Tags: 3D, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, Brian Taylor, Ciaran Hinds, Fergus Riordan, Ghost Rider, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Mark Neveldine, Neveldine / Taylor, Nicolas Cage, Sony, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, UltraViolet
has an average rating of 4.5 on IMDb
to be converted it actually looks good
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
are very lengthy with a 3D featurette
– 95 minutes
– A & B
Blu-ray uses 46.1GB total.
Blu-ray 3D uses 23.6GB for the movie out of 43.3GB total.
Overall Verdict – So-So Film / Great Presentation
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself is the not really a sequel to the film adaptation of “Ghost Rider” from 2007 but instead more of a reboot. It’s based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. This film was directed by the team of Neveldine / Taylor (Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor) best known for directing the films “Crank” (2006), “Crank: High Voltage” (2009) and “Gamer” (2009). The original story was written by David S. Goyer who would later adapt it into screenplay with two other co-writers.
The story here starts out introducing us to a motorcycle-riding French priest by the name of “Moreau” (played by Idris Elba) who is trying to work with a group of priests to get a boy in hiding. We aren’t at first why this boy is of interest to either Moreau, the priests or those trying to capture him from them. An attack by the rival faction trying to get their hands on the boy comes and is led by a man by the name of “Ray Carrigan” (played by Johnny Whitworth). Carrigan and his men will stop at nothing to find this boy for the man they’re working for. Unfortunately for them though the boy “Danny” (played by Fergus Riordan) and his mother “Nadya” (played by Violante Placido) manage to escape the giant castle they were using as a place as refuge. They get out and manage to try to make their escape via a car chase that the character Moreau joins them in via his motorcycle. This has a bit of back and forth and even a point where it looks like Moreau is going to help them get away but in the end they manage to end up in the hands of Carrigan and his thugs. Happy that he’s got the boy in his possession Carrigan makes a phone call to the man he’s working for to inform him of the good news. It’s here that we are introduced to the devil in human form, going by the name of “Roarke” (played by Ciarán Hinds). He’s very anxious to get his hands on Danny, yet we don’t know what his intentions are for wanting the child.
Meanwhile while all that is happening the priest from earlier Moreau manages to come across a man who he thinks can help him rescue the boy. The man he comes across is none other than “Johnny Blaze” a.k.a. “Ghost Rider” (played by Nicolas Cage). We see that Johnny Blaze has been living in seclusion over the past bit here in Europe. He’s very unhappy to a first see Moreau and secondly at first very unwilling to even consider taking on the job of trying to find the boy. He tells him that he simply doesn’t save people but Moreau offers him a reason to consider doing so. Moreau tells Blaze that if he manages to find the boy and bring him to safety that he’ll help him get the curse of the “Ghost Rider” lifted. He got this curse we learn from brief flashbacks by signing a contract with the devil to save his father. As a result he’s been turned into this demon that feeds on the souls of the evil. This may sound cool on paper but Johnny Blaze has grown tired of having no control of when he’s turned into the rider. So he agrees to help try to find the boy and that sets up the basic plot — as weak as it is — for the film.
“Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” was disliked both by critics and moviegoers. In fact, it holds a very weak 18% (out of 100%) on the “tomatometer” over at Rotten Tomatoes and a weak 4.5 star rating (out of 10) over at IMDb. According to Box Office Mojo the film reportedly cost 57 million dollars to make and only ended up grossing 51 million dollars domestic. Safe to say it was a failure for the studio and a failure with audiences.
As I mentioned earlier this was a “reboot” of sorts and technically not a sequel. That being said, my biggest complaint here isn’t the weakness of the story (plot), although that is a definite issue, but instead I disliked how little time was spent on re-introducing us to the main character. They only opted for less than 2 minutes of cheesy animation and a bit of black & white video flashbacks to tell us the origin of the superhero (character). Sure, they were “banking on” the fact most of the audience had seen the 2007 film or just were fans of the original comics but there actually ARE people who didn’t see the 2007 film or read the comics’ origin story.
