2007's "Ghost Rider" wasn't a complete failure of a film, but like Mark Steven Johnson's earlier theatrical cut of "Daredevil" was decidedly mediocre. It was plagued by a lower-key performance from Nicolas Cage (low-key by Cage standards) and a non-compelling lead villain, but still it made enough money to warrant a sequel. On paper, "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" should be a guaranteed gonzo, crowd pleaser: Cage returns, this time directed by the purveyors of unhinged action themselves Neveldine/Taylor of "Crank" and "Crank: High Voltage" fame. Through in Idris Elba hamming it up with a cartoon like French accent and distinguished thespian Ciaran Hinds filling the role of Satan and it should be outright impossible for this outing of Marvel's famed skeletal rider to disappoint. Yet, "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" disappoints with a vengeance and then some.
Right away, as the film limps off the starting line with a poorly staged opening action scene sans Cage, the visual aspect of "Spirit of Vengeance" raises an eyebrow. Neither "Crank" or "Crank: High Voltage" were visual masterpieces, but they were at least colorful and busy; here Neveldine/Taylor struggle to hide the lower budget ($57 million, almost half of the original's massive $110 million bankroll) and on-location settings of Romania and Turkey. To be blunt, the movie begins looking like a decades old straight-to-video C-rate action offering and never once manages to even meet that expectation. After 10 minutes that feels like 30, Cage shows up as Johnny Blaze and is soon pulled into a middling thriller revolving around a young boy who the Devil has his eye on. Naturally, Blaze's unique "powers" will prove useful in keeping the boy safe.
"Spirit of Vengeance" lazily drags from one lackluster action sequence to another, with only one, midway through the film involving Ghost Rider using his supernatural powers on a giant excavator prove crowd pleasing. The narrative is anemic beyond believe and all parties involved struggle to even look half interested in reciting the forgettable dialogue; despite all Elba's over-the-top delivery, he comes off looking inept, while Cage is just plain tired. The film's villain/henchman (if you consider Hinds' Devil to be the true antagonist), Blackout, is among the worst I've seen in a superhero movie, when he finally gets his comic book powers, I was longing for the days of Mark Pillow's Nuclear Man.
"Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" is an utter disappointment, providing viewers nothing resembling even a neutered "Crank" movie not to mention Nic Cage only occasionally delivering a bad Nic Cage impression instead of, well, being Nic Cage. In hindsight, this disjointed, aimless mess of a movie, makes its predecessor look infinitely better if only for it actually having a fully formed story to tell. "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" is a miserable waste of time for fans and non-fans of the character alike and will likely show up in the future on numerous "worst of" lists for comic book films.
The 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is more than passable, despite the film's tacky production design. Colors are appropriately natural, while contrast levels are surprisingly solid and detail is markedly above average. There's a light amount of grain but minimal edge-enhancement and little issues with compression artifacts.
The Dolby Digital English 5.1 audio track is perfectly serviceable, sporting no glaring shortcomings, but at the same time, doing nothing truly spectacular. Dialogue is well mixed alongside solid effects, with surrounds used to noticeable effect in some of the more prominent action scenes. The low-end of the track is adequate and never overpowering, even when it has to dominate the soundscape. An English descriptive audio track is included as well as a French 5.1 track. English, English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles are included.
The only extras are a small collection of deleted scenes.
While the DVD is technically sound, "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" is a dismal, poorly paced, abysmally written, and lazily acted pile of garbage. It commits the great comic book sins of being boring and disrespectful to its characters and the action movie sin of forgettable quantity over memorable quality. Skip It.