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Ghostbusters: Collector's Series

review by Ren C.

 

 

Rated PG

Studio: Columbia/Tri-Star

Running Time: 107 Minutes

Starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver

Written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis

Directed by Ivan Reitman

Retail Price: $27.95 (also available as part of a two-pack with Ghostbusters II)

Features: Video Commentary, Storyboards, Production Photos, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, Production Notes, Trailers

Specs: 2.35:1 Widescreen Anamorphic, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, English Subtitles

"Ghostbusters" is without question one of the most long-lasting and recognized movies of the '80s, with good reason. Even today almost twenty years after its original release, the movie stands up as funny and doesn't seem nearly as dated as it could be. The movie begins with Doctor Peter Venkman (Bill Murray, in arguably his best role) performing "experiments" at Columbia University. The validity of these experiments is questionable to say the least, so Venkman is soon thrown out of the university, along with his colleagues, Drs. Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Spengler (Harold Ramis). With no job, and nowhere to go, the group decides to pursue an idea that they have had for quite some time, to try and combat the growing number of paranormal sightings in New York city.

Investing their last few dollars, the Ghostbusters organization is born. They take out a TV ad, which in turn brings them to the attention of Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), who is having the slightly out of the ordinary problem of having ghosts inhabiting her apartment. The Ghostbusters decide to take the case, and realize that they are just scratching the tip of the iceberg in terms of the paranormal activity. New York is in very real danger of being overrun by ghosts, and the Ghostbusters are the only thing that can stop it.

More a comedy than a sci-fi or horror movie, "Ghostbusters" stands up as a very funny movie, especially with the talents of Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis. In fact, the movie was recently voted number twenty-eight on the list of the hundred funniest movies of all time, according to the American Film Institute. That is a very elite position to hold, and "Ghostbusters" definitely deserves the ranking. Sigourney Weaver is also a pleasant surprise in the movie, more than holding her own next to the comic heavyweights. It is a great movie that stands up to many repeat viewings, and holds something new and enjoyable with every visit.

The movie has been remastered for this DVD release, and it definitely looks it. Comparing this to the original 1984 release is like night and day. Especially impressive are the effects, which have been touched up to look more realistic than the technology which was available when the movie was first released. The movie shows very little grain, and surprisingly little wear for a movie with the relative age that "Ghostbusters" has. Overall, a very attractive and appealing transfer.

The audio on "Ghostbusters" is also very impressive, with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. While there are only a few effects-laden sequences, the overall movie comes across very well, with the dialogue and effects sounding very crisp and clear with no distortion, and sounds like it was just made, as opposed to sixteen years ago.

This is a Collector's Series disc, and the features are where the disc really shines. First of all, there are the fantastic menus, which depict a New York city street, with all of the appropriate landmarks from the movie. First up is the first ever video commentary track with Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman, and Joe Medjuck, the associate producer for the movie. The commentary track is very engaging, with Ramis, Reitman, and Medjuck being very informative and entertaining at the same time. The video works much like "Mystery Science Theater 3000" with the three men being silhouetted over the movie and occasionally pointing things out. A novel idea, but not exactly revolutionary in execution.

Next is the "Tricks & Trivia" feature, which has the original production notes being flashed on-screen simultaneously with the movie through the use of the subtitle track. This was even more informative than the commentary, with the only drawback being that there were long stretches where there was nothing on-screen. Aside from that a very interesting and informative track.

The "Scene Cemetery" features ten fairly brief scenes that were deleted from the final version of the film. The majority of the scenes are extensions of scenes that were in the movie, while a few are original. The quality of the scenes are fairly consistent with a few-decades old print-grainy but watchable. The scenes are all fairly entertaining, although nothing was really lost by not including them in the movie.

The original featurette, most likely used for promotion of the movie in 1984 is very entertaining, mainly for its nostalgia value. It is more promotional than informational, but there is a counterbalance to that included in the newly-made featurette created specifically for the disc. This featurette takes an almost wistful look back at the making of the movie, how it was conceived, and its success.

There is a special effects featurette included, detailing how the advanced effects were created with the fairly limited technology that was available. The featurette isn't as interesting as it could be, mainly because it is primarily a roundtable discussion with the special effects supervisors as opposed to showing how the effects were made. There is also an SFX before and after featurette, which shows just how much work the actors had to do in terms of compensating for special effects that had to be dubbed in later. The before is also very interesting in that it showed how much work had to be done in order to get the effects in place. There is an extensive gallery of production photos showing the construction of the major effects sequences. There is also an extensive set of conceptual drawings, elaborating further on the effects sequences, and some early logo concepts which were better left unused. In addition, there are storyboards for some of the shots in the movie, including at least one that was dropped from the final version.

Wrapping up the extensive features for the movie are the original "Ghostbusters" trailer, along with trailers from "Ghostbusters II", "Groundhog Day" and "Stripes".

 

This is a must-buy disc. The movie is a modern classic with a great transfer, and the features are enough to keep anyone occupied for days. I have no reservations about giving this movie my highest possible recommendation.

(4.5/5, NOT included in final score)

(4/5)

(4/5)

(4.5/5)

(5/5, NOT an average)

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