Johnny Blaze was only a teenaged stunt biker when he sold
his soul to the devil - a misguided attempt to save his father's
life that destroyed his own. Years later, Johnny is a world-renowned
daredevil by day, but at night, he becomes the Ghost Rider
of Marvel Comics legend. The devil's bounty hunter, he is
charged with finding evil souls on earth and bringing them
to hell. But when a twist of fate brings Johnny's long-lost
love back into his life, Johnny realizes he just might have
a second chance at happiness - if he can beat the devil and
win back his soul. To do so he'll have to defeat Blackheart,
the devil's nemesis and wayward son, whose plot to take over
his father's realm will bring hell on earth - unless Ghost
Rider can stop him.
years to bring Marvel’s Ghost Rider to the production
line and also director Mark Steven Johnson’s (MSJ) countless
rewrites before the final movie is materialized on the big
screen earlier this year.
not a close follower of comic books for one so I can’t
really comment if MSJ did a good job in adapting the story
from the comics. I just pretty much have a rough sketch of
a motorcyclist turning into a flaming skull head during nightfall.
the plotting is simple. A young man, Johnny Blaze (who will
eventually grown up to be Nicolas Cage) has to trade his soul
to save his dying father not knowing he will turn into the
Ghost Rider collecting lost souls for the devil. If this is
not sticky enough, Blaze still has to deal with the son of
Satan who has a wicked agenda of his own (he’s the son
of the devil remember).
is no mythical strings attached nor is there any religious
background to the whole story. That is unless you consider
the fictional origin started way back when a cowboy ran away
with the devil’s contract worth 1000 souls. The flaming
skull is just a good excuse for the geeks to come up with
a super-cool software to accentuate and portray the realistically
rendered flames. And of course, the biggest winner has to
be none other than Nicolas Cage. An avid fan of the Ghost
Rider comics in real-life, landing the lead role gives him
the chance to put on the cheesiest performance of his career
and getting a fat pay cheque at the same time.
a motorcyclist stuntman? Cool. A motorcyclist turning into
a flaming skull riding a burning Captain America bike? That’s
cool too. Romancing the delicious Eva Mendes? That’s
way too cool! We are pretty sure Eva is pitch perfect as the
“damsel-in-distress” as we can’t figure
out why she’s here other than the mentioned factor.
Fonda plays Mephistopheles aka the Devil but unfortunately
his limited screentime leaves his character a mere cameo,
pouting some forgettable lines whenever he appears. Probably
the most miscast role has to go to Wes Bentley (touted to
be the next big thing after his role in “American Beauty”)
who played the Son of Satan. Bentley looks the least sinister
and come across like a teenage rebellious brat. His bunch
of demonic friends didn’t fare as well either. Sam Elliot
fares much better as the mysterious cemetery caretaker but
the smart audience will know who he’s actually is.
the greatest misstep in “Ghost Rider” is MSJ’s
treatment of the whole storyline. I got to admit he did a
marvelous job setting up the character and story of Johnny
Blaze. But as compared to much-lauded comic adaptations such
as “Batman Begins” and “Spider-man”,
“Ghost Rider” lacks the empathy needed for the
audience to feel for him. Yes, he is a tortured soul all right
but apparently we just can’t feel for Blaze or the people
around him. The story on the whole, seems flat and without
much ups and downs to jolt your senses.
thing that MSJ particularly did exceptional well as compared
to his previous comic adaptation, “Daredevil”
is the action sequences and flaming effects. One standup sequence
has the police chasing Ghost Rider to a bridge and the creatively
usage of camera angles to capture the flaming guy on wheels.
The CGI fire is practically faultless and deserves a technical
nomination award for it.
This 123-minutes DVD is the extended cut of the original movie.
10-minutes of additional footage focused more on the characters
buildup so don’t ransack the disc for more burning action
pieces. Although I personally feel the flaming effects if
totaled up are more than sufficient enough to grill 200 burgers
at least. So if you are not a person who will pick on bad
acting and a non-thinking script then “Ghost Rider”
is the perfect title to hitch a ride in the weekend.
I stopped my review at 666 words, not taking this sentence
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This extended cut DVD consists of 2 discs. Disc
one contains 2 commentary tracks, one by
Producer Gary Foster and the second, Director MSJ and his
visual effects supervisor Kevin Mack. The first track
has far more interesting snippets as shared by the producer.
Surprisingly, he’s quite an engaging talker. If you
just wish to go through one track, opt for this instead. The
second track by MSJ and Kevin Mack consists of more typical
PR stuff and some additional information, thoughts behind
the making. Of course and lastly, this disc stores the extended
cut of the film. Take note you can’t view the additional
footage separately though.
Lastly, some trailers from Sony's upcoming releases to round
up Disc One.
Disc Two has 3 making of documentaries, first
up is the “Spirit of Vengeance” which
touches on the cast and crew interview, behind-the-scenes
during the shoot which took place in Sydney back in 2005.
“Spirit of Adventure” shows you
the hard work taken to custom-make the motorcycle and the
costumes, stunts etc. The last, “Spirit of Execution”
focus on the post-production, which includes foley, sound
mix and visual effects. These are pretty good features which
showed a lot of raw footage and actual scenes from the shooting.
Altogether, it runs at an approximate length of 80 minutes
and worthy of your time.
Next it’s a pretty long segment called “Sin
& Salvation: Featurettes Chronicling 40 Years of Ghost
Rider Comic Book History” which has a rough
duration of 50 minutes. If you are a newbie to the comics,
I suggest you jump straight to this feature before embarking
on the movie. There are interviews with the writers and artists
in addition to artworks from the past comics which illustrate
Ghost Rider’s origins from the 70s to 2000s.
In "Animatics", visual effects
in their rough, unfinished form are shown.
This is absolutely one of the best transfer ever seen on DVD
this year. Dark and bluish colours dominated the movie throughout
but the colour reproduction is highly detailed and rich. Images
are sharp and watch out for the flaming sequences, it’s
definitely stunning and you might need a pair of Ray-ban just
in both English Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS, the sound is so
clear that you can hear every crackling sizzling flame, Christopher
Young’s score and the chessy dialogue. Crank up the
system during the action sequences and hear the motorcycle
Rider” is not exactly one of the best comic adaptations
around. But it easily beat MSJ’s “Daredevil”
and a couple less worthy titles liked “Elecktra”.
Looks liked MSJ is getting better and better. With top-notch
visual effects and action spectacles, this 2-Disc edition
is the perfect getaway and one collection worthy of your home
theater system. That shimmering DVD cover helps too.
by Linus Tee