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SONY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Cast:
Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciarán Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Fergus Riordan, Spencer Wilding
Writing Credits:
Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman, David S. Goyer (and story)

Synopsis:
Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze - still struggling with his curse as the devil's bounty hunter - is hiding out in a remote part of Eastern Europe when he is recruited by a secret sect of the church to save a young boy (Fergus Riordan) from the devil (Ciaran Hinds). At first, Johnny is reluctant to embrace the power of the Ghost Rider, but it is the only way to protect the boy - and possibly rid himself of his curse forever.

Box Office:
Budget
$75 million.
Opening Weekend
$22.115 million on 3174 screens.
Domestic Gross
$51.774 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
Catalan Dolby Digital 5.1
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 6/12/2012

Bonus:
• Expanded Video Commentary
• Six Deleted Scenes
• “The Path to Vengeance” Six-Part Documentary
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 6, 2012)

While it’d be tough to classify 2007’s Ghost Rider as a hit, it did well enough to inspire a sequel – eventually. The five-year gap between Rider and 2012’s Spirit of Vengeance says to me the suits didn’t have a lot of confidence in the property but figured they’d give it another shot.

I felt the same way. The first Rider didn’t do much for me, but I maintain enough affection for comic book characters/movies to give the sequel a look.

As a kid, Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) signed a pact with the Devil – who called himself “Roarke” (Ciarán Hinds) – to save his father’s life. This left Blaze cursed to be the “Ghost Rider”, a demonic motorcycle-based avenger.

Roarke sends his minions – led by Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth) – to abduct a boy named Danny (Fergus Riordan) from a monastery. Assisted by alcoholic priest Moreau (Idris Elba), Danny and his mother Nadya (Violante Placido) escape, but Carrigan and company remain on their tail and they eventually capture him. Moreau enlists the assistance of Blaze – as the Rider – which leads to attempts to retrieve the boy as well as information about what makes Danny such a valuable property.

If nothing else, I guess Vengeance deserves credit as something different than the original movie. Many sequels do little more than rehash the first films, but that doesn’t occur here. For better or for worse, Vengeance stands on its own. (As noted in the disc’s supplements, the filmmakers essentially consider Vengeance to be more of a reboot than a sequel.)

Unfortunately, the film itself veers much closer to the “for worse” territory. I can’t say this makes it a disappointment, as the original movie did little for me. While I never thought Ghost Rider was bad, it seemed decidedly mediocre.

That left plenty of room for the sequel to improve on the original, but it didn’t. Essentially it offers a chase movie, as we follow attempts to find Danny and then efforts to keep him safe. That’s a pretty weak plot, and Vengeance does nothing creative with the narrative. We simply go along a certain path with stops for action at appropriate intervals; the movie never threatens to deliver anything creative or unusually interesting.

It also sticks us with an awful lot of clumsy exposition. At times, the story completely grinds to a halt so one character or another can explain various concepts/themes to us. Exposition can be delivered in a mix of ways, some better than others; Vengeance opts for the clunkiest methods available.

The film’s supernatural elements go nowhere, and we never develop interest in the characters. At least the first film’s Johnny had some sort of arc, but this time, he’s just a vaguely defined vigilante/protector on a bike. And for the literal spawn of Satan, Danny’s pretty dull. Hinds brings a little sense of fun to his take on the Devil, but he can’t do much to elevate the film’s overall lack of spark.

Many have bemoaned Cage’s fall from film star grace, and they’ll find nothing here to alter those opinions. Cage really does seem to take any paycheck that’ll come his way, and he’s a shell of himself at this point. He still shows vestiges of his old quirkiness but this now feels like shtick and he can’t do anything to add to the material.

Ultimately, I can’t call Vengeance a terrible movie, but I can’t think of anything about it that I much like. It creates a slow story that feels hashed together from the plots of other supernatural action thrillers. Maybe someday someone will do something good with Ghost Rider, but this flick fails to exploit the character well.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio A-/ Bonus B+

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, this was an excellent presentation.

At all times, sharpness looked terrific. I noticed no signs of softness or tentative visuals here, as the movie was consistently tight and well-defined. Moiré effects and jagged edges remained absent, and I failed to discern any edge haloes, artifacts or print flaws in this smooth image.

