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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF Blu-Ray Review: Ghost Town

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#1 of 7 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist


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Posted December 31 2008 - 12:06 PM

Ghost Town (Blu-Ray)

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Rated: PG-13 (for some strong language, sexual humor and drug references)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Spanish, French 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; English SDH+
Time: 102 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL BD
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date: 2008
Blu-Ray Release Date: December 28, 2008

When I see the name David Koepp on a picture, I start to get nervous. Koepp, primarily known as a screenwriter, is hit and miss with me: Jurassic Park: good, The Shadow: bad, Carlito’s Way: good, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: ehh, I’m not getting into that one. With Ghost Town, Koepp also puts on his directors cap to tell the story of an misanthropic dentist, Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais), who suddenly is able to see all the ghosts in Manhattan after he dies for seven minutes during a colonoscopy. Recent man v. bus victim Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear) finds Pincus, as does every other ghost in town, since Pincus may be a way for these spirits to finish their mortal business and move on. Right before Frank was killed, he was setting up a love nest for his mistress, a move that his wife, Gwen (Tea Leoni) uncovers. Now, Frank wants to use Pincus to get Gwen away from her new fiancée’, Richard (Billy Campbell). Pincus’ game of faux seduction of Gwen is aided by Frank whose disclosures to Pincus may not be entirely accurate, but may ultimately lead Pincus to a better life.

Thankfully, Koepp delivers on this one! The script is tight and funny with enough surprises to keep us interested and laughing. While it does play like a funnier Ghost in some respects, it is set apart due to the outstanding performance from Gervais. Gervais is a perfect choice to portray the pissy Pincus, and his contagious laugh, sly asides and quips and smooth double takes keep us smiling without the use of any nitrous oxide. It’s fair to say Gervais carries the picture and elevates it from what may have been an above average comedy into a star vehicle for him, pushing the picture into the must-see realm. Koepp also has fun with the ghosts themselves, bringing to mind an otherworldly Verizon network, as they chase Pincus around. Leoni may be the weak point here, as her role is pretty basic, but she does the best with what she is given. She has been one of my favorite comedic actresses for years dating back to the Fox show Flying Blind and we see too little of her these days. Kinnear infuses even more snark into the mix seemingly getting off on torturing poor Pincus. While not the best comedy I saw all year, (that title goes to Tropic of Thunder), Ghost Town is right up there.

Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player while a Denon 3808CI does the switching and pass through of the video signal. I am utilizing the HDMI capabilities of each piece of equipment.

The Blu-Ray disc is encoded in the MPEG-4 AVC codec at 1080p with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The picture is flawless and free from any dirt or debris, and I did not notice any edge enhancement or DNR. Colors are absolutely outstanding showing the rich lushness of fall in Manhattan and Central Park. There are numerous scenes on the streets of Manhattan showing flowers and other vegetation, as well as the interiors of the restaurants and apartments, and each of these is bold and spectacular. Flesh tones are accurate and a joke about Kristin Wiig’s spray tan is appreciated more when you can notice it before it is mentioned. Detail and sharpness are excellent and I was amazed at how well I could make out minute detail in the wall paper in Pincus’ office. Black levels maintain the quality of the rest of the picture showing good depth and detail.

The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the PS3 to the Denon 3808CI.

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is good, but it remains front heavy. The surrounds have little life to them and only engage to provide minimal ambient effects. Panning effects are good, and we are provided with a pleasing soundstage. LFE’s are minor and integrate well with the other channels. The soundtrack is free of any debris or other distortions.

Bonus Material: all items are in HD.

Commentary by writer/director David Koepp and Ricky Gervais: I’m glad Koepp enlisted Gervais for this, as he probably couldn’t carry it on his own. Anyone familiar with Gervais podcast show, The Ricky Gervais Show will see this as an extended episode of that. Koepp usually sets up how a shot was done or character motivations, then Gervais takes it in a much funnier way. A good and fun commentary.

The other bonus features consist of Making Ghost Town (22:40), a pretty good and energetic EPK that is livened up by Gervais and his dog; Some People Can Do It (6:21) is a lengthy and enjoyable outtake and gag reel (and boy, does Gervais have an infectious laugh); finally, Ghostly Effects (2:01) is a brief piece that shows how the effects were done via CG, green screen and other methods.

A good script is enhanced by a great performance from Ricky Gervais, and he is ably supported by Kinnear and Leoni. The Blu-ray gives us a reference quality picture, but simply an okay audio track and extras.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#2 of 7 OFFLINE   TonyD


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Posted January 02 2009 - 04:05 PM

great review Pat, and by that I mean I agree with everything you said. I really enjoyed this movie. I laughed, I cried. the part when Pincus
finally decides to help alll the ghosts resolve their reasons for still being around was beautifully shot, very touching maybe a bit moving.
one of my favorites of the year.

#3 of 7 OFFLINE   Edwin-S



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Posted January 02 2009 - 08:48 PM

I didn't get to see it in BD since I watched it at my sister's place, but it was a good film. The only thing I didn't like was
the set up with the mob hitter's ghost. They have that character show up several times and then conveniently ignore him when Pincus finally helps out the ghosts. The writer couldn't figure a way out of the corner he had written himself into so he just conveniently drops the character. I really hate that kind of cop out. If he couldn't come up with a resolution then he shouldn't have put the character in there to begin with.

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#4 of 7 ONLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted January 02 2009 - 11:46 PM

Been hearing really good things about this film. I think I will make a blind purchase.


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#5 of 7 OFFLINE   TheBat



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Posted January 03 2009 - 02:59 AM

its a good blind purchase. I saw it with my brother and his girlfriend. it was a really good funny movie. I think its a movie that adult of all ages can enjoy. a romantic comedy. Its a movie that you could show your parents. They would probably like it. Jacob

#6 of 7 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted January 13 2009 - 08:10 AM

This movie was terrific. I laughed heartily most of the way through. Being a big fan of Gervias (everything he does makes me laugh until I cry) didn't hurt matters. I rented this from Netflix but am buying for sure.
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#7 of 7 OFFLINE   headknocker



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Posted March 06 2009 - 06:12 AM

Sorry about digging up a seven-week old thread but I saw this flick around a week ago with my wife. We loved it! Gervias is one funny dude. I saw his HBO gig and he's a freakin' riot.

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