Length: 105 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 1080p
Languages: English, French, Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Spanish 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Dutch
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!
Ghostbusters is one of the most beloved comedies of the eighties, and fans of the film can rejoice in the fact that Sony has produced a first-rate Blu-ray disc. Reports of excessive grain and aliasing have been greatly exaggerated, so fans of the film can relax and enjoy it to the fullest. It has never looked or sounded better.
For the uninitiated, Ghostbusters is a tale of three psychologists who have been exploring paranormal phenomena at a New York City university. They are Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Dr. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis). When the university concludes that their research is hokum, they lose their grant and their office space. They decide to open their own business – “Our courteous and efficient staff is on call 24 hours a day to service all your supernatural elimination needs.” They buy a rundown fire house, restore a 1959 Cadillac (the “Ecto-1”), and hire a cynical secretary, Janine (Annie Potts). Business is slow (non-existent, actually) until a classical musician, Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) experiences a strange apparition in her apartment. She becomes the first client of the Ghostbusters, and of course Murray’s character immediately falls for her. But their big break comes when the luxurious Sedgewick Hotel is invaded by a particularly nasty ghost. The Ghostbusters manage to capture it, and they achieve instant fame. Before long New York City is experiencing an epidemic of paranormal activity, and the Ghostbusters find themselves working day and night. Clearly, something of biblical proportions seems to be in the works, and Dana Barrett’s apartment building is at the center of it.
The principal characters are ably supported by Rick Moranis as Louis Tully, a nebbish accountant who lives down the hall from Dana. William Atherton does a nice job as an obtuse Environmental Protection Agency bureaucrat who does not understand what the Ghostbusters are doing, so he concludes that they must be violating Federal Law. The witty script was written by Ramis and Ackroyd (with an uncredited assist by Moranis), but they give the funniest lines to Murray, who turns in one of his best comic performances. Ivan Reitman’s direction is excellent and the story moves along briskly. Ghostbusters is an impressive and very funny film which invites considerable repeat viewing.
Fear not – the 2.40:1 1080p transfer is wonderful, and it is unlikely that Ghostbusters has ever looked better. Film historian and preservationist Robert Harris reports that cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs had input into this new transfer, and the presumption is that this Blu-ray presentation is exactly as the filmmakers intended. Those who were upset about the 2005 DVD release will have little to complain about here. The overly punched-up contrast seen in that release has been scaled back and now has a very pleasing look. Yes, there is film grain, heavier in some scenes than others, but it is grain that is supposed to be present, and in fact it not nearly as grainy as some naysayers have claimed. The image is a bit soft here and there, but only a bit, and by all accounts that is precisely how the movie was filmed. To quote Mr. Harris, “Those who remember the film from its theatrical release will be thrilled with the new Blu-ray. Those who have only seen it on inferior home video formats will find themselves in for a treat. And those few who are new to Ghostbusters are in for a fun ride into the ancient past of filmmaking, when special effects were special effects without the aid of computers. And it all works beautifully.” Colors are solid and accurate, black levels are excellent, and shadow detail is very good. The scenes which were filmed on location in New York City are gorgeous.
The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack packs a lot of punch, which is important because Ghostbusters incorporates a heavy dose of loud sound effects. My litmus taste is to put my cat, Ajax, on my lap and see how long he will stay there during the noisier scenes. In this case, he barely lasted a few seconds before jumping off and finding a quieter place to sleep. The witty dialogue is clear and intelligible throughout, and the soundtrack’s music (which includes the title song by Ray Parker, Jr. and tunes by Laura Brannigan, Air Supply and others) comes alive with excellent separation and an expansive soundstage.
The Blu-ray release of Ghostbusters contains a few Blu-ray exclusives:
“Slimer Mode” is a picture-in-picture feature which can be activated to play while watching the movie. Pop-up trivia notes are interspersed with comments and reminiscences by many members of the cast and crew. The most notable absentee is Bill Murray.
“Ecto-1: Resurrecting the Classic Car” is a 15-minute featurette which shows how a run-down 1959 Cadillac was restored to become the trademark vehicle of the Ghostbusters. There also is a still gallery with photos of the Ecto-1 which runs for about five minutes.
The other extras have been carried over from the prior DVD special edition and are in standard definition.
“The Making of Ghostbusters” is a 1984 “making of” featurette which obviously was made in order to promote the film. It runs for about ten minutes.
“Interviews with Cast and Crew” is a 1999 featurette which includes interviews with much of the cast and crew, although once again Murray is a no-show.
A featurette called “SFX Team” includes before and after multi-angle looks at various FX scenes.
“Scene Cemetery” is a collection of ten deleted scenes.
“Making of Ghostbusters – The Video Game” is an interesting look at how the video game was made. It runs for eleven minutes. There also is a brief “preview” of the video game which looks more like a TV commercial.
Also included are storyboard comparisons and previews for several other Sony Blu-ray discs.
Finally, the old commentary track with Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis and associate producer Joe Medjuck is available on this disc.
The single disc comes in a standard Blu-ray keepcase. There also is a cardboard outer sleeve which contains the same artwork and information as the keepcase.
Some sources, including the Internet Movie Database, insist that the title of this film is Ghost Busters (two words). The confusion apparently stems from the way the title is shown in the opening credits:
However, on closer examination it is apparent that the filmmakers intended “Ghostbusters” to be one word. For one thing, the title song is listed as “Ghostbusters” in the closing credits. For another, the sign above the fire house entrance is “Ghostbusters” (one word). That is proof enough for me.
The Final Analysis
Ghostbusters has been given first class treatment by Sony. I have a difficult time believing that any fan of the film will be disappointed, and I am certain that viewers who are seeing the film for the first time will be greatly impressed.
Who you gonna call? Your favorite Blu-ray dealer, that’s who!
Equipment used for this review:
Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
Sharp LC-42D62U LCD display
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable
Release Date: June 16, 2009