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GHOSTBUSTERS (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 11, 2009 by  



“The sci-fi comedy classic ‘GHOSTBUSTERS’ makes its debut on Blu-ray for its 25th Anniversary. Well-written and well-acted, ‘GHOSTBUSTERS’ looks and sounds incredible on High Definition plus new features exclusive to the Blu-ray release. ‘GHOSTBUSTERS’ is highly recommended!”

Images courtesy of © 1984 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: GHOSTBUSTERS

DURATION: 102 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1),  English, French Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Dutch

RATED: PG

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2009

Directed by Ivan Reitman

Written by Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis

Executive Producer: Bernie Brillstein

Produced by Ivan Reitman

Associate Produced by Michael C. Gross, Joe Medjuck

Music by Elmer Bernstein

Director of Photography: Laszlo Kovacs

Editing by David E. Blewitt, Sheldon Kahn

Casting by Karen Rea

Production Design by John DeCuir

Art Direction by John DeCuir, Jr.

Set Decoration by Marvin March

Costume Design by Theoni V. Aldredge, Suzy Benzinger

Starring:

Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman

Dan Aykroyd as Dr. Raymond Stantz

Harold Ramis as Dr. Egon Spengler

Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett

Rick Moranis as Louis Tully

Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz

William Atherton as Walter Peck

Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddmore

David Margulies as Mayor

A trio of university parasychologists lose their research grant and decide to open their own business, “Ghostbusters,” and almost at once are summoned to investigate the strange happenings in a Central Park West apartment. What they discover is that all Manhattan is being besieged by other worldly demons.

In 1984, “GHOSTBUSTERS” was one of the ultimate summer blockbusters (next to “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”) that would capture the attention of America and a film that would unite America’s top comedians and talents in one film.   The film has been literally “must-buys” for sci-fi fans in the last two decades with its release on LD, VHS, DVD and now, the film gets its 25th Anniversary release on Blu-ray.

“GHOSTBUSTERS” stars Bill Murray (“Stripes”, “Lost in Translation”, “Rushmore” and “Groundhog Day”), Dan Aykroyd (“The Blues Brothers”, “Trading Places” and “Dragnet), Rick Moranis (“Spaceballs”, “Little Shop of Horrors”and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”)  and major talents Sigourney Weaver (“Aliens”, “Galaxy Quest” and “Vantage Point”), Harold Ramis (“Stripes”, “Airheads”, “Groundhog Day”), Annie Potts (“Pretty in Pink”, “Toy Story”, “Designing Women”), William Atherton (“Die Hard”, “The Last Samurai” and “Life”) and Ernie Hudson (“Oz”, “Desperate Housewives”, “The Crow”).

The film would feature the talents of director Ivan Reitman (“Meatballs”, “Stripes”, “Twins” and “My Super Ex-Girlfriend”), conductor/composer Elmer Bernstein (“Twilight”, “Spies Like Us” and “Cape Fear”) and cinematographer Laszlo Kovacz (“Say Anything”, “Mask”, “Copycat” and “Miss Congeniality”).

Since its release back in 1984, “GHOSTBUSTERS” continues to be among the top 50 highest grossing films in America (the #2 highest grossing film in 1984), was nominated for two Academy Awards (“Best Effects, Visual Effects” and “Best Music, Original Song”) and ranked by the American Film Institute as #28 in their “AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs” list.

The film revolves around three parapsychology researchers Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) who go on their first paranormal venture at the New York Public Library.  The group see their first ghost and are excited about what they encountered.  Unfortunately, the group doesn’t have so much time to celebrate what they discovered.   Because of the lack of support from their peers at Columbia University, their research grants are terminated and the group’s studies and services is terminated.

But the trio feel they can do much more if they started their own business and after Stantz takes a mortgage on his parent’s home for money, the guys immediately establish “Ghostbusters”, an organization that specializes in professional paranormal investigations and elimination.

The group then grows as they successfully catch ghosts and begin to receive a lot of press nationwide because of their work.  Almost to the point of celebrity status.  As the company grows, they add receptionist Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts) and a fourth member Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) to the team.

