Edition: 25th Anniversary Blu-ray
Director: Ivan Reitman
Writers: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis
Producers: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Columbia Pictures
Blu-ray Features Rating:
Review by: Bill Jones
Ghostbusters was the epitome of the action-comedy (and horror) of its time, and holds up against the best in modern cinema. Its dialogue makes subtle riffs on the ridiculous situations in the film, and the performances of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis in their prime make it one of the classics of a generation.
Peter Vankman (Murray), Raymond Stantz (Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Ramis) are scientists. Well, Spengler is a scientist. Stantz is obsessed with the supernatural, and Vankman is a bit of a scam artist, a business-savvy, quick-tongued clown looking to capitalize on the gullibility of others and the moment, but with a heart. It is he who suggests a “Ghostbusters” business when the trio is kicked out of a university where they “worked.”
The trio rents an old firehouse in New York City, converts a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance into Ecto-1 and straps “unlicensed nuclear accelerators” to their backs. They begin to purge the city of apparitions, which have started to appear after strange happenings at a high-rise inhabited by Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) and Louis Tulley (Rick Moranis). Little do Barrett and Tulley know, but they are set to become the “gatekeeper” and “key master,” and unleash the unholy power of Gozer upon the world.
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria!
The humor holds up today primarily due to both a great script co-written by Aykroyd and Ramis, and the incredible improvisation talents of Murray and company. This is not a film that finds its humor in overwritten, forced dialogue. Instead it comes partly from the sight gags – the destructive, skyscraper-trumping Stay Puft Marshmallow Man – while the rest comes from great lines delivered with perfect deadpan timing.
Stantz: Everything was fine with our system until the power grid was shut off by dickless here.
Walter Peck: They caused an explosion.
Mayor: Is this true?
Venkman: Yes, it’s true…This man has no dick.
Ghostbusters is at its core a “going into business” story, as its creators have dubbed it, only the business is ridiculous and the action connected to it is absurd. And yet its characters are smart alecks who play things as if they are living in a totally believable world, made believable by the big action in what was then a stunning $30 million comedy budget. Smartly, director Ivan Reitman uses those effects to complement, not overshadow the story, working it all into great visual comedy. And in the simplicity of the formula Ghostbusters finds great success. Twenty-five years later, Ghostbusters has lost none of its edge.
Blu-ray Transfer and Extras
It is a bummer, though understandable, that Blu-ray cannot erase some of the visual imperfections. Some of those visual imperfections even add to the charm. It’s a bit disappointing, however, that the transfer actually enhances some of these flaws. While the colors are impressive in high-definition, especially when we see the Marshmallow Man barreling down the New York City-scape, there is still a hefty amount of grain left behind from the film. The proton packs don’t look quite as awesome as they should. And the early special effects, such as a stop-motion Terror Dog, look about as cheesy as they did at the time, if not more so because the audiences can distinctly see how it was added to the video mix. “But Hey! These are 25-year-old special effects,” might be a common response. True, but one looking to upgrade may be disappointed to find the Blu-ray actually highlights a few more problems than previous formats.
The HD audio is crisp and clear, making sure the dialogue sticks out above the noise of the action, which is incredibly important for a movie like Ghostbusters that relies so heavily on the comedic delivery of dialogue. The mix lacks a bit in terms of surround sound, but it is passable.
The real highlight to the Blu-ray is the additional features. Many Blu-ray releases simply upgrade the DVD features to hi-def. Ghostbusters’ original features – commentary (with Reitman and Ramis), deleted scenes, 1984 “Making-Of” featurette, “Cast and Crew” featurette, SFX documentary, SFX “Before and After,” and storyboard comparisons –actually remain in standard definition.
The compromise is a slew of new features. In addition to Blu-ray’s cinechat and BD Live support, the exclusives are highlighted by “Slimer” mode. Picture-in-picture interviews with key actors and crew appear during the film, as well as pop-up trivia. “Ecto-1: Resurrecting the Classic Car” provides a look at the restoration of Ghostbusters key vehicle. Finally, there is a preview and “Making Of” featurette for Ghostbusters: The Video Game. The preview is nothing special, but the featurette provides an interesting look at how the game came about.
So while there is some disappointment in the video quality of Ghostbusters on Blu-ray, it’s not enough to the kill the deal on a film where so much importance is placed on dialogue. It is disappointing no less because Blu-ray is so focused on visual quality for videophiles. Still, the new features are enough to satisfy both those videophiles and Ghostbusters fans alike.
For more info, www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/ghostbusters