Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Blu-ray Review: Food for the Mills of Hell

Well, boys and girls, that clown Nicolas Cage has done it again: absconded with a heap of dough, and leaving behind a pile of something quite smelly in his wake. This time, though, he’s gone overboard — delivering what has to be his worst intentionally-hammy performance ever (which — and let’s be honest, here — is saying an awful lot) as he reprises the role of Johnny Blaze, the tortured feller who made a deal with the Devil and is now doomed to suck the souls out of evildoers. Interestingly, Cage himself is said to have formed a pact with Lucifer in order to have his surprisingly-still-active career in the first place; a résumé of rubbish that not only tends to suck the souls out of everyone (not just evildoers), but just plain suck in general.

And Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is by no means an exception. In fact, it’s a serious contender for Worst Film of 2012. Filmed mostly in Romania — that magical land where many a former A-List star’s career goes to die — this unwanted, unwatchable sequel to the much-lampooned 2007 Marvel adaptation finds Johnny Blaze (Cage) striking a deal with a monk (Idris Elba) to save a young boy named Danny (Fergus Riordan) from the clutches of evil. Literally: it turns out Danny is actually the son of the Devil himself (a very hammy Ciarán Hinds — who I’m convinced is the older, uglier version of Clive Owen), who has sent out a number of emissaries to capture the boy for a ritual that will surely damn all of mankind.

Of course, as I have stated before, it’s only the audience that winds up being damned here. From the very get-go, the movie has you shaking your head in disbelief or feeling like smashing it up against a very solid substance (or both). Cage instantly kills any credibility the movie might have had (which is none) with his dull, droll delivery — but the incense is further heightened by a god-awful script (from Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman, and David S. Goyer, the latter of whom also brought us The Dark Knight amazingly enough), inept childish direction (courtesy of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who also made Crank), and a complete lack of endowment in general.

Co-starring in this atrocity are Violante Placido as the mother of the potential antichrist and Johnny Whitworth as one of Hinds’ henchmen — who starts out as human but turns into Blackout (a character who decomposes everything he touches) but who looks like the lost Nelson brother instead. Christopher Lambert (who sounds more like Peter Lorre than ever) has a small part as a heavily-tattooed monk who winds up turning into ash, and Anthony Head also turns in an even tinier role (also as a monk). The CGI of the Rider is a lot better-looking here than it was in the previous film, though the scenes of Cage transforming (which we only see part of) are dreadful. Likewise, a two-and-a-half-minute segment (starting at 32:30) beginning with Cage hamming it up to the hilt with bit player Cristian Iacob and ending with Nic riding down the street whilst turning into the Rider is one of the most painfully funny things ever committed to film, and would make a great submission clip for the Razzies.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings us this turkey on Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D in a pretty smooth-lookin’ transfer that is much nicer than anything even remotely resembling Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance deserves. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack does a fine job of bringing out all the booms and bangs, but it really isn’t a winner all-around. Special features for the 2D BD include several deleted scenes, a six-part 89-minute documentary entitled “The Path to Vengeance,” an expanded video commentary with the film’s self-indulgent directors, and a handful of previews. The 3D disc also includes a “Riding into Another Dimension” featurette (in 3D), though I really can’t imagine anyone (other than the world’s biggest troll of a Ghost Rider fanboy) making through anything other than the trailers.

Do the world a favor and drop every copy you see into a biohazard disposal bin.

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Luigi Bastardo

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