If you watch the included featurette, you’ll know something that a lot of other people never did. Patrick Swayze was never supposed to play the role of Sam Wheat. Interesting, eh? But as history has determined, Swayze did get the role and the chemistry between him and Demi Moore scored one of the biggest hits of 1990. I’ve long been a fan of Ghost, ever since the movie came out, but I’ve always had a problem with it’s underlying message. While the movie doesn’t really try and conquer whether or not there’s a “Heaven” or “Hell”, it does give the message that something goes on after we leave our physical bodies here on Earth. We see a few “ghosts” during the course of the movie, and some get sapped up by mystical lights while others are taken away by shadows that come to life. Good people and bad people, you can only assume. What sets Ghost apart from most other movies about the same subject is that Ghost is told from the point of view of the ghost (Swayze). Ghost was also directed by Jerry Zucker (yes, one of the infamous ‘ZAZ’ trio responsible for bringing us such classics as Airplane!, Top Secret and Ruthless Pepole). Could a Director known primarily for his comic movies turn around and direct a love story about a wrongfully killed man who spends the rest of the movie as a ghost? Evidently so. Ghost was nominated for Best Picture and took home more than $200 at the box office that year. In addition to all this, it also made Demi Moore a superstar in Hollywood (that is only now starting to fade) and gave Whoopi Goldberg an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and Writer Bruce Joel Rubin an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
Sam Wheat (Swayze) is a hot-shot banker on Wall Street. He’s moving up in the world of business, has a beautiful girlfriend, Molly (Demi Moore) and things couldn’t be going better. He’s moving in with Molly and with the help of their mutual friend Carl (Tony Goldwin), who works for Sam, they’re even remodeling their new loft apartment. Sam and Molly are mugged when coming out of a play, and had Sam not tried to play hero, he wouldn’t have ended up shot and killed. We see that Sam is “alive” in a ghost-state after he is killed, but see that his physical corpse is very much dead. This leaves Molly with the task of dealing with the sorrow of death and trying to put the pieces of her life back together. Sam manages to stay around as a ghost, not being seen or heard by anyone living, but occasionally seen by other ghosts around town. It’s by a random chance that he wonders into a psychic reader shop where Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg) and her two sisters have quite a nice racket running “contacting” the dead. Oda Mae discovers that she has “the gift” and can actually talk to the dead, but not see them. The two form a very unsteady bond as Oda Mae (with Sam’s help) tries to convince Molly that Sam is alive in the form of a ghost. What they also stumble upon is that Sam wasn’t mugged, but murdered. Their friend Carl, it seems, has been embezzling money from the bank where he works and the mugging was staged to get Sam’s access codes so the money could be transferred to the correct (rather incorrect) accounts. Upon finding out the news, Molly as well as Oda Mae are now in danger as Carl will stop at nothing to get the money. Because, you see, if Carl doesn’t follow through and transfer the money, he’s as dead as Sam.
Ghost was a very unique movie in the sense that it did tell the story from the point of the ghost. Most movies paint the portrait of the ghost to always be “bad” and rely on the haunting of the house as it’s character. Ghost is a modern day love story, but like I mentioned earlier, the entire premise left me feeling a bit eerie about the whole thing. Of course, I won’t say how Ghost ends, but supposing that the absolute best works out for Molly, what is she to do then? She’ll know that ghosts are always roaming around, oblivious to her senses and such…is she never to love again fearing that Sam will some how be watching over her? Who knows? For me, Ghost had the right amount of action, adventure, humor, drama and love to make it one of those movies that I’ll enjoy again and again. Apparently I’m not alone in my judgment of the movie, as it is now a worldwide phenomenon. All in all, Ghost has it all. If you’ve never seen it, I would recommend checking it out, and Paramount has added a few extras to entice you even more. A Director’s commentary (with Oscar winner Joel Rubin) is included as well as a retrospective featurette. It’s worth a look, at the very least.
Video: How does it look?
For comparison’s sake, I broke out my old copy of “Ghost” and did watched some key scenes between the two different versions. It appears that this new edition does indeed sport an improved transfer, then again it was noticeable only when I played the scenes one right after the other. Colors seem bumped up a bit and there was a little less edge enhancement, but again it’s something that I noticed only when watching the two right by one another â€“ otherwise it would be pretty hard to tell the difference between the two. This improved video effort is perhaps the only reason to upgrade to this new version, but even then I’m only giving it one more notch higher.
Audio: How does it sound?
The re-mastered Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the exact same as in the original DVD release. Ghost doesn’t really take many chances to get the full effect of Dolby Digital. For the most part, the action is limited to the front three channels, with dialogue being the most dominate and most “interesting”. In a few key scenes, such as when Sam leaps or walks through doors, the surrounds are used as they are when the “shadows” come to life to take the “bad people” wherever they go. Again, it’s not a bad mix, but I felt it could have been a bit better. Or better yet, just leave it in a surround mix and let the audience not worry about the sound.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Honestly, I really don’t see a need for a new version of this movie, the original DVD had a good commentary track (which is on this new disc as well), a retrospective featurette (which is NOT on this disc) and a trailer. The most notable feature is a full-length commentary with Director Jerry Zucker and Screenwriter Joel Rubin. The two like each other, and though they originally didn’t see eye to eye on the script, they combine for a nice commentary track. While oriented as more of a “writer’s” commentary as opposed to a technical one, it’s still a good feature to have for one of the more popular movies to come along in a while. The only additional supplements here are a few cheesy featurettes the highlight of which is the other great movie romances. This is a blatant double dipping by Paramount whose “Special Collector’s Edition’s” are either hit or miss. This one’s a miss.