Who you gonna call?
Plot: What’s it about?
I’m willing to bet that if you took a survey and asked people to name 5 movies from the 80’s that this movie would be in there. Granted I’m sure films like Raiders of the Lost Arc (oh, sorry, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc), Back to the Future and E.T. would be in there as well. However there’s no denying that Ghostbusters epitomized the Reagan-era and, three decades later, still stands as one of our favorite movies. Watching the movie again, it’s really stood the test of time. I found myself chuckling at a few of the jokes, being entertained by the special effects and ogling Sigourney Weaver in every scene she’s in. Suffice it to say that the film is a landmark for several reasons, but it might just be one of the more enjoyable films in the last several decades. Sony, of course, is using this year to commemorate its anniversary and we’re now treated to the third (yes, really) version of the movie on Blu-ray. We’ll cover the features and the like further on down, but suffice it to say that this is the version to get.
If you’re one of the few that’s not seen the film, well the plot couldn’t be simpler. Three scientists start to notice some abnormal amounts of “ghost-like” energy and, after losing their jobs, decide to open up a business to get rid of ghosts. The problem is that no one believes the ghosts to be real. That is, until, they start getting a few calls and then business starts to boom. In somewhat of a sub plot, Dana (Sigourney Weaver) is located in an apartment building that happens to be the center of all the extra-ordinary energy in New York. Working together to save her, Drs. Venkman (Bill Murray), Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Spengler (Harold Ramis) are in the midst of putting the pieces together for what could spell the end of the world. Will they be able to defeat the ghosts? Will the New York Mayor’s office lock them up and throw away the key or will these ghosts finally be “busted?”
Ghostbusters is one of those movies that literally defines its own genre. Undoubtedly one of the most popular movies of the 1980’s, it did inspire a sequel some five years later. But let’s face it, there’s nothing like the original. Ghostbusters seems to be as popular as ever and I find it hard to believe that it’s been a quarter of a century since I first saw it in the theater. Like most movies of the era, it does seem a bit dated with the hairstyles and production values. We’ve come a long, long way in terms of movie special effects so for those expecting to be impressed, you won’t be. Still though, the movie remains somewhat of a landmark to the sci-fi genre and as we all know, I’m sure Hollywood has plans for a remake. For those that have never seen it, there’s no time like the present.
Video: How’s it look?
As mentioned above, this is now the third installment of this famed film on Blu-ray. Yes, the third installment. And each one is different. The first one had a standard transfer with some of the supplements from the DVD. It was a nice entry into the Blu-ray market and it’s undoubtedly on shelves around the world. Sony, being the cutting-edge company they are, then came out with a line of “Mastered in 4K” films that’s a bit misleading. These weren’t and aren’t Ultra HD films, just previously-released films that benefitted from a new 4K transfer. Other studios do this as well, they just don’t plaster it all over their marketing materials. However that release (covered here) was void of features. With this 30th Anniversary edition, we get the best of both worlds as we’ve got the same transfer found on the 4K Blu-ray, but with the supplements found on the previous Blu-ray (plus more). Enough about that, though – how’s it look?
Presented in a 2.40:1 AVC HD image, this new transfer certainly looks a few steps above the first Blu-ray. I’d not seen the Mastered in 4K one from a couple years ago, but for a film that’s three decades old, I have to say that I was impressed. Dirt and debris has been cleaned up from the print and though a few of the exterior shots have a bit of remnants, the overall look and feel of the film is not suiting of its age. Detail has been improved as well, several of the scenes look noticeably better – check out the streams when the ghostbusters are at work. Impressive. Contrast and black levels are rich and solid as well. All things considered, it’s the best I’ve seen the film look and I’ve seen it on VHS, Criterion Laser Disc, DVD and Blu-ray. This is a nice effort.
Audio: How’s it sound?
To compliment the video, we’re also treated to a very robust DTS HD Master Audio track. Having seen (heard) the film in several different formats over the years, I was noticeably impressed by the sonics here. Vocals sound rich and deep, surrounds are constantly active and the LFE even have a few moments to shine. Take the scene in which the nuclear accelerator is first turned on – you feel like you’re in the elevator with them. Of course the title song sounds great and for a film that’s thirty years old, I have to say that this is another great effort. Top notch.
Supplements: What are the extras?
As I’d said, this is now the third version of this film in Blu-ray and it seems they’ve finally done it right. With so many studios putting out “Annniversary Editions” with no features (Fox), it’s a refreshing change of pace to see a studio that actually cares about it’s titles and adds new features. That being said, let’s get started.
Original Special Features
- Slimer Mode – A picture-in-picture trivia track that’s neat, but subsequent viewings really won’t merit it.
- Audio Commentary – Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis and Joe Medjuck team up for a pretty good track. This is the same commentary from the 15th anniversary DVD release, but it’s still a good listen from an actor/director point of view.
- Ecto-1: Resurrecting the Classic Car – The classic car/ambulance from the film is brought back to its former glory for the promotion of the video game. It cleans up nicely.
- Ghostbusters Garage: Ecto-1 Gallery – Essentially a photo gallery that showed the process to get the above result.
- Deleted Scenes – Ten in all.
- 1984 Featurette: On the Scene with Ghostbusters – Vintage in every way, this has some cast and crew interviews as well as some behind the scenes footage. This is about as authentic as it gets as the advent of DVD was still a dozen years away when this was made.
- Cast and Crew Featurette – Originally made for the 1999 DVD release, this has some of the cast reflecting on the success of the film.
- SFX Team Featurette – The F/X team members discuss some of the “cutting edge” effects used for the film.
- Multi-Angles – I’m still amazed at how the whole “multi angle” thing really never caught on with DVD, but we get a selection of three scenes from the film that can be viewed with some rough footage and then the final product.
- Storyboard Comparisons
All-New Special Features
- Who You Gonna Call: A Ghostbusters Retrospective Roundtable with Director Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd – Running nearl 25 minutes, this is the biggest “new” feature for this version as Aykroyd and Reitman reminisce about the film, its impact and ongoing legacy. It’s nice to hear them speak so fondly of this loved title.
- Music Video – “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr.
- Poster Gallery
- Alternate Takes – Six in all, all for the sake of airing the film on television.
- Theatrical Trailer