Ghost Rider: 2-Disc Extended Cut – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director

Mark Steven Johnson

Cast

Nicolas Cage Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider
Eva Mendes Roxanne Simpson
Sam Elliott Caretaker
Wes Bentley Blackheart
Donal Logue Mack
Peter Fonda Mephistopheles

DVD Release Date: June 12, 2007
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 123 Minutes

The Movie

Johnny Blaze is a stuntman that risks life and limb every single night he goes to work. Always chancing the possibility that something could go wrong, like falling a tad short of his landing ramp or being an inch too far to the right and catching his arm on fire. But those things don’t bother Johnny because he has come to grips with the fact that he can’t die, and that makes his life a living hell.

Years ago, Johnny’s father was dying of cancer and he was willing to do anything he possibly could to take the pain away and save his dad’s life. Running out of options, Johnny sold his soul to the devil and now he can’t die until Mephistopheles allows him too. Not only causing everlasting turmoil for Johnny, but it also made him leave behind his one true love, Roxanne, because he knew this wasn’t a life she could understand: A stuntman with a life on the road and night after night of loneliness.

Yes, that is the life of one Johnny Blaze. That is until Mephistopheles returns and calls upon their contract for Johnny’s soul and the requirements he must now fulfill for his part of the bargain. Mephistopheles is in grave danger. Yes, even the Lord Of Darkness can fall into the path of trouble once and again, and he needs Johnny’s services to help him. Bestowing upon him an ancient power, Johnny now has the ability to turn into a fiery-skull, chain-wielding hell’s henchman that rides a flaming motorcycle and destroys evil.

Standing in his path is the evil Blackheart and his minions. Blackheart seeks out an ancient scroll that holds the power of thousands of souls that he could use to overtake his father, Mephistopheles, and take his “rightful” place as the ruler of Hell. Johnny must try to come to grips with his newfound power and stop Blackheart before it is too late. And even though he is witnessed by many during his illuminating night rides, only Roxanne and a cemetery caretaker know his true identity. And thanks to the caretaker having an odd amount of knowledge about Johnny’s condition, he just may be able to fulfill his part of the contract.

As someone who read the comic book growing up, but not being a rabid fan, I sincerely enjoyed Ghost Rider. After it was released in theaters, fanboys and critics alike ripped it to shreds claiming how blasphemous it was that the story didn’t focus on the comics as much as it should have. Question is, why would you want to see the exact same thing you’ve already about maybe twenty times? The changes made don’t make it an excellent film, but still make for a good time.

Nicolas Cage plays the part of Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider perfectly as he does most of the roles he is cast in. His wit, sincerity, and even his facial expressions make the character of Johnny really come to life. The torment and anguish of having to give up everything, including the love of his life to save another loved one, shines through in how Cage brings it all together. And although I’ve never been much of a fan, Eva Mendes does an excellent job as Roxanne even if she does get a little too bitchy at times.

The main problem with the film is that Ghost Rider has always been one of the characters that was a lot darker. His entire world, including his enemies, was always seen in a much darker image. They all kind of had to be considering he was dealing with the devil himself. And while the film is quite brooding and dark, it seems as if they tried to throw in too much humor to lighten the mood. Blackheart at times is quite laughable, and even when Johnny turns into Ghost Rider, he randomly does little quirky things to get a giggle or two out of the audience. It’s not a huge downfall, but really does take away from the overall feeling.

The Video

The film is seen in 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and it looks phenomenal. The colors are bright as can be and the blacks look black and not the least bit gray. I guess I never noticed it when viewing the film in theaters, but the backgrounds give a great comic book feel to just about every scene. Some of the skylines are positively gorgeous and the transition to DVD came across almost picture perfect.

The Audio

The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and it comes through perfectly. Any and all dialogue can be heard flawlessly without having to turn up the volume and then having to turn it down while the music is playing. The surround sound really comes through great with some engines roaring in the back speakers while the fire crackles in the front. Perhaps one of the best sounding DVDs I’ve heard in a very long time.

