Doctors Venkman, Stantz and Spengler have just made a major discovery in the world of the supernatural, only to be downsized out of their University’s campus. Hopeful to make use of their years of research they fund and open a business venture, named the Ghostbusters, who will gladly exterminate all of your paranormal pests. Business picks up beyond their wildest hopes, but the question they’re asking is why – is something building up to a climax? Sure is! This film mixes the comedic and horror genres into a fast-paced PG-rated movie that is both entertaining and visually exciting. Bill Murry, Dan Ackroyd, Rick Moranis and Sigourney Weaver lead the star-studded cast.
Columbia/Tristar have digitally remastered the video into 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, a big improvement over the incorrectly framed VHS and LD releases. The overall transfer quality is quite good for a film of this age, with excellent color saturation and general sharpness. Grain and chroma noise is very minimal with no compression artifacts or other visual imperfections. Black levels are altogether good though not completely perfect as certain scenes tended to be a tad dark. Absolutely no dirt specs, lint or scratches can be seen. This is the first transfer that director Ivan Reitman has fully approved of – previous versions have been embarrassingly bright to the point of prominently exhibiting matte lines. The disc is dual-layered with 7.4gb and contains 28 chapter stops, with the layer change occurring at 2:30 into chapter 15, or 48:34 into the film.
The soundtrack has been re-mixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 and is much better than any other version. The rear channels are utilized a fair amount, but don’t expect Godzilla-like applications. I could not detect a prominent stereo separation, but overall the effect is pleasant. Most other audible aspects are good as well: a fair amount of bass is evident, while the numerous musical sections are exceptionally crisp. I found the dialogue overly soft in comparison to the music, yet surprisingly some noticeable clipping could be heard; likely introduced on the original recording.
This is Columbia’s most feature-packed disc to date and turns out to be more than worthy of the "Collector’s Series" label. First, the fully animated menus take you from section to section. Though many feature listings have been duplicated on multiple menus, this disc is easier to navigate than I would have expected. Quite a few innovative features have been included: the first and most widely advertised is a "Live" video commentary with director Ivan Reitman, writer/actor Harold Ramis and producer Joe Medjuck. This pairs the now widely accepted audio commentary track with small silhouettes at the bottom of the screen. With these, the three commentators can point, gesture and otherwise move around highlighting sections of the movie. This is produced using the subtitles function of your player and cannot be used if it is configured for 16:9 mode. Also available without the video addition, this track is lively and succeeds in adding appreciation for the finished effort with entertaining information.
One of only a few films to make use of the DVD Angle feature, Ghostbusters includes three scenes with both before and after filming segments. Using your Angle button, you can switch between the original unmodified film and the completed special effects extravaganza. Also intriguing is the technique used for storyboards, which are drawings used during filming to assist in camera angles and to obtain the desired effect. Three scenes have been captured with the original storyboards on top and the finished video below. You can access additional static storyboards from the menu screens.
The production notes have been livened up by integration into the finished film under a "Tricks & Trivia" menu listing. Available as a separate subtitle, these notes follow the screen action and provide informative tidbits for everything that happens as it is happening. While some information is duplicated in the commentary track, many additional facts have been included. A "Scene Cemetery" links to 10 deleted scenes which, although of poor visual quality, are interesting to watch.
Quite a few video featurettes have been packed onto this disc. First, is the original promotional production featurette running at just over 9 minutes. Further, a brand new 1999 star featurette at 10 minutes has been specially produced for this 15th anniversary release with reminiscent anecdotes of those involved in production. The Special Effects menu includes a 15 minute featurette on the team and how certain effects were accomplished. All feature fullscreen video and stereo sound.
Numerous production photos have been sorted into 10 categories, while lots of concep drawings are included. The original trailer, though particularly fuzzy, has been reproduced in fullscreen and 2.0 audio, while three additional trailers have been included for Ghostbusters 2, Groundhog Day and Stripes. DVD-ROM content includes web links, an interactive screenplay that allows you to access text and video on a scene-by-scene basis, plus detailed cast and crew filmographies.
This disc features an excellent movie transfer and valuable features that push the envelope of DVD technology – all at Columbia’s regular price point of $30 USD. It comes highly recommended.
- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on July 5, 1999.
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
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