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COLUMBIA TRISTAR

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Ivan Reitman
Cast:
Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, William Atherton, Ernie Hudson
Writing Credits:
Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis

Tagline:
They're Here To Save The World.

Synopsis:
When Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murrary) and his Columbia University colleagues (Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson) are kicked out of their prestigious academic posts, they start a private practice as professional ghost-catchers. Although the three parascientists are idle for awhile, their television advertisements finally pay off when beautiful Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) contracts them. It seems her apartment has become the entryway for ghastly ghosts and goofy ghouls hellbent on terrorizing New York City. Soon they're going to her rescue, trying to rid the city of the slimy creatures. Ghostbusters hit US screens in June of 1984 and went on to become one of the most successful comedy films of all time, spawning a sequel and a popular animated series.

Box Office:
Budget
$30 million.
Opening Weekend
$13.612 million on 1339 screens.
Domestic Gross
$238.632 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.40:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1
French Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Portuguese
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
French
Portuguese
Spanish
Dutch

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $28.95
Release Date: 6/16/2009

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Ivan Reitman, Actor/Co-Writer Harold Ramis and Associate Producer Joe Medjuck
• “Slimer Mode” Interactive Feature
• “Ecto-1: Resurrecting the Classic Car” Featurette
• “Making of Ghostbusters – The Video Game” Featurette
• “Ghostbusters Garage: Ecto-1 Gallery”
Ghostbusters – The Video Game Preview
• 10 Deleted Scenes
• 1984 Featurette
• Cast and Crew Featurette
• SFX Team Featurette
• Special Effects Before and After Featurette


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Ghostbusters [Blu-Ray] (1984)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 9, 2009)

“If there's something weird..."

"And it don't look good..."

"Who ya gonna call?"

Well, I suppose that would depend on the nature of the oddity. I mean, if it's some apparently disreputable people, I'd phone the police, but if we're talking about an unusual growth or mole, I guess I'd contact my doctor. UFOs? I guess it'd end up in the hands of the military or some such. Really, you need to be more specific!

What?? Oh. Um... Actually... Ghostbusters?

Ghostbusters has been one of my favorite films for quite some time, and it was one of the first movies that I grew to love through video viewings. I saw it during its theatrical run in 1984 and thought it was okay but nothing special.

That opinion changed radically as I watched it over and over on videotape. It's been so long now that I can't really remember what changed my opinion, but the fact remains that Ghostbusters is a charming and funny movie and one that has aged very well over the last 25 years.

The lion's share of the credit for the success of Ghostbusters comes from the unstoppable presence of Bill Murray as Peter Venkman. He was on the top of the world at that point in his career, and Ghostbusters demonstrates that nicely. While the rest of the terrific cast offers fine work, this is Murray's movie and it lives and dies with him.

That's why it continues to work so well. Ghostbusters isn't my favorite Murray movie - the horribly underappreciated Quick Change takes that honor - but it offers probably his best performance. Murray's very good in that film, but I love it mostly because of the contributions of supporting players such as Tony Shalhoub and Kurtwood Smith. As such, Murray needed to provide a strong performance for that film to work, but he didn't have to carry the whole show.

The situation isn't quite that extreme with Ghostbusters - such a terrific supporting cast makes that impossible - but I nonetheless feel that it wouldn't be nearly as fun and entertaining as it is without Murray's amazing performance. I think he's part of the reason why I enjoyed the movie so much on videotape, even though the fullscreen transfer is a badly botched pan and scan job: Murray's so magnetic that the presence of the other actors frequently seems irrelevant.

Not to slam the rest of the cast, of course, because they all do very well in their parts; there's not a weak link in the chain. Probably the best supporting work comes from Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett, the Ghostbusters' first client and Venkman's prospective girlfriend and Rick Moranis as Louis Tully, nerdy accountant turned into supernatural figure. Weaver gives Barrett a strongly grounded sense that seems crucial to the success of the movie as well. She's never been more charming, engaging and natural than she is here.

Moranis has been a favorite of mine since back in the days of SCTV and he does the exact opposite of Weaver: his performance is a blatant caricature and tremendously over the top. But you know what? It works. Louis isn't as important to the plot, but Moranis offers a fun kind of goofiness that makes his work endearing. Louis is clearly something of a loser, but he's a very lovable loser as Moranis gives him a sweet quality that keeps him from becoming just a stupid stereotype.

Ultimately, Ghostbusters isn't the most clever or best plotted or best constructed film in the world, although it does pretty well for itself on all those accounts. It's simply very amusing and a lot of fun, a movie that includes very few dull spots despite the large cast and the tremendous amount of exposition involved. I'm clearly biased, since this movie's been a personal favorite for so long, but I think Ghostbusters is one of the best comedies ever filmed.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Ghostbusters appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I saw Ghostbuster theatrically and have owned it on VHS, laserdisc and two DVD releases. While never dazzling, I thought the Blu-ray offered easily the most attractive home video rendition of the film.

