Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Blu-ray review -

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Blu-ray review

Mania Grade: D-

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  • Rated: PG-13
  • Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba
  • Writer: David S. Goyer, Scott Gimple
  • Director: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
  • Distributor: Sony Home Entertainment
  • Original Year of Release: 2012
  • Extras: See Below
  • Series:

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Blu-ray review

A flaming disaster

By Tim Janson     June 24, 2012

I’ve got a couple of theories as to why there have been two Ghost Rider films, especially a second film after the first was almost universally panned…First off, the film rights to Marvel’s characters are spread out over numerous studios…Sony/Columbia has rights to Ghost Rider and Spider-Man with Fox having rights to the X-Men and all related characters as well as the Fantastic Four, while Paramount and Disney have a joint operating agreement on the Avengers and related characters films.  Disney distributes, Paramount gets royalties, etc…So basically with the Avengers coming out Sony likely figured all things Marvel would be hot and decided to try and take advantage of that fact.  Secondly, and more to the point…Ghost Rider is a guy with a flaming skull who rides a motorcycle.  Never mind that he’s never been more than a second tier character, flaming skulls are cool.  Well, not so much. 
Look I love Ghost Rider.  I love the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider and I love the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider, but the Producers of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance need to be hit with the penance stare.  This film is to the Ghost Rider franchise what Punisher: War Zone was to the Punisher franchise, a low-budget, corner-cutting, abysmal mess.  Low budget is relative.  $57 million isn’t exactly paltry but it’s exactly half the budget of the original film and it shows.  The opening credits and prologue use an animated, comic book style look which screams cheesy, to retell Ghost Rider’s origin.   
When my fellow Mania Reviewer Rob Vaux reviewed the theatrical version a few months back he noted that “You can spot the central problem with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance with that little "PG-13" rating in the corner.  Let me tell you another way you can spot a central problem…it’s with the meager 95-minute runtime of which the opening and end credits take up at least 10 minutes of the time.  So what we end up with is this abridged clutter of chases and fights and zero character development.  
A French priest named Moreau (Elba) tracks down Johnny Blaze in Europe to help him rescue a boy named Danny from a gang of thugs who plan to turn him over to Roarke, aka, The Devil (Hinds).  In return, Moreau says he can remove the Ghost Rider curse from Blaze.  That truly is all that there is of the film’s plot which makes most comic books look like the works of Hemingway.  Danny is apparently the offspring of the Devil and his mother, after she made a deal to save her life. 
In the first Ghost Rider film the character at least looked good…Here he looks like he and his motorcycle have been dipped in hot tar.  Both are covered in a grimy, ashy soot for some reason.  Oh yeah right, it was probably a lot cheaper.  Ghost Rider moves like a spirit from a J-horror film, all jerky and stunted like he’s learning to walk for the first time.  And when did Blaze start having a more traumatic transformation than Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk?  Blaze spasms and flops about like a live fish on a hot griddle.  If that were not bad enough, Cage ups the ante with perhaps the most bizarre performance of his career (and THAT is an achievement) playing Blaze like a meth addict going through withdrawals. 
The film can’t even hang its hat on solid action sequences.  In one scene, Ghost Rider is taken down by a hit from a grenade launcher, putting Blaze into the hospital.  Yet later he shrugs off multiple hits from a shoulder mounted missile launcher.  And excuse me if I have a hard time believing that Ghost Rider can have his deal with the Devil nullified by essentially saying a few Hail Marys.  
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is proof positive that not every Marvel character can turn to gold.  When the film came out, there was a huge outcry in the comic community over the fact that co-creator Gary Friedrich was not given any credit or royalties from the film.  After seeing this film Friedrich probably would have paid them NOT to use his name. 


Audio/Video Commentary – Directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor provide commentary with picture-in-a-picture featurettes and interviews during the feature film.  The thing that came through to me while watching a bit of this was that these two guys come across at a couple of major fanboys.

Deleted Scenes (11:20) – Several cut or expanded scenes are included such as Blaze going into a church and fighting off his transformation, and Roark renting a car.

Path to Vengeance: the Making of Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance (1:29:00) – Talk about audacious…You’ve got to have some serious stones to add a documentary that is as long as the feature film when the feature is THIS bad.  It does have one very important aspect however.  Neveldine and Taylor discuss the original David S. Goyer stripped that was reportedly much more violent and would have had an “R” rating.  The reason the script wasn’t used?  Because they said it could not make money.  One of the pair even mentioned that the “R” rated film “The Hangover” didn’t make money?  Huh?  What?  Hey guys…the Hangover made close to half a billion dollars…or in terms maybe you can understand, nearly FOUR TIMES what Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance made.  So much for that theory. 


