to all of those above then you’ll enjoy Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. If you didn’t answer yes to the first two then I’d approach this one carefully, because it’s no masterpiece, but it is very entertaining, at least once.
The Blu-Ray looks great in 2D and kind of shallow in 3D, which leaves me to believe that only films shot in 3D should exist! The audio track is exhilarating and the special features are lengthy at times (especially the Making Of feature).
Turn off your brain, butter up the popcorn and have a laugh or two at Neveldine/Taylor and partially Nic Cage‘s expense. After all, it’s just a movie.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is completely ludicrous, but still worth at least one viewing, if only for Nic Cage's energetic performance and Neveldine/Taylor's outlandish filmmaking. The Blu-Ray only amplifies all of the above.