The Ghostbusters franchise is seeing a resurgence for the first time since Ghostbusters 2 hit theater screens in 1989. Twenty years later Ecto-1 has been restored, Ghostbusters is finally playable as a next generation videogame, contracts are being signed for a third installment, and the Blu-ray release of the classic original has hit store shelves. In short, it’s a totally freaking awesome time to be a Ghostbusters fan!
I haven’t watched Ghostbusters in about six years, and I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I forced my fiancé to watch it for the first time — and it didn’t suck. Passage of time be damned, Ghostbusters still has impeccable comedic writing, mostly solid visual effects, classic performances, an intriguging plot, and a feel good ending that makes you hungry for more. Perhaps the only element that took me out of the story was the very dated 80s pop music soundtrack, but even those cheesy tunes have a special Ghostbusters charm. Storytelling is really the greatest strength of Ghostbusters. Three unconventional scientists obsessed with the paranormal take the plunge and go into business as paranormal investigators, eventually strapping nuclear accelerators onto their backs and fighting ghosts all over New York City. Add to this an iconic cast brimming over with comedic buddy chemistry, and you have the recipe for a perfect storm ghost-busting blockbuster.
The dialogue from Ghostbusters has become classic as well. Lines like:
“If someone asks if you’re a God, you say yes!”
“Let’s show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown.”
“Are you the Keymaster?”
“We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!”
“That’s a big Twinkie.”
And many, many more examples come to mind. Ghostbusters is a “love it” movie. No mentally stable person of sound judgment could hate this flick, and if they do, I have a proton pack I’m going to shoot at their face.
Since the average citizen of the world owns 3.2 copies of Ghostbusters across various formats already, the main concern is how the film looks and sounds on Blu-ray. Many fans have never had the chance to see the flick on the big screen, and will be seeing a whole new level of image detail for the first time. For the most part that’s a good thing. Props like proton packs, ghost traps, containment units, and Ecto 1 all look fantastic. Even the visual effects for the most part, including the proton streams, various ghosts, and Mr. Stay Puft all look great with the upgraded resolution. It’s just a couple rough effects, such as the hell hound running across the street from Dana’s apartment building with an obvious matte box surrounding it, that take a fan out of the experience for a minute.
The major issue with this release is the highly visible grain that is apparent throughout the presentation. Some scenes are worse than others, but for such a high profile release Ghostbusters is much grainier than, say, The Road Warrior on Blu-ray. This is not attributed to a poor transfer as much as lack of noise reduction. The transfer is actually very clean, with no noticeable instances of dirt or imperfections in the print, and the image stays consistently sharp. Overall the visual upgrade is very pleasing, just not up to the standards of high profile Blu-ray catalog releases such as Patton, The Shining, or The Road Warrior.
Just as the visual effects were not altered for this high def debut, the sound remains un-enhanced and has only been channel mixed for this release. Featuring a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack, this is the best the film has ever sounded. Front heavy and bit flat by today’s standards in the beginning, by the time the third act rolls around the sound becomes much more dynamic and involving. Critcisms aside, the sound of a proton pack firing up or the footsteps a 40-foot tall marshmello man are candy for the ears. 80s pop music is mostly not candy for the ears.
Arriving on a single 50GB disc with a cardboard slip cover, the blue packaging celebrates the Blu release, literally. I would have preferred the classic black one-sheet look, something for visitors of our Custom Cover section to consider. Inside I was pleased to find an insert-reverse image of the Ghostbusters in full busting gear from the film’s third act. The disc itself is decorated nicely with the image of the ghost from the movie logo. No one will be disappointed by the wealth of bonus features found on the disc, including “Slimer Mode” picture-in-picture and pop-up trivia track, a fascinating and detailed documentary about the restoration of the Ecto 1 car, making of the Ghostbusters videogame, plus all of the bonus features found on the previous DVD release, including deleted scenes, a cast and crew commentary, SFX featurettes and more. Fans and non-fans alike will walk away from this set knowing more about Ghostbusters than they ever have before.
If you’ve read the rest of my review this is an obvious one. When I was a wee youngster I worshiped the very ground the Ghostbusters walked on. I had the plastic proton pack with the foam stream coming out the nozzle, I even used a dish-soap bottle to spray streams of water pretending I was busting ghosts (give me a break, I was only 15!) Nostalgia aside, I believe that the reason my generation loved Ghostbusters so much was because it was a collaboration of love, a product of quality, and displayed some of the finest comedic writing and special effects of its time. Bias be damned, it’s a great movie!
Verdiect: 4/5 – “BUY”