PictureGhost Rider comes in it's original 2.40:1 ratio, 1080p MPEG-4/AVC encoded and although the movie itself, in my opinion, might not be up to much the visuals are a different kettle of demons.
The print is glorious, free from blemishes, scratches, dirt, grain and general wear. Understandable of course for a film not yet a year old. The transfer process itself has introduced no noise whatsoever, no artefacts. Colours are always rich, delimitated within their own borders with no bleed. Edge enhancement obviously banished to the bottomless pit here as it's nowhere to be seen.
Contrast is more than adequate with scenes containing bright whites and dark corners, all still wonderfully detailed with no crush at the upper end of the spectrum but some detail lost in the murky shadows. The CGI fits in seamlessly and this in itself offers glorious detail. The fine skeletal work on the knuckles and joints of the Ghost Rider, the flames flowing around his neck and body migrating onto his bike when completing the transition to bounty hunter are all eye popping.
Crowd scenes from the carnival or the later stunt work of Johnny Blaze are again rich in colour and depth. Each and every attendee at the stadium where Johnny jumps over a football field can easily picked out, as are the people meandering between the shows at the earlier carnival.
SoundWhereas the US release of this title included a PCM and a True HD track all we have on offer here is the same PCM and the lesser standard Dolby Digital 5.1. The main part of this review discusses the PCM track.
For a fantasy flick this pushes all the right buttons. The action is thunderous, sub kicking in as often as needed, steerage from vehicles, Ghost Rider's bike, and chains all originating from where you would expect and completely in tune with the visuals on screen at the time. This in itself creates a truly immersive experience, centering the viewer in the middle whilst the action evolves all around you.
Dialogue predominantly emanates from the centre and is clear and detailed but this is also steered left and right and to the surrounds as needed. You might find yourself straining to hear some of the lines produced by Sam Elliot but that's always in his gruff tones and not an issue with the audio as a whole. A comparison between this and the standard Dolby track highlights the deeper low end of the PCM along with finer detail in some of the high tones throughout. The rattle of Ghost Rider's chain more structred with the PCM, background crowd scenes also more defined.
- Commentary with Mark Johnson and Kevin Mack
Certainly a lover of his own work this commentary often feels like a defence witness being cross-examined, often he tries to justify the choices he had made throughout this film. Obviously the critics had already had their say now this was his response. Mack's input was understandably confined to the effects/CGI which went into creating Ghost Rider.
- Commentary with Gary Foster
The producer gets his end in here but really for everyone's sanity this should really have been left off the disc. It's overblown, long winded and far too repetative to hold anyone's interest for too long. I have to hold my hands up here and admit... it did get the better of me. After a repetition too far I just had to hit that stop button.
- Documentaries - Spirit of Vengeance 29mins, Spirit of Adventure 30mins and Spirit of Execution 23mins
Coming in just under an hour and a half you would have hoped that this would have been an insightful, detailed piece on how Ghost Rider was taken from the page and presented to us on screen. Casting is discussed, flaming CGI effects, characterisation and scene construction as well as on set footage shot during filming. Some of the information contained here such as effects or characterisation is ok enough to watch but the rest falls onto stony ground.
Two trailers are included, one for Spider-Man 3 the other for Surfs Up!
Much like the film itself the extras never really did anything for me. The producer's documentary is really not worth the disc space and the commentary with Johnson feels just a little too self justifying for my tastes. More could have been done with the documentaries, but even these whilst presenting useful snippets of information leave you wanting more, or at least something with a little more structure.
VerdictI usually enjoy a good comic book romp and eagerly sat down to take this in. Not knowing the original work itself should never detract from what's on screen and by all means Ghost Rider shows this to be the case. It's just a pity then that as a film it's neither engaging nor that exciting. The demons who our hero have to hunt down don't get as much screen time as I would have hoped, if they had perhaps in the end a darker film might have resulted. Even so when they are on screen they don't nearly look or act menacing enough to be the offspring of the Devil himself. (Well I suppose some fathers do have that disappointment!)
In terms of the love interest between Johnny and his long lost Roxanne, who cares... certainly not the director or he would have made so much more of this section of the movie. Here it's brushed off without a second glance, with no real depth of feeling on show from either character.
We've got Johnny's history out of the way now and a future story where Johnny although in the constant employ of the Devil but actually fighting for good could be an interesting enough storyline. I think though it'll be a long time coming and I don't think that Johnson will be there to steer it. A superb picture and audio can't really elevate a disappointing plot and wafer thin characterisation. Rental at best.
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- Commentary with Mark Johnson and Kevin Mack