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Wyldstaar 6/24/2012 3:10:47 PM

It's a shame that GR: SoV managed to make a tiny bit of money.  If it had been as big a bomb as Punisher: War Zone, maybe Sony would allow the license to revert back to Marvel the way that Lionsgate did for The Punisher.  I suppose it's still possible that Sony will let the character go, though.  He's no Spider-Man.

InnerSanctum 6/24/2012 4:01:55 PM

 Wow.  I have zero interest in sitting through this one.  

BTW, how do you not get the Punisher right? Such an easy premise.  

Sigh, I wish we could see the characters from the Avengers interact with the X-Men and FF.  Maybe someday.  Loved it when the blue furry Beast was on the Avengers team.  

hanso 6/24/2012 4:08:00 PM

 This thing is complete and utter  

Hookedonavengers2012 6/24/2012 4:51:23 PM

 I agree...G.R. sofv....gave me narca....zzzzzzzzzzzz......what?....ohhh gave me narcalepsy....zzzzzzzzzz...what? oh yeah, who do I sue for this?....zzzzzzz.....'m a vic.......zzzzzzzzzzzz.....tim....

slobbers in my sleep...

TheSilentKiller 6/24/2012 6:33:33 PM

 Neveldine and Taylor should have their film-making rights revoked, and be permitted to work solely on Uwe Boll joints.

RedHood2010 6/24/2012 6:39:01 PM

I rented it today to watch with my boys and they were ready to turn it off 15 mins in.  I was hoping for something I could watch.  Apart from the obvious that this one sucked, I just couldn't understand why Cage played his character like he didn't know what to do with him?  He had the 1st movie to deal with what he had become and then time between the last movie and this one, yet when he 'turns' he dosen't know how to 'be the Ghost Rider' and gets his ass handed to him?  And yes, he took crazy to a new level in the few scenes I watched.

SinisterPryde 6/24/2012 7:05:02 PM

Confession: I liked this movie.  I didn't love it and I hardly think it was a "good" movie but I just had fun watching Cage go freaky and Ghost Rider is visually cool.  Even the sooty version.  

I was confused by what they were attempting to do with this film.  The origin sequence at the beginning showed a very different version of the origina in the first movie.  I remember hearing it was a "soft" reboot rather than a sequel.  That would have been fine had they racast Johnny Blaze but they kept Cage?  What the hell for?  I think that confused most people.

I also enjoyed Punisher: War Zone more than the previous two versions.  I guess I am just a fan of bad movies.  I won't defend them, I know they're bad but I still enjoyed them.

I can't really see Sony doing another Ghost Rider so I imagine that the license will revert to Marvel/Disney at some point in the near future though I can't see them ever making another GR movie.

I am also confused by the logic that "R"-rated films don't make money.  The Matrix and The Hangover were both R-Rated and made bank.  Also, Ghost Rider is not too high above Blade in terms or name recognition.  The Blade films were all rated R and did fairly well for themselves.  Sony, if it ever does make another GR film needs to get past the idea that just because it was a comic book it doesn't mean it has to be "family friendly". 

Betenoire 6/25/2012 12:19:21 AM

@SinisterPryde The biggest problem with R rated movies seems to be the performance of the Punisher & War Journal but also the perception that Watchmen was a tremendous flop as after that film word started sneaking out that R rated comic movies were dead. Given it is Hollywood it isn't surprising they jumped at any explaination that isn't "Hey, we make bad movies (note-not saying Watchmen was bad, it wasn't by far) but welcome to the Hollywood boardroom I guess.

On the other hand let a few more comic movies make some decent to serious bank and I won't be surprised to see movie studios going fishing through some comic company backlogs for ideas again which may lead to another R rated picture. 

Wiseguy 6/25/2012 6:43:49 AM

I kept dozing off when I went to see this film so I don't feel like I can give it a fair assesment yet. It wasn't the film that was putting me out, I was exhausted and I know better yet I tried to watch the final.

The R rated superhero film is very hard to pull off because it does away with the a huge part of the base, the kids. I think Watchmen and Blade are by far the best R rated films in the genre and despite its huge fanbase it wasn't the hit you'd think based on the established fanbase for Watchmen. Wanted, although change from the comic, and Kick Ass are another 2 that didn't make the bank that would intice studios to keep making them. SUPER was another.

I think the Blade and  KickAss way is the way to go til something changes, small budget, that's it. Small budget where you can claim success with 100mil or less.

Mossy1221 6/25/2012 7:59:37 AM

 I am not a die hard Ghost Rider fan. And I really enjoy the first film. Even purchased it on dvd.  But SoV was absolute utter crap!  The worst CBM I have ever seen.   

SoV is not even as good as a Sci-Fi channel made for t.v. movie.   They could have even put Kristen Stewart in that film and made it better. (And I can not stand Kristen Stewart. (Worst actress ever.)

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