Meanwhile, Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), a classic musician has been having paranormal activity in her apartment.  She has had weird situations happening in her apartment and at one time, in her fridge, something was yelling “Zuul”.

Unfortunately, Dr. Peter Venkman is unable to find anything in her apartment and Barrett recognizes that Venkman is more interested in her than her case and kicks him out of her apartment.  Eventually, the two see each other again as Dr. Venkman has done his research and learns that Zuul is a  demigod worshiped in 6000 BC by the Hittites, Mesopotanians and Sumerians as a minion of Gozer, the shape-shifting god of destruction.  And while with her, he manages to get a date with Dana.

On the night of their date, while sitting in her apartment and getting prepared for her date, Dana notices a light emanating from her kitchen.  All of a sudden, monster-like arms start coming out of her chair and she is held down and  whisked into the kitchen. When Dr. Venkman goes to visit her, he notices that she is acting differently.  When she starts licking him and starts levitating, he immediately realizes that something paranormal has happened to her.

Meanwhile, Barrett’s nerdy neighbor, accountant Louis Tully (who is madly in love with Dana) has a party at his apartment and next thing you know, a wild beast starts going after him.  As he tries to run away from it, the beast eventually captures him and possesses him.

But things are not all good with the Ghostbusters.  Walter Peck (William Atherton) who represents the US Environmental Protection Agency wants to bust the organization for keeping hazardous material (the ghosts) in their building.  He effectively has the power shut down to their building and immediately all ghosts are released and are unleashed back into the city and are now causing problems.

With the city in turmoil, the Ghostbusters are now New York’s best hope in stopping the ghosts but first, the guys must quickly go to take on Zuul and find a way to rescue Dana (and Louis).  Does the Ghostbusters have what it takes to stop this supernatural force?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“GHOSTBUSTERS” gets its HD transfer with a 1080p High Definition (aspect ratio 2:40:1) transfer.  For the most part, the picture quality is very good.   A problem with many 80’s (and early 90’s) films is that they have been released with a lot of digital noise reduction on Blu-ray.  This has given a soft sometimes cloudy look to the film and for the most part, videophiles have been very vocal of how they have had a disdain towards excessive DNR and edge enhancement.  With that being said, “GHOSTBUSTERS” features a film that retains its grain.

Suffice to say, the grain can be seen throughout the film which is a good thing since grain is part of the film.  There are scenes that are just look incredible on Blu-ray, such as the scene with the Ghostbusters taking on their major nemesis at the last quarter of the film.  Because of the colors, I found the picture quality to look very good during the latter part of the film.  “GHOSTBUSTERS” has never been a film that I ever though of as vibrant but overall the picture quality is very good.  If there is anything that I can see as a problem are the debates from those who support DNR and dislike their films with a lot of grain.  Personally, I am happy that Sony opted to keep the grain for the film’s High Definition transfer.

Is the picture quality great?  No, it’s very good but not great.  Considering how old this film is and comparing it to the original DVD, the Blu-ray transfer is the best video transfer the film has had thus far.

As for the audio, “GHOSTBUSTERS” is featured in English, French and Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (and Spanish 5.1).  I’ve noticed some really good usage of the rears during an elevator scene and the action sequence in which the Ghostbusters must use their weapons in order to capture the ghosts.  For the most part, the film does showcase the best audio of this film on Blu-ray with its lossless track.   I didn’t notice so much LFE usage coming from my subwoofers but there is good usage of the fronts and surrounds during the film.  The film does feature a lot of dialogue and the dialogue can be heard clearly, as well as Ray Parker, Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” theme and the various music tracks used throughout the film.

“GHOSTBUSTERS” doesn’t feature the most immersive soundtrack but compared to DVD, the film is more alive through the lossless track.