Prior editions had trouble with sharpness, and a bit of softness occasionally interfered with wider shots. However, most of the movie looked pretty well-defined. This wasn’t the crispest presentation I’ve seen, but the movie usually demonstrated good clarity. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, though, and edge enhancement was absent. Other than bouts of moderate grain, source flaws weren’t a factor. The movie looked clean and lacked anything more than a small speck or two.

In terms of palette, flick remained fairly gray, and the characters appeared as though they’d not seen the sun in a while. I felt satisfied with the colors of this transfer and felt they demonstrated the appropriate visual design. Blacks were also quite good, and low-light shots seemed fine. Though the image showed its age and teetered on the brink of a “B” grade, I liked enough of it to give it a “B+”.

The Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Ghostbusters also worked well. Ghostbusters didn’t use a tremendously broad soundfield, but it definitely opened things up more than usual for a flick of its era. Music showed nice stereo dimensionality, while effects spread smoothly across the front. As one might expect, the various ghost-related scenes offered the best opportunities for movement and activity, so the soundtrack provided the most action in its second half. The surrounds added good life during those spook segments. They kicked in good reinforcement of the spirits and Ghostbuster attacks, so they became reasonably active partners in the action.

Audio quality held up well over the last 25 years. Only a smidgen of edginess ever interfered with the lines, as they usually seemed clear and concise. Music showed good range and vivacity, and effects appeared well-rendered. The various elements showed nice definition and offered a good punch in the louder moments. Distortion wasn’t a problem, as only a little crackling ever crept through into the mix. This was a well above average track for a mid-80s flick.

How did the picture and audio of the Blu-ray Disc compare to those of the most recent DVD release of Ghostbusters? Both demonstrated definite improvements. The picture looked considerably cleaner and better defined, while audio appeared more natural. I thought the 2005 DVD suffered from excessive LFE usage; its bass was often boomy and distracting. The Blu-ray featured appropriate low-end and seemed natural and clear. Without question, the Blu-ray provided easily the best home video representation of the film.

The Blu-ray offers most of the supplements from the last DVD along with some new ones. I’ll note Blu-ray exclusives with blue type.

We begin with the same audio commentary found on the old disc. It includes a running, screen-specific chat with director Ivan Reitman, co-writer/actor Harold Ramis and associate producer Joe Medjuck. They discuss the project’s origins and the development of the script, improvisation and characters, casting, visual effects, sets and locations, and general anecdotes.

At its best, this track offers a nice take on the film, and I certainly can’t fault the scope of the material. However, too much of the time, we simply hear quotes of movie lines, praise for the flick, and laughing at the gags. Occasional dead air also mars the proceedings. There’s definitely enough good information on display to make this a useful commentary, but the flaws mean that it doesn’t ever become a great one.

An interactive Slimer Mode gives us information throughout the movie. It uses pop-up windows to provide some text facts as well as interviews with various folks involved in the production. We find notes from Reitman, Ramis, Medjuck, writer/actor Dan Aykroyd, film historian Paul M. Sammon, animation supervisor/creature design consultant Terry Windell, visual effects supervisor Richard Edlund, visual effects art director John Bruno, associate producer Michael C. Gross, creature design consultant Bernie Wrightson, and actors Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, and William Atherton. The comments cover the original story treatment and its evolution into the final script, cast, characters and performances, the production timeline and related pressures, creatures and effects, science and influences, sets and locations, the Ecto-1 and other props, the theme song and score, and a few other production topics.

We get a pretty good array of information from the “Slimer Mode”. The text boxes are the most inconsistent side of things. Many of these – especially the ones about characters – just repeat information we get during the film itself. They do occasionally offer some fun “facts” about various locations, though.

As for the interviews, they tend to be useful. They pop up less frequently than I’d like, especially during the film’s second half, but they come around often enough to avoid frustrations. “Slimer Mode” isn’t the best of the interactive Blu-ray pieces I’ve seen, but it’s engaging enough.

For more about the film’s iconic automobile, we go to Ecto-1: Resurrecting the Classic Car. In this 15-minute and 37-second piece, we hear from Aykroyd, Ramis, Sony Pictures Consumer Products director Keith Hargrove, Cinema Vehicle Services owner Ray Claridge, Cinema Vehicle Services mechanic Mark Mazure, and Cinema Vehicle Services shop manager Sam Salerno. We get a few notes about the Ecto-1 and its modern refurbishment. The show offers a moderately interesting look at the work put into bringing the car back to life.

