SRP $38.95 2.40:1 PCM 5.1 SONY
 
SRP $28.95 2.35:1(16:9) DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1/DTS SONY
 
SRP $28.95 1.33:1 DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1/DTS SONY
 

SONY is releasing "GHOST RIDER" on three separate dvd versions! Aargh! Why???  It's really frustrating to find a studio that does so much good, especially in terms of its blu-ray and letterboxing, wouldn't opt to provide a combination of these on one release. One can either buy the widescreen theatrical cut, pan&scan theatrical cut, or extended version-widescreen.  These could've been all made available on one release!!!  If the blu-ray version offers only a widescreen, extended cut, that should've been more than good enough for the dvd release!

That said, Director Mark Steven Johnson pumps more life into the comic book adaptation of "GHOST RIDER" than he managed to do for "DAREDEVIL."  Nicolas Cage is great as Johnny Blaze, a stuntman grappling with the devil(Peter Fonda)after his father was taken by him in a trick agreement. The devil wants Johnny to find and return 150 souls he's still owed as well, and, well, there's much more. In fact, as so many of these comic-book adaptations do, there's too much material without enough fine writing. So, the story becomes confusing, even when it should be simple. There are some fun effects and some great action scenes, but as with all of this director's works, there are plenty of dull moments too.

SONY has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement for the widescreen theatrical dvd version.  Colors are rich and there are no artifacts, however there's less detail than expected in a SONY release.  It's generally a decent, albeit soft looking transfer. Contrast is fine and darker scenes are still adequate, though with only moderate depth.

The "extended cut" blu-ray version is slightly wider, approximately 2.40:1.  It is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 . "GHOST RIDER" ranks up there with the best blu-ray presentations available!  Colors are rich and this is one of the slickest looking transfers to come out in a while.  No matter how vivid the image, it never appears over-saturated. Contrast is outstanding and the detail in every scene, bright or dark, is amazing! BRAVO, SONY, BRAVO!!!  The "extended cut" offers about 9 minutes more of filler, intended to offer more background to Johnny's past. However, a one minute egg made by Mark Steven Johnson would take 30 minutes and the extra footage makes a film that's already too long, really, really overly long. 

The pan&scan image provided on the full frame release is problematic all the way through.  In addition to over 1/3 of the picture being missing, there's excessive grain and colors veer towards over-saturation in more than a few instances.

SONY has provided the same Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS options for both releases. Both mixes are aggressive, with plenty of discrete and surround effects. However, the DTS mix, as has typically been the case on dvd, is superior, by providing deeper bass and better dynamic range.  Unfortunately, dialogue is overshadowed by effects on both mixes at times.

SONY has offered both a PCM 5.1 and a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix for the blu-ray release!  Let's hope that this foretells of things to come with SONY. Both uncompressed mixes on one disc!!! While the PCM mix is notably louder than the TrueHD mix, both are outstanding. "GHOST RIDER" offers one of the most aggressive mixes of any blu-ray available. Layers upon layers of effects run throughout the film, without ever overshadowing the dialogue. Bass effects are plentiful as well.

SONY has provided two audio commentaries and mini-documentaries. The commentary with Johnson is actually entertaining and insightful.