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zcbm| Ghost Rider 1
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Raquel Alessi, Brett Cullen, Peter Fonda, Matt Long (II)
Genre: Action & Adventure

Running Time: 114
Aspect Ratio:  2.40:1 (NTSC Widescreen)
Sound: AC-3
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Studio:  Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) DVD Region:  99 Unrated
DVD Release:  Jun 2007 Discs:  2 (Blu-ray) [$34.95]
Reviews:  Once intended as a feature for Johnny Depp, the long-germinating feature film adaptation of Marvel Comics' cult title "Ghost Rider" stars Nicolas Cage as motorcyclist Johnny Blaze, who transforms into a skull-faced angel of vengeance to battle the forces of evil. Though perhaps a bit too mature for the role, Cage brings a degree of humor to the outrageous proceedings; he's well matched by the Easy Rider himself Peter Fonda, amusingly cast as Mephistopheles, the demon with whom Blaze strikes a bargain to save his father, and in turn, causes his transformation into Ghost Rider. Wes Bentley is also fine as Blackheart, the rebellious offspring of Mephistopheles, and Blazes' chief opponent in the film. They're joined by a solid supporting cast which includes Donal Logue, Eva Mendes, and Sam Elliott, but their participation and a relentless barrage of CGI effects can't hide the fact that the story itself, though largely faithful to its comic origins, is rife with clichéd characterizations and glum B-movie dialogue. Fans of the venerable title may cry foul over this adaptation (as they did over helmer Mark Steven Johnson's previous comic-to-movie feature, "Daredevil"), but less stringent viewers may enjoy the fiery visuals and Cage's typically quirky performance.

On the DVD
Though largely reviled by critics, "Ghost Rider" performed well enough during its theatrical run to warrant this deluxe edition DVD, which adds nine more minutes to the feature and includes a wealth of extras that cover its production, as well as the Marvel Comics character's history. The deleted footage is a mix of throwaway detail (reporter/love interest Eva Mendes' investigation into the Ghost Rider's identity gets more screen time) and interesting character wrinkles (the reason behind Johnny Blaze's deal with Mephistopheles has a less-than-honorable side) that help in part to give the film some dramatic heft. But these will have less cache with viewers and fans of the film than the supplemental features, which cover the making of the film in broad but interesting detail. Two commentaries are provided, one from director Mark Steven Johnson and visual effects supervision Kevin Mack, and the other by producer Gary Foster; both are informative, but those with a taste for the technical side of moviemaking will find the former more valuable, as both men cover the production intricacies at length. The making-of featurette "Spirit of Vengeance" is actually three 30-minute documentaries which include interviews with the cast, production tidbits, and a eyebrow-raising bit of Nicolas Cage working through his own process of "becoming" the Ghost Rider (those that consider Cage an amusing eccentric will find these clips most enjoyable). A gallery of animatics show how certain scenes evolved from production sketch to finished special effect, but the most intriguing extra is "Sin and Salvation," a four-part documentary that traces Ghost Rider's comic book incarnation from his origin in the 1970s to the revivals and revisions of the '90s and 2000s. For longtime "GR" fans, this may be the most valuable extra, as it gives an excellent overview of the character, and serves as a reminder of what made him such a cult hit to those who may have been disappointed by this big-screen version. " -- Paul Gaita"

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