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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

'Ghostbusters' BD: The Boys With Slime on Their Hands Are Back and Better Then Ever

Product Details
The recent Sony Blu-ray releases of separate single-disc editions of  the classic supernatural comedies "Ghostbusters" and "Ghostbusters II," a set with both movies, and the fantastic looking deluxe limited edition set of both movies and a gaggle of drool-worthy add-ons reminds those of us who first saw the original and the sequel in the 1980s of the uber-awesomeness of the films. These releases further offer the bonus of creating a new generation of fans.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for the "Ghostbusters" Blu-ray release nicely shows the humor and horror in the film. It also provides a sense of the enhancements.

Another cool thing regarding these releases is that they continue the home video evolution of this franchise. An Unreal TV post on a documentary about collectors of VHS tapes discusses "Ghostbusters" being the first videotape that your (often humble) reviewer rented roughly one year after the theatrical release of the film, the home video library of said reviewer includes the DVD sets of I and II, and it is anticipated that the next several big things in home video will include versions of the films.

This review of "Ghostbusters" and an upcoming review of "Ghostbusters II" are based on the  single-disc Blu-ray sets of these films. 

The latest incarnation of these releases easily join the deluxe complete series DVD set of the animated series "The Real Ghostbusters" on my desert island list. The wonderfully cynical take of "Real" on the classic "Christmas Carol" story alone justifies buying the "Real" series.

As an aside, the official online information regarding the "Ghostbusters" Blu-ray releases does not seem to support the pre-release statements of fans that the spectacular special features (which are discussed more below) include episodes of the animated series.

The premise of I is that disgraced paranormal researchers Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray in his BEST EVER Role), Dr. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Dr. Egon Spengler ("Ghostbusters" co-writer Harold Ramis) open a supernatural pest extermination service during a period that a big bad from another existence is executing a plan that involves an army of ghostly and demonic minions spreading mayhem.

Our boys in gray literally and figuratively find themselves at the epicenter of this activity and must find a way to end the madness.

The terrific supporting cast includes Sigourney Weaver of the "Alien" franchise as a sophisticated love interest for impish slacker Venkman, "SCTV" vet Rick Moranis as the nerdy accountant who is in love with Waever's Dana, and Annie Potts of "Designing Women" as tough-talking and jaded Ghostbusters receptionist Janine.

On a lesser note, cameos by a dark haired Larry King and recently deceased legendary voice-over actor/radio personality Casey Kasem are great fun. The memory of Kasem also provokes recognizing his widow Jean in a fun cameo.

One of the best things that can be said about "Ghostbusters" is that it demands your attention. The action and dialog are so good that you will find that you must stop playing games and surfing the web on your iPad and texting on your cell phone to pay attention to the movie. You will also find yourself shaking out a daze at the end of the movie and both being surprised that it is over and wanting more.

Similarly, this film is a perfect example of the escapist fun that Unreal TV is designed to promote. Getting lost in the movie allows forgetting the intense aggravation in your life for at least the nearly two hours that "Ghostbusters" runs. A prime example of this is the fall on the floor funny scene comes in which Venkman delights in torturing a research subject.

Additionally, watching "Ghostbusters" again will evoke buried memories of the numerous great lines that extend well beyond "who you gonna call" from the very catchy theme song and the warning to "not cross streams." The only spoiler that will be provided regarding this is the classic utterance "Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say "YES.""

The spectacular news regarding the remastering for the Blu-ray edition is that the enhanced sound adds tremendous value to the film. The memorable siren on the iconic ambulance in the film never sounded better, the creepy music during suspenseful scenes generates actual chills, and the previously unheard background sounds add a great deal to scenes.

The less great (but perfectly understandable) news is that the incredibly enhanced color does not quite live up to the "4K" hype. The color and images are greatly enhanced (and this 30 year-old film is not a hi-def or digital one), but the picture is roughly 85 percent as sharp as anticipated; having said that, it easily is 50 percent sharper than the DVD release.

It further seems that the Blu-ray editions include all the special features that the DVD versions offer. Added extras include a roundtable discussion with Aykroyd and director/producer Ivan Reitman and new alternative takes from the film.

All of this boils down to "Ghostbusters" simply being one of the most modern examples of "they don't make them like that anymore." The elements simply aligned correctly to make a film that will be relevant and not horribly dated another 30 years from now.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Ghostbusters" is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.