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With a smaller budget than its predecessor and a scant ninety-five minute running time is it any wonder why GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE ($36) doesn't waste too much time on niceties- like plot or character development, instead offering a streamlined pure popcorn story that is about as thin as a comic book, but is just enough to moves things from special effect to action sequence and back again. Nicolas Cage returns as motorcycle riding anti-hero Johnny Blaze, who acquired supernatural powers as the result of a bad deal with the devil to save the life of his dying father. Sure, the devil cured Johnny's father of cancer, only to kill him in some other grizzly fashion. For his trouble, Johnny not only lost his soul, but also is now the host for a blazing skeletal entity known as The Rider, a supernatural being that that punishes and feeds on sinners- no matter how small their sin.

Keeping The Rider under control and under wraps has resulted in Johnny distancing himself from humanity. As GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE opens we discover that Johnny has gone into hiding in Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, the Devil incarnate aka Roarke (Ciarán Hinds) is also on the prowl in Eastern Europe; hunting for a young boy named Danny (Fergus Riordan) and his mother Nadya (Violante Placido). It seems that the Devil is burning through his latest incarnation, and plans to use Danny as his next vessel. Dispatching Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth) and a team of mercenaries to find Danny and Nadya, Roarke isn't expecting interference from a drunken priest a drunken priest named Moreau (Idris Elba), who manages to track down Johnny Blaze and The Rider. As you might expect, Johnny has no problem bedeviling Roarke's plans, especially with a promise from Moreau that his priestly order can lift the curse of The Rider. The cast of GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE also features Christopher Lambert and Anthony Head.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Shot digitally with Red One cameras, GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE burns up the screen with an impressive 1080p presentation the leaves little room for complaint. Almost all of the time, the image appears wonderfully sharp, with excellent definition and dimensionality. Texturing is excellent, especially in close-ups with fine details, such as individual hairs and imperfections in the actor’s skin are also appearing fully realized. Colors are nicely saturated, but never over-baked; generally appearing natural but always influenced by the lighting design of any individual sequence. Additionally, flesh tones come across in an attractive manner. Blacks are pure, as are the whites, plus the contrast is very smooth. Shadow detail is pretty terrific. The elements from which GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE has been mastered demonstrate virtually no imperfections. Being an all-digital production, there is no actual film grain, but there is a very tiny bit of noise that shows up in a few places.

GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This is a high quality soundtrack that delivers just what one would expect from this type of supernatural comic book, turned action movie material- it’s enveloping, highly directional and fairly powerful. GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE has an aggressively mixed sound design for the action packed moments, but is more sedate, when it needs to be. All the outlying channels are well utilized for sound effects placement, which whip around the soundstage in an amped-up manner. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is excellent, producing wholly believable sound effects, in addition to a rich sounding musical component. The bass channel track adds percussive force and weight to effects. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. French and Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks are also encoded onto the disc, as is an English Descriptive track. A Catalan Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track is also present. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off is a Director's Expanded Video Commentary featuring directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, this particular feature is a hoot and a half and is one of the more enjoyable supplements that I have seen in a while (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Also included is The Path To Vengeance: Making Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance a six-part documentary that looks at various aspects of the production and runs just short of ninety minutes in total. Some Deleted Scenes and Bonus Trailers close out the standard supplements. An authorization code is provided for an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film, which is just a stream away.

With a story and characters that are as thin as a comic book, GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE is a by the numbers, popcorn level, PG-13, action sequel. The Blu-ray presentation looks marvelous and sounds great.


Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] (2012)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2012 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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