In terms of colors, expect a stylized palette here. Some scenes veered orange, while others went blue and still others leaned green. Within those parameters, the tones seemed solid. Blacks were deep and dense, while low-light shots demonstrated nice clarity and delineation. I felt impressed with this top-notch visual presentation.

We find more positives with the engulfing DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Vengeance. With a lot of action scenes at its disposal, the movie boasted many opportunities for immersive action, and it made the most of these. From various supernatural creatures to vehicles to explosions to gunfire, a variety of action elements filled the room and created a great sense of place. The elements seemed well-placed and blended together in a clean way to occupy the front and rear channels with lots of engaging information.

I also felt the quality of the audio satisfied. Speech was distinctive and crisp, without harshness or other concerns. Music appeared vivid and full, while effects came across as dynamic and bold. We got plenty of tight, deep bass response in this consistently strong soundtrack.

When we shift to extras, we open with an Expanded Video Commentary. In this, directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor offer occasional video “walk-ins” that plop them in front of the movie’s action while they talk. We also get standard audio commentary as well as some behind the scenes footage and a few soundbites; the latter area provides notes from actor Nicolas Cage and stunt coordinator Markus Rounthwaite.

All together, this package lasts one hour, 43 minutes, 41 seconds. Despite those aforementioned soundbites, Neveldine and Taylor run this show. They do 99 percent of the talking as they chat about story/character topics, stunts, action and effects, cast and performances, sets and locations, music and a few other production areas.

While not a bad commentary, Neveldine and Taylor joke around too much. It’s actually semi-refreshing that they don’t take their movie too seriously – they border on MST3K territory much of the time – but the orientation toward humor means that we don’t learn a ton about the movie. Granted, we get some good basics and this never becomes a bad track, but I’d prefer to hear more film facts and less comedy.

By the way, the “Video Commentary” elements don’t add a lot to the proceedings. Most of the piece runs as a standard audio commentary or just shows us the directors in front of a screen. While the occasional shots from the set are decent, they’re too infrequent to make a dent.

Six Deleted Scenes fill a total of 11 minutes, 20 seconds. We find “The Church” (1:37), “Penance Stare” (1:38), “Rental Car Scene” (3:11), “Vasil’s Fight Club” (0:49), “Wild Ride” (1:15) and “Roarke Talks Fatherly” (2:50). Most of these seem pretty forgettable, but I kind of like “Rental Car”, in which Roarke negotiates a contract. It would’ve been a story impediment in the final film, but it’s fun to see on its own.

The Path to Vengeance offers a collection of six featurettes. All together, these run one hour, 29 minutes, 58 seconds and offer notes from Neveldine, Taylor, Cage, Rounthwaite, executive producer E. Bennett Walsh, producers Ashok Amritraj and Avi and Ari Arad, VFX producer Jenny Fulle, co-producer Manu Gargi, production designer Kevin Phipps, director of photography Brandon Trost, stereographer Craig Mumma, 1st AD Sean Guest, makeup department head Jason Hamer, VFX supervisor Eric Durst, and actors Violante Placido, Fergus Riordan, Idris Elba, Ciarán Hinds and Johnny Whitworth.

“Vengeance” discusses the sequel’s roots and development, changes made from the original film, story/character areas, the original script and alterations made to it. From there we go to sets and locations, cast and performances, costumes and production design, budgetary issues and going 3D. We also hear about various effects, cinematography, stunts and action, makeup, computer-generated elements, sound design and music, and the movie’s release.

Expect a pretty complete examination of the production here. “Vengeance” covers all the requisite subjects in a reasonably complete way, so don’t expect many stones to be left unturned. The show moves at a nice pace and delivers a positive overview of the flick.

The disc starts with ads for 21 Jump Street, Lockout and Starship Troopers: Invasion. These also show up under Previews along with promos for Men in Black 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man. No trailer for Vengeance appears here.

Since the first movie was mediocre, I didn’t expect much from Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, and the flick matched those low expectations. The film just felt like it stayed stuck in neutral and had too little excitement and drama to make it work. The Blu-ray provides excellent picture and audio as well as a good set of supplements. As a Blu-ray, this release is top-notch, but the movie itself is forgettable.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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