Sony // 1984 // 107 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Chief Justice Sean McGinnis (Retired) // June 29th, 1999
I'm ready to believe Columbia. Anything they say to me right now, I would take hook line and sinker. Negotiated the rights to the Star Wars Trilogy for DVD away from Lucas and Fox for $5? Congratulations! Bring 'em on! This is by far the best and most creative DVD I have ever seen. Maybe not necessarily on a firm scale, but taking into account the age of the film, this one is at the top.
Now this was worth waiting for. Forget the Stanley Kubrick Collection, this is the disc we all should have been talking about for the past 60 days. It's that good.
Everyone knows the story. Three whacked out parapsychology professors develop a method for catching and holding ghosts. After getting kicked off campus and losing their jobs, they take to good old-fashioned commercialism to try to make ends meet. After watching them struggle for a while, we get to see their business begin to boom, only to have a pointy headed bureaucrat from the EPA come in and screw everything up. Pretty much the life of every single American entrepreneur.
The acting here is top notch as well. With an all star comedic cast, how can it not be. Harold Ramis, who also co-wrote the script with Dan Aykroyd, plays a great straight man. Bill Murray is at his comedic best here. His only roles that were arguably better were in Caddyshack and Groundhog Day. Sigourney Weaver holds her own with these folks, as does Annie Potts. But the stars of the show are Aykroyd and Rick Moranis. Moranis has never been funnier. And Aykroyd gets absolutely everything right. Even down to the mannerisms and walk of his character. He absolutely, in my mind, steals the show.
The video on this disc is outstanding. Typical of Columbia, this disc sports a fresh digital hi-def anamorphic transfer. I can't wait for HDTV to take off and for all these other non-believer studios to have to re-master their releases yet again because their DVDs will look so shitty on a HD widescreen display. The colors here are outstanding for such an old movie. While they are not as rich and deep as, say a Blade, they more than hold their own against other 1980s vintage flicks. I noticed none of the problems inherent in so many inferior discs. The edges were clean and crisp with strong black level. There was no shimmering or ringing of any kind that I could notice. This is as good or better than most Columbia transfers even. The folks over there really outdid themselves.
The audio is a re-mixed 5.1 in English only. Contrary to popular opinion, I don't mind when studios release their product in English only. Yes, it would be very nice to accommodate all languages here in the states, but what's the likelihood of that? I guess it shouldn't be that much trouble to include a Spanish language track for our English-as-a-second-language constituents. But, again, it really doesn't bother me that much. Your subwoofer will get a nice little workout from this disc. Again, not as much as a newer film, but this was a typical use of bass for a 1984 film. There are plenty of explosions to keep that little (or big as the case may be) sucker bouncing all over the living room. Directional effects are here too, but again, typical of a remix from this time, used rather sparingly. Don't worry about that. The dialogue is well placed and clearly delineated. A very nice presentation overall.
As good as everything else on this disc is, the star of the show is clearly the extras. This disc includes the original featurette from 1981 (10 minutes) as well as a new 1999 featurette (also 10 minutes). There are also ten deleted scenes for you to go through. Under the special effects submenu are the following: a special effects featurette (15 minutes), 3 special effects before and after scenes (use angles button to toggle between the before and after special effects editing), about 284 production photos (special effects related), and approximately 230 conceptual drawings (sketches laying out concepts in a very broad manner -- many of which never found their way into the film). Also on the disc are over 350 storyboards broken out over 12 major segments as well as 3 split screen scenes which detail the actual scene versus the storyboard version developed prior to shooting. And yes, I counted the storyboards, production photos and conceptual drawings. I may have counted wrong, but I counted.
Also included are the theatrical trailers to Stripes, Groundhog Day and Ghostbusters II (under grab bag icon) as well as the original theatrical trailer for Ghostbusters. The menus are fully animated, including full scene versions of chapter selection menu. Under the tricks and trivia icon lie the entire feature with subtitled production notes. This is one very cool feature. Then there's the famous commentary. There are two very important items to mention about the commentary, which involves Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman and co-producer Joe Medjuck. First, it can be played with the Mystery Science Theater 3000-like silhouettes either on or off. Second, the commentary can also be played with the subtitled production notes. How cool is that? You can be reading one set of comments and reading another all at the same time. You can even enter a sweepstakes either by mail or on-line -- where Columbia is giving away cool Ghostbusters stuff.
I really have nothing bad to say about this disc. No, it may not be as good a transfer as Blade, or Lost in Space, or even Starship Troopers. But the damn thing is 15 years old! What do you expect? And the creative team at Columbia more than make up for any weakness in the transfer. This is how special editions are supposed to be. Columbia has broken new ground here with their creative thinking and originality, and I thank God they have.
Run, do not walk to your nearest retailer and snag a copy or two of this disc. Maybe an extras just in case you scratch the first one.
Acquitted completely. Another DVD Verdict Medal of Honor winner for sure.
Review content copyright © 1999 Sean McGinnis; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* "Live" Commentary Track
* Storyboard, Split-Screen Compare
* DVD-ROM and Web Links
* Production Photos, Conceptual Drawings, and Stills
* Deleted Scenes
* 1999 Star Featurette
* SFX Team Documentary
* Special Effects Before & After (Multi Angles)
* 1984 Making-Of Featurette
* Original Trailers
* Production Notes
* Subtitled Production Notes