One of the chores of parenthood can be taking the little monsters to that movie they've "just got to see". On the one hand, this can sentence you to endless iterations of what ever this month's Pokemon-manque might be; on the other hand, it can also cue you in to how well you may be bringing up said monster. When the movie in question concerned the Devil's Bounty Hunter, a dude with a flaming skull for a head and a motorcycle equal parts Gigeresque chrome and hellfire... well, I was a proud daddy.
This is, of course, the latest comic book character to escape the Marvel bullpen and get translated to the silver screen. An amalgamation of the two different incarnations of the four-color character, Ghost Rider is the tale of Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage), a carnival motorcycle daredevil who sells his soul to the literal devil (Peter Fonda) to prevent his father's death by cancer. Years later, just as Johnny hits the peak of his Evel Knievel-style fame, and he finds his long-lost love (Eva Mendez), the infernal debt comes due, and Blaze's demonic side must take a proactive approach to squashing a power play by the devil's son, Blackheart (Wes Bentley) and a crew of fallen angels.
I'd not held out much hope for this movie; it was written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson, who performed similar chores on the Ben Affleck Daredevil, which I found lacking (Okay, I actively despised it). Ghost Rider, however proved much more entertaining, with a stronger, leaner through-point to the story and, almost inarguably, a better star. This extended cut restores several scenes cut from the theatrical release; several of the character scenes are quite nice, while others merely add to the running time, not the quality of the final film.
Trying to keep track of variant releases to different chain stores is a pain; what I appear to have is the Target version, which places the two discs in a keepcase inside a slipcover inside another slipcover. This is to include a 22-page booklet of "Ghost Rider Production Notes" which rehashes the production featurettes but has much fuller bios for most of the creative personnel. It really makes you work for your movie, especially since that keepcase is just as shrinkwrapped as the outer slipcover.
Disc One has the feature film and a plethora of audio tracks: English in 5.1 and DTS, French in 5.1 and two commentary tracks, one by Johnson and visual effects supervisor Kevin Mack, the other by producer Gary Foster. Both are halfway worthwhile - one wishes for a way to combine both, the gosh-gee-whiz of the Johnson/Mack track with the somewhat spotty hard info of the Foster track. That might have left room for a track devoted to the typically superb Christopher Young score (while I'm dreaming).
Such a crowded sonic palette, though, moves the other extras to a second disc. Spirit of Vengeance: The Making of Ghost Rider is split into three segments: Spirit of Vengence, Spirit of Adventure, and Spirit of Execution. Each clocks in at almost a half-hour, and covers a different aspect of movie making - pre, production, and post. There is no Play All.
Sin and Salvation: Comic Book Origins of the Ghost Rider is split into four segments, one for each decade from the 70s through the 00s. These are well done, featuring interviews with creative personnel like Roy Thomas and Mike Ploog, and kinetic photography of comic art. Again, though, no Play All, and getting dumped repeatedly to the menu is annoying.
There is also a short of computer animatics pre-visualizing some of the more dramatic moments in the movies, set to Young's score.
Dr. Freex, 6/20/2007