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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Ghostbusters



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#1 of 40 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted June 13 2009 - 07:23 PM

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Studio: Sony/Columbia

Year: 1984

Rated: PG

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


The Program

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.

The Video

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 Audio

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 Supplements

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 Packaging

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.

Trivia Note

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:

Ghost
Busters


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
Rich Gallagher

#2 of 40 OFFLINE   Scott D S

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Posted June 14 2009 - 04:23 AM

On the 2005 DVD release, one of the deleted scenes was misspelled. "Bums" was listed as "Burns." Has this been fixed?

This, along with a couple other errors from that release are listed here:
Spook Central: The Ghostbusters Companion - "Ghostbusters" On DVD

#3 of 40 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted June 14 2009 - 07:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott D S
On the 2005 DVD release, one of the deleted scenes was misspelled. "Bums" was listed as "Burns." Has this been fixed?

I didn't notice, but I'll check and let you know.
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#4 of 40 OFFLINE   Todd Erwin

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Posted June 16 2009 - 05:46 AM

I think I may pick this up today at Fry's.

#5 of 40 OFFLINE   Jeff Robertson

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Posted June 16 2009 - 12:01 PM

I decided to get this in store as well instead of Amazon seeing as how Best Buy had it for $19 and I was able to use a $5 coupon I obtained here:

Ghostbusters Is Hiring

I just skimmed through the disc, but it appears to be a good representation of film from that period. Grain is there as well as some softening.

Another good catalog title from Sony!

#6 of 40 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H

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Posted June 16 2009 - 12:10 PM

Too bad that coupon is only good in the U.S. Even Disney had Canadian coupons on Bolt and Bedtime Stories.
"My opinion is that (a) anyone who actually works in a video store and does not understand letterboxing has given up on life, and (b) any customer who prefers to have the sides of a movie hacked off should not be licensed to operate a video player."-- Roger Ebert

#7 of 40 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

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Posted June 16 2009 - 03:03 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott D S
On the 2005 DVD release, one of the deleted scenes was misspelled. "Bums" was listed as "Burns." Has this been fixed?

This, along with a couple other errors from that release are listed here:
Spook Central: The Ghostbusters Companion - "Ghostbusters" On DVD

The Blu-ray is correctly spelled: "Bums."

I thought it looked fantastic, viewed on a 92 in. FP set-up. Really a treat, just impressive high freq. detail. Some of the special effects opticals were cleaner than expected and startling in their clarity. Sure there was some grain and some shots looked "pushed," but if your monitor/projector is calibrated, this Blu-ray should look wonderful. The grain structure at times reminded me of CE3K - another Columbia release on Blu-ray released by Sony (coincidentally, photographed by another Hungarian cinematographer, Vilmos Zsigmond).

I just don't understand the controversy over visible grain...

#8 of 40 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted June 17 2009 - 12:59 AM

Great review, Rich!

It's too bad that Sony keeps dropping original theatrical trailers from its Blu-rays -- particularly when, as here, the trailer for Ghostbusters that is showing up on other Blu-rays isn't the original trailer but a new one created specially for GB in Blu. The 1999 disc had trailers for both GB films.

Also missing is the "Subtitled Production Notes". Maybe they thought that looked too low-tech in comparison to Slimer Mode. Posted Image
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#9 of 40 OFFLINE   Oliver_A

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Posted June 17 2009 - 02:59 AM

I just watched the Blu Ray, and I must say that I am REALLY pleased with the transfer. For someone who knows this film in- and out, there are lots of details to be discovered which were impossible to see on the SD editions. In my opinion, it looks totally authentic, free from all digital manipulations we have learned to hate.

One question: most of us (rightfully) like to critizise the hell out of a sub-standard transfer. Is there any way (besides buying the product) to do the opposite? To give those guys in charge the signal: "YES, you absolutely did this right, THIS IS THE WAY HOW WE LIKE OUR CLASSIC FILMS TO LOOK!"

#10 of 40 OFFLINE   BrettB

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Posted June 17 2009 - 03:06 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Reuben
a new one created specially for GB in Blu.

I saw this the other day on the Paul Blart disc and thought "damn that looks really soft". Is the video in this trailer representative of the Blu-ray release?

#11 of 40 OFFLINE   Zack Gibbs

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Posted June 17 2009 - 03:53 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrettB
I saw this the other day on the Paul Blart disc and thought "damn that looks really soft". Is the video in this trailer representative of the Blu-ray release?


