Ghost Rider is the perfect example of a genre that’s slowly running out of steam. Mark Steven Johnson’s take on this Marvel legend is a dull, boring, and over-developed movie that doesn’t want to end. The minor humorous quips are not worth sitting through this intentionally campy disaster.
Nicolas Cage hams it up as Johnny Blaze, motorcycle stunt performer turned flaming, uh, skull thing. He’s obviously having fun with the role even when the audience isn’t. His deal with the devil forces him to fight the inevitable group of enemies looking to take over the world. The villains are uninteresting, and two of them go down without much of a fight.
The campy, carefree tone isn’t established early on. Instead, the movie plays straight as we are given the legend of Ghost Rider and the usual comic book babble about how he came to be. The extensive scenes before we finally arrive at Cage in full Ghost Rider garb take up almost 50 minutes of this mess, and the character development feels repetitive (he loves the girl, move on).
CG special effects are weak at best, especially the trademark skull. The flames look fine, but the skull beneath them is flat. There are some nifty visuals to be had as Ghost Rider jumps up skyscrapers on his motorcycle, though there’s a sense of carelessness to it all. The chain he carries with him seems to pop out of thin air as he always seems to have it when needed, and not when he doesn’t.
There’s nothing new or interesting brought to the genre by giving this Marvel icon a movie. Hammy acting and special effects can be largely enjoyable in the proper context, yet Ghost Rider jumps into different styles when it needs to. It’s frustrating, inconsistent, and most importantly, simply not fun. Video
While its black levels tend to waver, this is a beautiful transfer. Colors offer incredible depth and boldness. Pristine detail is always present, and the sharpness remains steady throughout. Fluctuating grain levels can be distracting, though a minor problem which only pops up a few times during the film.
Bass is the highlight of this TrueHD mix. Engine sounds and flames bring deep, room-shaking bass along with them. Ghost Rider’s first appearance as he tears through town is undeniably a highlight. The surrounds are put to plenty of work. Thunder tears through the sound field (and there’s a lot of thunder), and the subtlety comes through as well with dogs barking when in the city.
Two commentaries lead the extras. A solo effort with producer Gary Foster is up first, followed by director Johnson and the visual effects supervisor Kevin Mack. Three documentaries follow, though they make up one long piece. Vengeance, Adventure, and Execution are their names, though they have little focus. While the last one delves into visual effects, it drops back into a different aspect of production. They’re well done, but they jump around far too often. Some trailers mark the finish of the disc. Extras