Special Features

Never-Before-Seen Footage – This edition of Ghost Rider claims to be unrated and uncut and while that doesn’t make the film much different, some holes are filled in by the extra footage. What the extra footage provides is a bit more backstory of some of the characters giving them more of a history than in the cut originally seen in theaters. While the footage wasn’t entirely necessary to change the overall plot of the film; it did enhance the story a good bit.

Audio Commentary 1 – The first commentary is with writer/director Mark Steven Johnson and visual effects supervisor Kevin Mack. This is an extremely in-depth commentary that gives not only Johnson’s mindset on how he wanted things to go, but then Mack chimes in with how he took the director’s vision and made it a reality. Johnson then describes how the script was finished, how casting was done, and how fun it was working on the film. Mack again comes in with the more intricate details describing the sets, the stunts, and the effects of how Nicolas Cage became the Ghost Rider all together. Very informative and worth checking out the film a second time right away for.

Audio Commentary 2 – The second commentary is from producer Gary Foster. Look, I’m a firm believer in two things when it comes to this feature. First, there should never really be more then one commentary on a DVD because it just begins to be too much. And secondly, a commentary track should never be done by one person. While Foster does give some interesting insight into the film and even goes further then what was learned in the first commentary by giving new information; it just gets really dull listening to one person talk and not have anyone to interact with.

Spirit Of Vengeance: The Making Of Ghost Rider – This is far from your basic “making of” featurette as it is broken down into three separate parts entitled “Spirit Of Vengeance,” “Spirit Of Adventure,” and the “Spirit Of Execution.” Every part has interviews with members of the cast and crew, from the big names like Nicolas Cage and Avi Arad all the way down to the virtually unknown effects people. “Vengeance” talks mostly about how the film came to exist at all and how everyone came together to work on it. A lot of behind the scenes footage is shown in this segment especially from the cemetery scenes with Sam Elliott and Nic Cage.

“Adventure” goes into the stunt work that went on during the film with the motorcycle and horse riding and fight scenes. Of course most of the jumps and such had to be done with CGI, but there was still a lot of danger involved with just the calmer visuals where a real rider and bike were needed.

“Execution” is perhaps the coolest featurette of them all as it goes into post-production where the score is added, visual effects are made sure they look realistic enough, and sound effects are put in. Watching a Foley Artist at work is always enjoyable. And seeing the visual effects leader and director make small changes to how a dead eye is supposed to look or the flames up a building should look, well it’s just interesting to get on the work they do to complete their film. This entire feature clocks in close to ninety minutes and is a fantastic look at everything that went on with creating Ghost Rider.

Sin & Salvation: 40 Years Of Ghost Rider Comic Book History – A very deep look at the origin of the comic book, the character, and his modernizations over the past three-and-a-half decades. Full of interviews with different writers and artists that worked on the Ghost Rider comic book from the seventies, eighties, nineties, and since the millennium. Lots of information is given here regarding the Rider’s creation all the way up to his inception to film. There is also a lot of different comic cover art shown that really makes this feature so fun to watch.

Animatics – A collection of computerized storyboards animated to show many different scenes from the film as how they would be done before they were filmed. Very short at less than five minutes, but still gives an interesting look at what they were going for and then compare it to the final product.

TrailersSpider-Man 3, The Messengers, Seinfeld: Season 8, Premonition, Blood And Chocolate, Hellboy, Across The Universe, and Ray Harryhausen in Color

The Inside Pulse

It’s a shame that more time wasn’t put into the storyline and film itself as was seemingly put into how it looks. This two-disc release boasts close to three hours worth of special features; and if you check out both commentaries, that’s another four hours easy. Though despite an average popcorn movie, does not mean this DVD is worth simply a rental, because it is definitely one anybody would be pleased with picking up. Ghost Rider falls into the midsection of comic films while not being as bad as Hulk and Daredevil but just not hitting the status of Spider-Man or X-Men. But with a second disc jam-packed with features, you just can’t go wrong here. Hell, even non-fans of the comic can enjoy this film and learn a little something too because the special features take you back more then just to the making of the film, but back into the origin of the comic book.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for
Ghost Rider: 2-Disc Extended Cut
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

7.5
THE VIDEO

9
THE AUDIO

10
THE EXTRAS

9
REPLAY VALUE

7
OVERALL
8.5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)