Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
As Marvel’s comic characters go, Ghost Rider is hellishly hard to categorize. From what I can gather from the character’s two films, 2007’s Ghost Rider and this sequel (I’m not a fan of the comics), Johnny Blaze is a motorcycle stunt rider who sells his soul to the devil to save his father’s life. In exchange, he periodically turns into an ancient, fiery demon that searches out evil to suck out its soul. A bummer for sure, but everybody needs a hobby. His motorcycle has apparently sold its carburetor and tires to Beelzebub as well, since whenever Johnny goes all flames and stuff, he’s also treated to one hell of a ride. Talk about sitting on the hot seat.
Johnny’s pursuit of evil soon puts him at odds with his old helpmate Satan, who has spawned a son to take over the family business. When a rogue priest promises to free Johnny from the spell if he saves the boy from Lucifer’s clutches, he takes up the challenge. But first he has to fight off a nasty band of kidnappers, including their rotter of a leader, who ends up as a zombie with power over darkness and decay.
The movie is little more than a succession of action scenes strung together by a thin plot, running a mercifully short 95 minutes (although it seemed much longer). The actors do their best to keep things at least modestly interesting. Nicolas Cage gobbles up more scenery than a giant termite in an exterminator commercial. A scene in which he fights off turning into Ghost Rider is almost worth the price of rental. Almost. Idris Elba, who has been busy since we first noticed him in Thor, does the best he can to earn his pay. And Ciarán Hinds as the devil looks constantly grumpy and uncomfortable as he ponders how his fortunes have changed since Rome. But hell (or—inside joke alert—Mars) is not a happy meal.
At least the movie looks and sounds great. The crisp, clean video transfer could hardly be bettered. And while I preferred the movie in 2D, the 3D was effective without being overly gimmicky or distracting. And if you can overlook the obnoxious score (or like your action cues with a giant helping of heavy metal), the audio mix was appropriately vivid, spacious, and generous with its active surrounds and deep bass.
The extras include deleted scenes, a full-length director’s commentary, and an extended making-of documentary for those who just can’t get enough of Ghost Rider.
Studio: Sony Pictures, 2012
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 95 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Directors: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciarán Hinds