follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Ghost Rider (Two-Disc Extended Cut) (2007)

"Call me old-fashioned. I'm funny the way human sacrifice makes me uncomfortable."
- Mack (Donal Logue)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: June 26, 2007

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Wes Bentley
Other Stars: Sam Elliott, Donal Logue, Peter Fonda, Brett Cullen
Director: Mark Steven Johnson

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, demonic possession, scary images, some language)
Run Time: 02h:03m:27s
Release Date: June 12, 2007
UPC: 043396196643
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BAA- B+

DVD Review

As Marvel Comics continues to mine its library of characters for subject material for cmotion pictures, the A-list has been pretty well covered and the B-list is getting worked over as well. But one of the more intriguing and graphically arresting characters in the Marvel universe, the Ghost Rider, really couldn't be brought to the screen until digital effects caught up with the requirements of the character. But in 2007 effects have finally advanced to the point that the character can work, and it doesn't hurt to have comics fan Nicolas Cage as your leading man, either.

Motorcycle stunt rider Johnny Blaze (Cage) hides a secret: as a teenager, he sold his soul to the devil, Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda), in an ill-starred deal to cure his father, Barton Blaze (Brett Cullen), of cancer. Despite the devil's cruel twisting of the deal by killing Barton by other means, Johnny's soul is on the hook, to serve when called upon. What he doesn't realize is that his service will take the form of being the Ghost Rider, a flame-headed, motorcycle-riding skeleton clad in black leathers. The devil's son, Blackheart (Wes Bentley) is the Ghost Rider's first mission, since the proud youngster is determined to make his own Hell on Earth (starting in West Texas), rivalling his father for power. Having just found his lost love, Roxanne Simpson (Eva Mendes), Johnny may lose her as Blackheart notices that she is Johnny's (and hence, the Ghost Rider's) weak point.

Fans of the comic book will note that writer/director Mark Steven Johnson has picked and chosen from several different incarnations of the Ghost Rider character, borrowing the Blaze and Simpson characters and basic situation from the 1970s version, while keeping the intensely dark look and black leathers (with spikes) of the 1990s version created by Javier Saltares and Mark Texeira; thankfully they opted not to go for the 1970s version's powder blue jumpsuit. At the same time, there's an inclusion of the Western version from the 1950s and 60s in a few sequences, making the tradition of the Ghost Riders one that has existed throughout history (and incidentally opens the door to plenty of prequels, if desired). Given the somewhat mashed together stories, the result works surprisingly well, with the romantic interest of the original tied to the grim rider after vengeance of the 1990s personification. There are some nicely comic moments, such as the awkward sequence in which Johnny attempts to explain to Roxanne exactly what has happened to him.

Cage has a good deal of fun with Blaze, which strikes me as much better casting than his long-rumored stint as Superman, which just seemed totally wrong. Blaze as a result comes off as a man who has made a mistake for which he keeps paying, tormenting himself long before Ghost Rider ever shows up on the scene. At the same time he exults in the raw power of hellfire and brimstone as he starts to enjoy his role as devil's henchman, with a delightful raving as the bony avenger breaks free of his fleshly prison. The effects work is particularly excellent in the first transformation sequence, as Cage's skin appears to be burning off, filled half with terror and half with ecstasy. The flame effects are far superior to any digital fire seen to date, which is hugely important in a film where the protagonist's head and hands are flames, as are the wheels of his motorcycle and even the tracks of his bike as it flashes past. Occasionally the skull doesn't look quite right, but for the most part it has all the visual impact that Texeira's inking brought to the page.

This two-disc edition features an extended cut that includes several additional sequences, mostly providing additional character and backstory moments. The result has the unfortunate consequence of delaying Ghost Rider's first appearance until nearly an hour into the movie. But the result gets us more of Peter Fonda's darkly comic yet sinister Mephistopheles, which makes it worth the wait. The villains still seem rather weak, and their powers (as well as Ghost Rider's) seem a little arbitrary at times, but the additional information helps ground the story better and leave it a shade less unsatisfying. There is still plenty of fun to be had, and fans of the comic need not fear disappointment, while it's still fairly accessible for those not familiar with the character. Granted, there are still some gaping holes, but those have always been a problem with the character: why is the devil giving this power to someone who is doing good? The notion of acting as Mephistopheles' bounty hunter and returning errant spirits to Hell kind of answers that question, but not sufficiently. Nevertheless, if one doesn't think about it too hard, there's still plenty to enjoy here.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen transfer is gorgeous, with excellent rendering of some extremely dark sequences and good shadow detail. Sony seems to have finally learned to lay off of the excessive edge enhancement, because there's virtually none to be seen here. Color is excellent, as is detail and texture. There is very little to complain about here.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 audio tracks have reasonably good impact, with occasionally jarring surround effects that come alive in startling fashion. The soundtrack is clean and has first-class range. Dialogue is clean and crisp.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Spider-Man 3, The Messengers, Across the Universe, Premonition, Blood and Chocolate, Hellboy
2 Documentaries
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1) writer/director Mark Steven Johnson, special effects supervisor Kevin Mack; 2) producer Cary Foster
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Animatics
Extras Review: The first disc features a group of trailers, but not a single trailer or teaser for the feature, which is a hugely annoying omission. The disc does offer a pair of commentaries that are quite informative, although they cover much of the same territory. The producer's commentary is fairly dispensable, but neither one has many dead spots. The director's commentary (but not the producer's) also offers a Spanish subtitle track, with the naughty words snipped out. The second disc has two lengthy documentaries: a feature-length "making of" with a ton of behind-the-scenes footage and unfinished footage. It's a bit arbitrarily broken into three half-hour sections. Similarly, the 46m:04s documentary on the comic character's evolution (with interviews from such luminaries as Roy Thomas, Mike Ploog, Texeira and writer Howard Mackie) is broken down by decade, topping off with some hints as to where the character is going in the future. Finally, there's a 3m:32s sequence of animatics of the Ghost Rider in action that shows how the studio was sold on the possiiblities of the movie. It's a solid set of bonus material that should satisfy (other than the missing trailer, and a series of deleted scenes still missing from this edition burt referenced in the commentaries).

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

A surprisingly faithful adaptation of several generations of comic book stories, with a lovely transfer and some substantial extras to boot. But where's the trailer?


Back to top

Microsoft Store

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store