Another thing here I disliked about the film (without dishing out “spoilers”) was the ending. I know that fans of the comics were or would be disappointed by this as well. This just wasn’t the “Ghost Rider” we knew from the Marvel comics over the years. Nicolas Cage seems to have put way too much of his own personal touch on the character, which is a shame; as he claims to actually be a fan of the original comics. Also, I feel the two directors (Neveldine/Taylor) put too much of their own filmmaking style into it and didn’t focus enough on first having a strong plot or fixing holes in the plot. I’m sure that original script that David S. Goyer wrote that was adapted here was a hell of a lot cooler and had a whole lot more substance to it than what we get here.
Finally, I’ll end by saying that it disappoints me as well that Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor as filmmakers (directors) put a really flawed work in their track record of films. Their previous three major films (“Crank“, “Crank: High Voltage” and “Gamer“) all proved to me personally and to audiences to be enjoyable. However this film just fails, feels wrong and doesn’t even come close to holding a flame to them in comparison to those three films (pun intended). It’s not the worst superhero movie I’ve ever seen but it’s definitely the worst film these two guys have made to-date. Sure, it has SOME occasional cool visual effects, explosions, great cinematography and whatnot but that just can’t make it anywhere near being more than mediocre at best.
Let me first start off by saying that this film was NOT shot on 3D cameras — it was shot in 2D using primarily a very high resolution digital camera (the Red One MX) that shoots at 4.5K resolution. It was converted in post-production from 2D to 3D. However, doing a little research you’ll find that the film was originally slated to be shot in 3D — as reported by ScreenRant.com back in August of 2010. Instead though they opted to go 2D. This choice had a lot to do with the weight of 3D cameras and how the filmmakers like to do a more hands on approach to their filmmaking using a lot of handheld cameras. They couldn’t do that with huge 3D cameras on cranes.
The 2D to 3D post-production conversion here was primarily (all but just a few minutes) handled by the folks over at Gener8 who have a pretty nice write-up on the project you can read HERE. The result is full of 3D “pop” and has some nice dimension effects on walls and other objects. It’s not the most impressive 2D to 3D conversion I’ve seen to-date but it does prove to be solid and definitely has its moments. Keep in mind that this is from the same folks that did the 2D to 3D conversions for films like “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2“, “Priest” and most recently “Wrath of the Titans” from 2012. None of these titles were known for especially being all that impressive, however this proves to be possibly their best effort to-date, as even they said in some of that write-up I linked to earlier in this section. This conversion holds a decent amount of 3D to it. Enough 3D to keep you entertained with a film that I have to admit is pretty mediocre. There’s some occasions you’ll see stuff like the flames coming out of “Ghost Rider” through his skull or from his motorcycle pop out at you a tad through the 3D or instances of his flaming chains doing just that as well. My favorite 3D moment in the entire film has to be the scene that was shot on the Phantom HD Gold camera at 1,000 frames-per-second where Idris Elba‘s character “Moreau” jumps off a cliff and turns around to fire at a vehicle — as seen HERE in a screenshot. This really was impressive, it’s just a shame the whole film’s 3D presentation couldn’t be that strong. All and all this earns a solid “4 Star Rating” for it’s 3D quality.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. According to the technical specifications on IMDb this was shot in 2D digitally primarily in 4.5K resolution on the Red One MX camera. At least one scene however was shot using the Phantom HD Gold camera to achieve 1,000 frames-per-second — which was also digital.
