Ghost Rider appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. No substantial problems appeared here..
Sharpness looked well-defined most of the time. A few soft shots popped up in wider elements, but those remained minor. Instead, the movie usually seemed accurate and concise. I saw no shimmering or jagged edges, and both edge haloes and source flaws appeared to be absent.
In terms of colors, teal and orange tended to dominate. Within those parameters, these were tight and full. Blacks seemed reasonably deep and dense, but shadows tended to be a little too thick. The film offered many low-light shots, and some of these came across as just a bit too opaque. The transfer was good enough for a “B“ and bordered on “B+” territory.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio of Ghost Rider proved to be consistently satisfying. I figured that a comic book flick like this would come with aggressive audio, and I was correct. The soundfield provided an auditory assault from start to finish. Thunder roared from all speakers, while vehicles zipped around the spectrum. Battles raged across the realm, and all these elements combined to create an involving, forceful soundscape.
Audio quality was very good. Speech sounded natural and concise, with no edginess or other problems. Bass response was always deep and firm, and those elements made the effects powerful. Music also showed nice dimensionality and range. This was a top-notch auditory experience.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Audio seemed bolder and fuller, while visuals were tighter and more vivid. This turned into a good upgrade.
Some of the DVD’s extras repeat here, and we find two audio commentaries. The first comes from writer/director Mark Steven Johnson and visual effects supervisor Kevin Mack, both of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. With Mack present, we find the expected notes about visual effects, but Johnson dominates and covers many other subjects. He gets into story and editorial choices, changes for the extended cut, cast, performances and Nicolas Cage’s take on his character, sets and shooting in Australia, stunts and action, visual decisions, and other specifics from the production.
Overall, the commentary provides a pretty good overview of the flick. It touches on a good array of subjects and remains reasonably involving and informative. In an unusual twist, Johnson discusses the movie’s negative reviews and provides a semi-angry rebuttal. (He thinks critics didn’t like it because they only want to see dark, depressing art films. No, critics didn’t like it because it wasn’t very good.) Though this never turns into a stellar chat, it touches on enough useful material to deserve a listen. I must admit I couldn’t figure out why Johnson sometimes pronounced “Johnny” as “Joanie”, though.
The second commentary features a running, screen-specific piece from producer Gary Foster. He covers the same array of topics addressed in the first track. However, Foster provides a different perspective and talks about these subjects from the producer’s point of view. Although some repetition occurs, Foster’s alternate side of things allows his chat to become valuable. It’s not a great commentary, but it remains stimulating and worthwhile.
Next we find a three-part documentary called The Making of Ghost Rider. This one-hour, 21-minute and 54-second piece mixes behind the scenes materials and interviews. We hear from Johnson, Foster, Mack, producers Avi Arad, Ari Arad and Michael De Luca, production designer Kirk Petrocelli, vehicle supervisor Darren Loveday, motorcycle technician Mark McKinlay, makeup designer Lesley Vanderwalt, cinematographer Russell Boyd, stunt coordinator Glenn Boswell, second unit director Kimble Rendall, stunt performer Shea Adams, costume designer Lizzy Gardiner, special effects makeup creative supervisor Dave Elsey, special effects technician Sonny Tilders, stunt double Eddie Yansick, executive producer E. Bennett Walsh, PIC Agency creative directors Jarik Van Sluijs and Julio Ferrario, designer/animator Gary Hebert, 3D animators Hai Ho and Robin Boepjtorff, and actors Sam Elliot, Nicolas Cage, Laurence Breuls, Mathew Wilkinson, Daniel Frederiksen, Peter Fonda, Eva Mendes, Wes Bentley, Raquel Alessi, and Matt Long.
The program opens with info about bringing Ghost Rider to the big screen, the script and story, cast and Nicolas Cage’s interest in the project, the flick’s tone and its motorcycles. From there it digs into sets, characters, costumes and makeup, music, shooting in Australia, cinematography, and stunts. In addition, “Spirit” looks at visual effects, editing, score, and other aspects of post-production.
Though this won’t seem apparent from the notes I listed above, “Spirit” essentially follows the production in chronological order. It detours for related issues but stays connected to the shooting schedule. For instance, a scene that highlights Roxanne offers our introduction to Mendes.
Part Three of the program mostly drops the interviews to completely follow the “fly on the wall” approach. We watch the various post-production stages without any commentary and just see them as they happen. Though this means we lose many overall thoughts on those issues, we get a nice sense of immediacy. I really like these segments.
Its structure makes “Spirit” a little disjointed at times, but not to a significant degree. Instead, the program manages to meld the footage from the set with interviews to become quite informative. It fleshes out many aspects of the production and turns into an amiable and useful piece.
Under Previews we get clips for The Messengers, Premonition, Blood and Chocolate, Hellboy.
While Ghost Rider boasts a good cast and some solid visual effects, it skimps on story and character elements. Those flaws leave it as something decidedly ordinary and forgettable. The Blu-ray brings us good picture, audio and supplements. This isn’t a great movie, but the Blu-ray presents it well.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of GHOST RIDER