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Ghost Rider (2007)

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Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Screenwriter/director Mark Steven Johnson and visual effects supervisor Kevin Mack Rating: no votes yetLogin to vote or review
Reviewed by iwantmytvm on August 22nd, 2020:Find all reviews by iwantmytvm
Johnson and Mack deliver a worthwhile track that provides a fair balance between technical and anecdotal information. Johnson wanted Mack along for this commentary due to the importance of making special effects of Ghost Rider character look good. The success of the film was riding on this. Mack notes how they created technical tools and methods to better render and manipulate the CGI fire. They are pleased with the result, but they had to mindful of the expense for each shot on a modestly budgeted film. Throughout, they point out what was CGI vs the elements they created practically, or when it was a layered mix. The sound design on the voices included animal noises and other elements to distort the voices of the actors.

Johnson talks about his difficulty in adapting the script until he envisioned a gothic western. Also he was able to cull from various generations of the comic. He wanted to create something that was not as dark as Daredevil, his previous film. He speaks to the critical reception, which was unfavorable, but he remains satisfied that audiences liked the film. Fanboys were vocal in their backlash towards Rebel Wilson and the humorous tone of her appearance in the film. Much of what was cut for the theatrical release and brought back for the extended cut was for pacing or because it did not serve the main story. Some early trims were scenes that made young Johnny seem too selfish.

Cage had long been attached to the film, and had been through various iterations and directors that never came to fruition. He has a Ghost Rider tattoo on his shoulder. Cage brought his own quirky ideas to differentiate the vices of the character from typical flawed heroes, wanting to show that the character would exchange in behavior that would make him feel safe. The actor playing the young Johnny Blaze wore a prosthetic nose to make him look more like Cage. Johnson sought to cast Peter Fonda and Sam Elliott because they were icons of cinema Westerns.

With the release of Spider-man 3 and the prominence of the Sandman character, Johnson was asked to rework the Earth demon in this film and kill it off much earlier to avoid comparisons.

They filmed in Australia, making it look like Texas. They were quite fond of Melbourne. Sometimes, they had to shoo kangaroos away and out of the frame. There was an abundance of flies buzzing around constantly. Many of these they had to digitally remove in post-production.
Commentary 2: Producer Gary Foster Rating: no votes yetLogin to vote or review
Reviewed by iwantmytvm on August 22nd, 2020:Find all reviews by iwantmytvm
Foster also comes through with an informative commentary, with only occasional pauses, and while there is some overlap with the first track, it is with a different perspective. He notes that the prologue was a reshoot and added later. He dispels the notion that all reshoots are inherently bad. Sometimes they are just necessary to flesh out the film. He also believes that audience testing and preview screenings cannot be done securely in the internet age.

Speaking to the origin or the project, Foster met with Mark Steven Johnson with the goal of creating a more accessible, lighter film after the very dark Daredevil. He stresses that scenes should hold up dramatically within context of comic book film, and that there is a fine line between maintaining a vision and striving for commercial success. He mentions Constantine as a cautionary tale for being too heavily a genre film. Foster is pleased with the box office success of this film. He is convinced that working with an experienced cinematographer helped Johnson grow as a more dynamic and visual director. He touches on the score by Christopher Young, as well as the sound design, the challenging conceptualization of the special effects for the Ghost Rider character and CGI fire elements.

Foster talks about his role as producer is to liaise and resolve disputes between the studio and those active in production, and mentions a few conflicts and disputes with the studio. These were often over wardrobe, such as the coat the Peter Fonda wore, or the refusal of Wes Bentley to shave his chest hair. The studio was also nervous about the fire throwing similarities to Fantastic Four and the Johnny Storm character. He cites securing the right to use Karen Carpenter songs as one of his main contributions, noting that he and Cage contacted Richard Carpenter personally to convince him they sought to use songs in earnest.

Foster has plenty to say about sets, locations, and shooting in Australia. He is appreciative of the local cast and crew, especially Rebel Wilson. He speaks about casting the principals, telling a story about how he was just 17 when meeting Sam Elliott for the first time and was glad to repay his kindness. Both Brett Cullen and Donal Logue were almost in Daredevil. This extended cut has elements of investigative journalism by the Eva Mendes character that were trimmed from the theatrical release. There is much to say about the contribution by Nicolas Cage to the film. Cage likes to improv, and asks for extra exploratory takes and ideas for character beats. He is a big comic book aficionado and knows what works in action films. In creating the look for Cage, they wanted to give him more hair than usual, and the red streaks proved to be a contentious issue with the studio. Foster observes that Cage was truly in great shape for the film and trained extensively.