As for subtitles, English English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Dutch are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“GHOSTBUSTERS” comes with a good number of special features that are new for this 25th Anniversary release but also features from the original DVD.  Included are:

  • Cinechat – The ability for people with Blu-ray 2.0 profile players to communicate online while watching the film.
  • Audio Commentary with Director Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis and Joe Medjuk – The commentary is quite interesting as the men talk about the film in detail.  From the cast, special effects used on the film, set locations and more.
  • Blu Wizard – This allows you to watch the film but by selecting this menu will bring up certain special features and then the film will branch out to these features and once done, return to the film.  This is primarily for those who don’t want to watch the full special feature featurettes and can select certain segments.
  • Slimer Mode – This allows you to watch the film with interviews, pictures via picture-in-picture while watching the film.
  • Ecto 1: Resurrecting the Classic Car – (15:37) Featured in High Definition, this segment features the Ecto-1 vehicle (a ’59 Cadillac Series 2) being restored by Cinema Vehicle Services and given a modern revamp for the interior and prepare it for promotionals of the upcoming Ghostbusters video game.  Also, featuring a visit from Dan Aykroyd who got to see the final restoration.
  • Making of the Ghostbusters Video Game – (11:10) Featured in High Definition, people can watch the making of the video game as the talent from the first film are brought back for the video game and lent their voices to the video game.  This time the character of Walter Peck has been possessed and takes on the Ghostbusters gang.
  • Ghostbusters Garage: Ecto-1 Gallery – (5:26) A featurette featuring music and playing the various imagery of how the Ecto-1 was before restoration and then after.  Featured in High Definition.
  • Ghostbusters the video Game Preview – (1:43) The actual video game trailer.
  • Scene Cemetery – This segment features ten deleted scenes: Stake, Diana, Honeymooners, Winston, Bums, Busy, Promotion, E.P.A., Puft Hat and “No Louis!”.  The deleted scenes are in standard definition and not cleaned up.
  • 1984 Featurette – (9:45) The original standard definition featurette with interviews with the cast about working with each other and information about their characters.  If there is one thing you will discover is how technical Dan Aykroyd was with the high tech equipment featured and the name of the devices.
  • Cast and Crew Featurette – (10:53) Interviews with Director Ivan Reitman and the cast about the film and why they feel it did well in the box office.
  • SFX Team Featurette – (15:20) Interviews with Richard Edlund (Visual Effects Supervisor), John Bruno (Visual Effects Art Director) and special effects crew (some that worked on “Star Wars” and “Poltergeist”) about the animations used on the film and what they did to create the special effects at that time.   Also, how it took 10 months to work on.
  • Multi-Angle Featurette – This featurette shows the following three scenes: Spook Central Exploding, She’s a Dog and Crossing the Streams.  And you can use your angle button to see the various scenes and how they were planned before adding the final special effects touches.
  • Storyboard Comparisons – This feature has three primary scenes: Slimer, Dogs Drag Dana, Atop Spook Central and with the storyboards on top and the actual scene from the film at the bottom.
  • Previews – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment trailers

“GHOSTBUSTERS” is simply a classic.  For any science fiction, “GHOSTBUSTERS” has been on fans collections for decades.  May it be VHS, DVD and now Blu-ray.  This is a title that is a no-brainer of films that are must-own!

It’s hard to believe that 25-years have passed since the release of this film but who can forget the green ghost sliming Dr. Venkman, the wacky and witty characters and the big giant Stay Puft Marshmallow man walking through the city of New York.  The film at the time was a fantastic film sporting the latest in special effects.

I can easily remember how this film was so fun and as a child, being so inspired by the special effects that it prompted me to take a broken vacuum cleaner, strap it on my back, sport some overalls and pretend I was a member of the Ghostbusters team.  These guys were just a heroic team that was so inspirational that a sequel was created and two animated series were released not long after.

People loved “GHOSTBUSTERS” and here were are 25-years-later and with a third film in the works with the original crew.

So, needless to say, “GHOSTBUSTERS” is a must buy film on Blu-ray.  The picture and audio quality is much better than its DVD counterparts and you also get more recent special features for this 25th Anniversary release.  Again, among Blu-ray fans, the picture quality can be debated among those who are supportive of grain and those who like their films with DNR and less grain.  But personally, I’m glad that Sony elected for a film that retained its grain.

“GHOSTBUSTERS” is a film that is just enjoyable now as it 25-years ago.  Well-written, well-acted and a true classic that is highly recommended!

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