Nope. I have the new game for the PS3 which has several bonus features of its own, one of them is this "trailer" and another is a blu-ray "preview," which features a truncated Sedgewick Hotel scene. Neither use what's on the actual blu thought. It's high-def but it's covered in dirt and too contrasty. It could be the '05 master but I don't think even that had this much dirt on it, so it's kind of odd.

Another feature it had though was the full unaltered commercial that plays on Dana's television. I thought that was very cool and don't know why it wasn't included with the movie.
"Because he's the hero that Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now... and so we'll hunt him... because he can take it... because he's not a hero... he's a silent guardian, a watchful protector... a DARK KNIGHT."

#12 of 40 OFFLINE   Todd Erwin

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Posted June 17 2009 - 08:33 AM

As an extra bonus for PS3 owners, this disc includes a Ghostbusters theme and wallpaper ready to install.

#13 of 40 OFFLINE   Bryan^H

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Posted June 17 2009 - 09:09 AM

The audio is something to behold. Very impressive, whether it's the dialog, soundtrack, or the FX. An amazing job. In my opinion, the audio is reference quality.

Looks fantastic too.

housekeeping 2.jpg

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#14 of 40 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted June 17 2009 - 01:25 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver_A
One question: most of us (rightfully) like to critizise the hell out of a sub-standard transfer. Is there any way (besides buying the product) to do the opposite? To give those guys in charge the signal: "YES, you absolutely did this right, THIS IS THE WAY HOW WE LIKE OUR CLASSIC FILMS TO LOOK!"

I rarely have any direct contact with anyone at Sony. I occasionally have e-mail exchanges with some of Sony's independent PR people.

However, I do know that Sony looks at the review thread on HTF, because they have contacted me a few times for permission to use my reviews on their Blu-ray site. So the odds are that someone is seeing the compliments. My impression is that Sony is committed to retaining the original look as much as possible with their BD releases. In fact, in the past couple of years the only Sony title for which I remember seeing comments about excessive DNR is "In the Line of Fire."
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#15 of 40 OFFLINE   Oliver_A

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Posted June 17 2009 - 08:47 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Gallagher
I rarely have any direct contact with anyone at Sony. I occasionally have e-mail exchanges with some of Sony's independent PR people.

However, I do know that Sony looks at the review thread on HTF, because they have contacted me a few times for permission to use my reviews on their Blu-ray site. So the odds are that someone is seeing the compliments. My impression is that Sony is committed to retaining the original look as much as possible with their BD releases. In fact, in the past couple of years the only Sony title for which I remember seeing comments about excessive DNR is "In the Line of Fire."

Thanks for your response. I surely hope they will get lots of positive feedback. It could easily have gone the other way: popular franchise, lots of fans, new video game, new film = WE HAVE TO GET RID OF THE ORIGINAL FILM LOOK. I am SO excited that they did posess the strength to present this film as original as possible, without digital filtering, without "fixing" anything that doesn't need to be "fixed".

I'd wish that every classic film would get the same treatment.

#16 of 40 OFFLINE   JayDerek

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Posted June 17 2009 - 11:26 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toddwrtr
As an extra bonus for PS3 owners, this disc includes a Ghostbusters theme and wallpaper ready to install.

where are these on the disc??
~Jason

#17 of 40 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted June 18 2009 - 01:53 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Gallagher
I rarely have any direct contact with anyone at Sony. I occasionally have e-mail exchanges with some of Sony's independent PR people.

However, I do know that Sony looks at the review thread on HTF, because they have contacted me a few times for permission to use my reviews on their Blu-ray site. So the odds are that someone is seeing the compliments. My impression is that Sony is committed to retaining the original look as much as possible with their BD releases.

Very cool, Richard. Posted Image

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#18 of 40 OFFLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted June 18 2009 - 10:39 AM

I just watched the movie and thought it looked wonderful. Then I tried the PIP mode. Why do they keep making this feature so that you have to go into the player setup/audio settings in order to hear the PIP? You don't have to do that with the Pixar discs.

You shouldn't have to fiddle with your player settings.
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#19 of 40 OFFLINE   James_Garner

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Posted June 18 2009 - 11:39 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toddwrtr
As an extra bonus for PS3 owners, this disc includes a Ghostbusters theme and wallpaper ready to install.
How do i install the theme & wallpaper on my ps3?

#20 of 40 OFFLINE   Zack Gibbs

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Posted June 18 2009 - 11:40 AM

Access the disc from the "game" menu in the XMB.
"Because he's the hero that Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now... and so we'll hunt him... because he can take it... because he's not a hero... he's a silent guardian, a watchful protector... a DARK KNIGHT."





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