There comes a point in most movie franchises when the filmmakers stop caring. Then there are the select few film franchises whose filmmakers never seemed to have cared in the first place. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is much like its predecessor, a film that doesn’t care how loud, stupid and ridiculous it is.
In Eastern Europe, Moreau (Idris Elba) arrives at a monastery to warn Benedict (Anthony Head) that the young boy in their possession is in great danger. Giles Benedict assures Moreau of the boy’s safety while the devil’s gunmen creep up the side of the building. In an instant, the monastery is swarming with armed men who quickly kill the defenseless monks and corner the boy and his mother.
Miraculously, the boy and his mother escape, but the men are in close pursuit. Moreau hops on his motorcycle and manages to shoot the men off the road, but not before taking a nasty dive over the guardrail himself. Mom and the boy are free, for now.
Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is hiding out in an abandoned warehouse, still reeling from his ill-advised deal with the devil. In the presence of evil, Johnny turns into the Ghost Rider, a flaming-skull demon who will stop at nothing to steal the souls of the damned.
Moreau greets Johnny, somehow knowing of his infernal deal, and suggests a counter offer. Should Johnny use the Rider to find the boy and deposit him safely at Moreau’s sanctuary, the monks residing there will use their powers to lift Johnny’s curse and make him human again. With nothing to lose, Johnny accepts the stranger’s offer.
As night falls, mother Nadya (Violante Placido) and her son Danny (Fergus Riordan) have run out of luck. The gunmen have caught up to them and, by order of the devil, are taking the boy with them. Nadya fights hard, but is hopelessly outnumbered.
With Danny bound in their van, the gunmen are ready to depart when the Rider rudely interrupts. With sadistic slowness, the demon takes his time killing the devil’s men one by one. As a last defense, one of the men, Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth), fires a grenade into the Rider’s chest, stopping the demon long enough to escape with the boy.
Johnny wakes up in the hospital, nursing his injuries from the night before. He manages to meet up with Nadya, who confides in him that Danny is the devil’s son. They band together to try to find Danny before the devil can use him in his sinister plot.
At the quarry, Carrigan is hiding out with his captive and a giant bunker of weapons. He is determined to kill the Rider, at any cost, and deliver the boy safely to his father.
The entire film feels smashed together. The plot seems to be constructed around how much stuff the special effects department can set on fire. Nothing unfolds naturally, with miles of exposition clumsily stuffed between elaborate CGI spectacles. Oddly enough, the cast seems quite dedicated, at times becoming embarrassingly serious despite having to act in such a silly film. The resulting effort seems disjointed, with parts of the film striving (and failing) for a more sober tone while sandwiched between scenery-chewing camp.
Visually, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is consistently impressive, with CGI taking an obvious precedence over script. The Rider infuses everything he touches with hellfire, making an ordinary car into a sulfurous beast. No expense is spared in turning every action scene into a fiery thrill, taking gleeful delight in complete destruction.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
is now available on DVD (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, MSRP: $30.99), Blu-ray (MSRP: $35.99) and Blu-ray 3-D (MSRP: $45.99), all of which include an UltraViolet digital copy of the film for viewers on the go. The DVD release features just one extra—deleted scenes—while the Blu-ray editions add a director’s expanded video commentary and a six-part documentary series, “The Path to Vengeance: Making Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,” to the package.
The deleted scenes are best forgotten and were obviously deleted for a reason. The director’s video commentary, however, goes behind the scenes with an extraordinarily in-depth look at what went into making the film. The commentary is almost more fun than the film itself, breaking down the best of the movie and entertaining through the worst. Along with the documentary series “The Path to Vengeance,” the Blu-ray’s special features are extremely thorough and are sure to please any Ghost Rider fan. “The Path to Vengeance” spans six different parts, and includes conception, script writing, preparation for shooting, locations, makeup, special effects, post-production, screenings and releasing the trailer. Everything is covered and, surprisingly, manages to remain interesting, regardless of how enjoyable the film was (or wasn’t).
Exclusive to the 3-D Blu-ray release is the 3-D featurette “Riding into Another Dimension,” which details the creative hurdles and advantages of moving Ghost Rider into the world of 3-D. Truthfully, the use of 3-D works best on a select few action scenes in the movie, but not much else. 3-D is different for everyone—while some will find the movie much more enjoyable in the third dimension, others won’t care either way. The 3-D Blu-ray release also comes with a 2-D copy of the movie on Blu-ray, so viewers won’t always have to wear 3-D glasses to enjoy the film.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
is not a good movie, but there are lots of explosions. To expect anything more than campy action is asking for disappointment.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.