In addition to a one-minute and 42-second Ghostbusters – The Video Game Preview that simply shows shots of the game, we get The Making of Ghostbusters – The Video Game. It runs 11 minutes, 18 seconds and includes remarks from Ramis, Hudson, Atherton, Aykroyd, Hargrove, Sony Pictures Consumer Products VP, Licensing Mark Caplan, Terminal Reality president Mark Randel, Terminal Reality lead level designer Andy Dombroski, Terminal Reality lead game designer Stephen Cluff, Terminal Reality lead animator Angel Gonzalez, Terminal Reality creative director Drew Haworth, executive producer John Melchior, and actors Annie Potts and Ryan French. We learn a little about the development of the new video game. It looks like it might be fun, but this featurette exists as nothing other than promotion.

A running photo montage comes to us with the five-minute and 27-second Ghostbusters Garage: Ecto-1 Gallery. This shows the state of the vehicle pre-restoration and as it went through refurbishment. It’s mildly interesting at best.

As implied by its title, the 1984 Featurette was produced at the time of the movie’s theatrical release and runs nine minutes, 45 seconds. It's essentially a puff piece but it's a lot of fun. Due to lots of good footage from the set, it offers more depth than the usual promotional featurette, and the brief interview clips with the principals are very entertaining. We hear from Reitman, Weaver, Aykroyd, Edlund, production designer John De Cuir, and actors Bill Murray and Rick Moranis. Murray proves especially amusing as he tosses out his usual wisecracks. We don’t learn tons about the movie, but we enjoy the ride anyway.

We also get a circa 1999 Cast and Crew Featurette that goes for 10 minutes, 53 seconds. This one only includes interviews with Ramis, Reitman, and Aykroyd. We hear about the project’s origins and the recruitment of the team members, story issues, their kids’ reactions to the movie, impressions from the set, and the flick’s impact on their careers. It's got a few decent moments but it’s not as much fun as the older one. Murray, Weaver, and Moranis are sorely missed, and it lacks all the interesting behind the scenes shots. I also would have liked more about making the flick and less of Aykroyd’s unconventional ideas about the supernatural.

Finally, a third SFX Team Featurette provides 1999 interviews with much of the special effects crew. It lasts 15 minutes and 23 seconds and includes remarks from Edlund, Bruno, Windell, technical animator Annick Therrien, visual effects editor Conrad Buff, chief matte artist Matthew Yuricich, model shop supervisor Mark Stetson, chief visual effects cameraman Bill Neil, matte department supervisor Neil Krepela, mechanical effects supervisor Thaine Morris, visual effects still photographer Virgil Mirano, and matte artist Michelle Moen. We learn how the team came together, various challenges – including the budget – and how they accomplished the flick’s main effects and visual elements.

It’s entertaining, partly because of the "old school" methods that were used – I can't watch "Slimer" fly around the chandelier without laughing now that I know how they did it - but also because the participants don't just focus on the technical work. They also provide insight into the other aspects of the production. Although I wish it were longer, it's a fine featurette.

What else? There's a section called SFX: Before and After that lets you view shots with or without effects. You can view the way they looked in the finished film and they way they appeared in the rough cut before the special effects were added. It offers some decent material but nothing special.

We also get a bunch of storyboards, which are provided in a couple different ways. Split-screen comparisons are offered for three different scenes; the storyboards appear on the top of the picture while the actual film images appear on the bottom. We get these for “Slimer” (2:13), “Dogs Drag Dana” (2:09) and “Atop Spook Central” (2:04). These are okay, but never terribly fascinating.

Ghostbusters features ten deleted sequences in the Scene Cemetery. The shortest segment is 17 seconds long, whereas the lengthiest goes for 84 seconds; in total, we get seven minutes, 39 seconds of footage. None of these are fantastic - you can see why they weren't used - but they all are fun. The best of the bunch provides a bit that features Murray and Aykroyd in different roles.

Does the Blu-ray lose anything from the earlier releases? Yup – for reasons unknown, the disc drops a large collection of production photos and storyboards. The 2005 DVD ditched some components from the 1999 version, and those remain missing here. That means we still lack the original subtitle commentary and the Ghostbusters trailer. Both DVDs included (different) booklets; neither form of booklet reappears here.

After 25 years, Ghostbusters remains a comedy classic. I’ve seen this movie at least 30 times over that quarter of a century. And you know what? It still makes me laugh. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and sound with a pretty nice roster of extras.

As a longtime Ghostbusters fan, I’ll have to hold onto my old DVDs because they include some supplements that don’t reappear here. In terms of movie presentation, though, the Blu-ray acts as by far the best rendition of Ghostbusters we’ve yet received. It’s not perfect, but it’s easily the strongest home video edition to date.

To rate this film, visit the Double Feature Gift Set Edition review of GHOSTBUSTERS