First thing you’ll notice here is the amazing amount of detail in every single shot. You’ll also notice that this has some really awesome cinematography thanks to the DP (director of photography) Brandon Trost. The black level is perfectly solid, the flesh tones are accurate and the color palette is pretty vibrant, although a tad bit subdued at times, for the live-action material. The CG animated material such as the “Ghost Rider” skull, flames and effects on his motorcycle all come across very impressive here in Hi-Def and hold a great amount of bold vibrance to the fire. It seems pretty realistic, to a degree. The other special effects such as explosions, car chases, gun fights an whatnot also come across very impressive in Hi-Def. Simply put this looks pretty damn amazing visually. No signs of any compression or problems with excessive digital noise here. It looks great but that is usually to be expected from something shot on the Red One MX camera. That being said this earns itself a downright impressive and perfect “5 Star Rating” for overall video quality. I can’t find a single thing to complain about here in the Hi-Def presentation.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. Things start up with the amazing original music by David Sardy that ranges from traditional score style to downright rock sounding guitars. It gets one hell of a presentation across the 5.1 soundscape with excellent rear channel and LFE (bass) presence throughout the film. Dialogue and narration (a times) gets delivered very distinctly through the front center channel speaker and is never once overpowered by any of the film’s action or original music. Speaking of action, the sound effects here are downright bad-ass, especially those for “Ghost Rider” when he approaches on his motorcycle. The approach of the rider also comes with lots of LFE and some trippy rear channel effects as well; almost like he’s beginning to surround you like the bad guys. Every other sound effect, be it gunshots, cars crashing, motorcycles revving up or even the always popular explosions all sound downright impressive here. The audio presentation isn’t exactly something I’d deem worthy of calling “demo material” yet it does deliver a near perfect 5.1 lossless mix. That being said this earns a very impressive “4.5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality. It came very, very close to earning a perfect score for audio. Let that certainly be noted.
Bonus Materials on this release are ALL presented in full 1080p Hi-Def (HD) video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @192kbps sound.
- A Blu-ray Disc including a 2D version of the film in full 1080p Hi-Def video in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio and DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.
- Deleted Scenes (11:20 – HD) include a total of six.
- “Directors’ Expanded Video Commentary” is similar to the “Maximum Movie Mode” experience that Warner does on their Blu-ray Disc releases. This has the two directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor on-screen going through the film with you by offering commentary and glimpses at videos of behind-the-scenes footage and even some interviews with star Nicolas Cage. The two directors offer up some pretty fun bits of commentary and jokes here. This doesn’t play the film normally though, they’ll be pausing it and taking up the entire screen for video commentary or to play videos whenever they feel like it. It also as a result isn’t using Picture-In-Picture and does NOT require you to be on a Blu-ray Disc player that is capable of the “Bonus View” feature. This is a standalone set of video on the disc and not PIP. In fact, as a result it has a runtime of around an hour and 45 minutes total — about 15 minutes over the actual runtime of the film itself.
- “The Path to Vengeance” (1:29:58 – HD) is a six-part documentary on the making of the film. This is VERY in-depth as you can tell by the hour and a half runtime. It includes interviews with the producers, the directors (Neveldine/Taylor) as well other members of the crew and even with star Nicolas Cage discussing the process of getting the film made. You’ll learn here that this film is NOT a sequel and is intended more as a “reboot” instead that Nic Cage seems to been the main backer of. There’s absolutely tons of on set footage, behind-the-scenes glimpses and info on how things were done such as the CG animation, stunts, cinematography and whatnot. This proves to be very informative and worthwhile; especially if you actually enjoyed the film.
- “Riding Into Another Dimension” (7:07 – 3D HD) is a 3D featurette discussing how the film was actually shot in 2D and converted in post-production to 3D. The directors, DP (director of photography) and a producer all chime in with interviews discussing the decision to shoot in 2D and convert to 3D. This featurette is an EXCLUSIVE to the Blu-ray 3D version and is NOT found on the standard Blu-ray. I wasn’t really too impressed with the 3D here, as it didn’t seem to honestly have any “pop” or depth to it what-so-ever. The featurette proved to be informative, sure, but 3D I’m not so sure. It just requires you to put the glasses on as far as I could tell. They didn’t seem to be necessary though as its 3D was pretty flat.
- An UltraViolet streaming/downloadable digital copy of the film is included via a paper insert in the packaging that includes a URL and code to redeem it.
Bonus Materials on the Blu-ray:
Bonus Material on the Blu-ray 3D:
Overall the bonus materials here actually prove to be pretty decent. You get 11 minutes of deleted scenes, an hour and a half six-part documentary on the making of the film, the video commentary hosted by the directors that totals up to an hour and 45 minutes roughly and an UltraViolet digital copy of the film. Also, if you opt for the Blu-ray 3D you’ll get an exclusive 3D featurette that discussing how the film was shot in 2D and converted to 3D. Note that featurette is an exclusive to the 3D release and is not found on the standard Blu-ray release.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.