Casper appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a generally good transfer but not one that excelled.
For the most part, sharpness was pleasing. A few wider shots demonstrated some tentative delineation, but those never became major issues. Instead, the movie usually offered good clarity and definition.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, but some light edge haloes cropped up during the flick. Source flaws were minor, as I noticed a few small specks but nothing more.
Grain seemed erratic. Some shots offered a good layer, but others – mainly interiors – could feel a bit “scrubbed”. Still, the noise reduction didn’t seem heavy, so the image usually retained a fairly natural feel.
Colors worked well. I thought the hues looked nicely warm and natural, and the movie displayed a bright and vivid palette throughout the film.
Black levels appeared deep and rich, and shadow detail was appropriately heavy but not excessively thick. All of this was good enough for a “B-”.
Back in the laserdisc days, the DTS LD of Casper became regarded as one of the all-time great soundtracks. 25 years later, the mix held up well and remained impressive.
The soundfield felt well-defined and engaging, so throughout the movie, all five speakers received a nice workout. The forward spectrum provided clean and well-delineated sound that spread clearly and accurately across the front speakers.
Music showed positive stereo separation, and effects were placed appropriately within the spectrum. Elements also blended together well, and they panned neatly from side to side.
Surround usage seemed to be excellent, as the rear speakers often added some serious punch to the package. During quieter scenes, the surrounds stayed with general ambience, but the louder sequences strongly ratcheted up the auditory action.
Those parts of the film made the rear channels active partners in the mix and they created a very encompassing and aggressive setting. When appropriate, the soundfield became quite involving and powerful, usually connected to the various ghosts.
Audio quality also seemed to be quite good, so speech was warm and concise. Music appeared robust and bright, and it held its own among the mix of competing elements.
Effects were positively terrific, as they showed fine clarity and excellent dynamics. When the mix got loud, the effects appeared powerful and accurate.
Low-end seemed to be very strong, as explosions and other deep elements sounded rich and vibrant. Ultimately, Casper offered an excellent auditory experience.
As we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Brad Silberling. He brings a running, screen-specific look at story and characters, sets and locations, cast and performances, music, effects and animation, stunts, and connected domains.
From start to finish, Silberling provides a simply terrific commentary. He remains invested and involved throughout the discussion, and he touches on all the appropriate topics. Expect a really strong chat here.
One Deleted Scene lasts three minutes, 16 seconds. It brings a therapy session between Dr. Harvey and the ghostly trio. A musical number, it wouldn’t add to the film’s narrative, but it offers some fun.
The scene didn’t get finished due to costs, so it remains incomplete here. The Blu-ray allows us two versions: one that shows what the sequence would look like sans any ghosts, and another that lets us see animator’s reference models where the ghosts would be. I like the option to see the two renditions.
We can watch the scene with or without a one-minute, 43-second intro that features Silberling, producer Colin Wilson, and actors Bill Pullman and Joe Alaskey.
They give us a quick overview of the sequence and why it got the boot. (The answer is money, as the scene would’ve cost a fortune due to the heavy use of CG.)
The scene also comes with optional commentary from Silberling. He mainly lets us know what we would see if the sequence got completed, and that makes his chat helpful.
Revealing Casper goes for 47 minutes, 10 seconds and offers notes from Silberling, Pullman, Alaskey, Wilson, production designer Les Dilley, director of photography Dean Cundey, executive producer Steven Spielberg, screenwriters Sherri Stoner and Deanna Oliver, animation director Phil Nibbelink, set decorator Rosemary Brandenburg, stunt coordinator Gary Hymes, digital character modeling supervisor Kyle Odermatt, digital character supervisors Dennis Muren and Stefan Fangmeier, visual effects plate supervisor Scott Farrar, editor Michael Kahn, animation director Eric Armstrong, character design supervisor David Carson, digital modeler Matthew Hendershot, composer James Newton Howard, and actors Cathy Moriarty, Christina Ricci, Malachi Pearson, Joe Nipote, Eric Idle, and Brad Garrett.
“Revealing” discusses the project’s origins and development, story, characters and screenplay, how Silberling arrived on the project, cast and performances, sets and locations, animation and effects, stunts, editing, music, and the film’s release.
As that synopsis implies, “Revealing’ offers a pretty thorough overview of the production, though it starts on a cutesy note, as it launches with a discussion of Casper as though he were a real actor. Happily, “Revealing” soon abandons that dopey conceit and turns into a solid discussion of the movie’s creation.
Finally, we locate an animated short from 1956. Penguin for Your Thoughts runs seven minutes and provides Casper’s attempt to deliver a wayward baby penguin to the South Pole. Thoughts seems more cute than funny, but I’m glad the disc includes a look as “classic Casper”.
As a piece of family entertainment, Casper seems mildly above average. While it comes with its ups and downs, it delivers a memorable finale and does enough to seem reasonably likable. The Blu-ray brings acceptable visuals along with top-notch audio and a mix of very good bonus materials. Casper doesn’t consistently click, but it manages some good moments.