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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters
Columbia/Tri-Star // PG // September 2, 2003
List Price: $14.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 4, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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Ghostbusters
Starring Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, etc.

A classic film that still entertains, "Ghostbusters" tells the story of 4 scientists who, after finding themselves out on the street, decide to open their own business catching ghosts. The script(by Dan Ackroyd/Harold Ramis) is still just as funny and witty today and the sort of dry comic timing between the characters I still found quite funny.

The film deals with the band searching for the reason why so many ghosts are finding their way into the city, but also adds in a few subplots, such as an Environmental Protection Agency agent going after the Ghostbusters because he believes they're violating state environmental laws as well as an additional romantic subplot between Bill Murray's ghostbuster and Sigorney Weaver's character.

Technically, the film also still stands up. The effects were incredible then and now, they can still be appreciated as great for their time. There's also something more entertaining about the not-quite-flawless nature of a lot of the film's physically done special effects that I find more entertaining than most of the seamless effects of a lot of today's films.

But overall, it's a movie that's still wonderfully funny, smart and sure to entertain on this new disc- Columbia/Tristar has done a fantastic job bringing this film to disc in a great Special Edition package.

THE DVD:
VIDEO QUALITY: Probably the best the film has ever looked on home video. Tristar has done a really fine job, producing an anamorphic widescreen transfer in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio that although isn't razor sharp, still, it does look pleasingly crisp and clear. Colors aren't vibrant, but I never remember this being a terribly colorful picture anyway so it's probably close to the intent of the original color palette. Black level is really strong, though; pure and solid. In terms of artifacts, I just noticed a few very, very slight ones in a couple of scenes, but absolutely nothing that is very distracting. The print itself has suprisingly few flaws, with only a couple of very tiny scratches here and there. It may not be a new film and the print(although new) still may not be quite flawless, but the funny thing is, I've seen new films that have had worse transfers than this. To make a long story short, I think that Columbia/Tristar has put a serious amount of work and care into the image quality here and I think people will be very pleased.

SOUND: Pretty decent. There are some surround use instances that are enjoyable, but they aren't used terribly often. What does sound very enjoyable is dialogue, which is clear and clean throughout. There isn't really much in the way of bass, but overall, I think this is a pretty good sound mix, and like the video's the best the film's ever looked at home, this is probably the best it's ever sounded at home.

MENUS: They're great, but they're a little "overdone", I think. The main menu is a giant cityscape that has different buildings where you can click over and select your choice, then go to the submenu from there. It's very cool, but it's a little confusing at first what is supposed to be "selectable", for use of a better word, but after that, it's easy to figure out. The scene selection is animated and a lot of the other submenus contain a lot of nifty animations.

EXTRAS: Columbia/Tristar has done a really phenomenal job absolutely packing this disc full of fascinating material and it's easily one of the biggest, most creatively produced special editions out there.

Commentary: A hilarious, informative and entertaining commentary by director Ivan Reitman, producer Joe Medjuk and writer/director Harold Ramis. The trio talk a lot about the improvisation that went into a lot of the lines that run throughout the film, as well as about the nature of the special effects- some of which were physically done, not optically. The most wonderful thing is a great group commentary and this is certainly one: the three work off of each other really well during the commentary, providing a few really funny moments. And there's another part of this commentary that was very entertaining(and whoever thought of this at Columbia/Tristar deserves a raise): the commentary can also be viewed in "video", which means that you can see the shadows of the people doing the commentary at the bottom of the screen as they point out things(literally). It's like the TV show "Mystery Science Theater 3000" and just as funny. The video commentary is really very easy to use, or turn on and off during the picture: it can be turned on or off during the picture by using the subtitle button. There are some very funny moments, especially from Harold Ramis, who talks about one scene where he is cut out of the picture on the video pan/scan edition. A commentary for a film like this is interesting because it's one of the films of the 80's that really was not only a fairly major production, but also used special effects very strongly, before the days where special effects became easier to produce. There's so many details of interest in the production of this film, such as how they produce the proton beam effects, that the commentators never simply talk about what's on screen-they fill the track with a non-stop, hilarious and entertaining couple of hours of talk about a great film.

Production Notes: As a suppliment to the already great commentary, you can access "Ghostbuster" expert Don Shay's production notes throughout the full length of the film. These provide yet another layer of information and can also be watched during the entire film using the subtitle button. You can have both the subtitles on the production notes and the audio on the commentary to get the complete information. These production notes provide a lot of information about the production and locations that aren't in the commentary, as well as notes about the special effects. If you've ever seen the little production notes areas that are on a lot of DVDs, imagine those running throughout the film as a subtitle track and you've got the idea of what this disc offers.

Trailers: The goofy original trailer is included in a full-frame version along with trailers for "Stripes", "Ghostbusters 2" and "Groundhog Day".

Deleted Scenes: There are 10 deleted scenes included that are in decent condition. These are nice to have, but for the most part, they were rightfully cut. Most of the scenes included are about a minute or so in length. A few of these scenes(such as a couple running into a "something strange" in their hotel room and a very strange scene of Murray talking to a bum in a park) are kinda funny to watch. Again, pretty cool to have, but nothing that will be a big suprise or shock.

Special FX Comparison NOW THIS IS COOL. Tristar deserves royal praise for coming up with this great idea and I was so pleased with it, I wish they had included more scenes. What this allows you to do is use the angle button on your remote to switch back and forth between the final film and the rough cut version on three big scenes. What you see in the rough cut is the very basic version before the effects were added and it's fascinating to see the difference between the rough before the effects were added and the final product. Again, very cool.

Photo Gallery: A jam-packed photo gallery, full of hours worth of pictures to look through and what's here is fascinating: hundreds of shots of model work being done, production pictures and effects work and it's simply fascinating. Where other discs that have had photo galleries simply show us pictures of the actors we just watched, this disc provides an incredible picture gallery of the work that went into the making of this movie.

Conceptual Drawings: If the photo gallery wasn't cool enough, this disc provides an entire other section filled with drawings of early concepts for locations, effects and more. Very cool, and easily navigated.

Storyboards: In another section, you can do a "split-screen" comparison of the storyboards versus the final scenes. Tristar has done a really fine job with the technical aspects of this section, making it easy to watch both and has also paced the appearance of the next board really well. There is also some zooming and panning so you can see the full storyboard as well while you're watching the scene below. In addition, there is a whole other storyboard gallery where you can see the basic storyboards(without actual scene comparison) for 12 more scenes. The basic storyboards include text that describes the scene.

Featurettes: There are three featurettes included: One that is the original featurette that was made during the year the film was made, one that is new interviews with the cast and one with the Special FX team. The original featurette runs about 9 minutes and is just a general featurette and it's a basic interview-type documentary. The new 1999 featurette is pretty much the same concept, with interviews with the cast and crew, but it's interesting to see the cast and crew then and now. The '99 featurette lasts for about 10 minutes or so. The FX team featurette is the most interesting of the three, with interviews with the team who did the effects for the film, talking about what it took to bring the kind of effects that were available at that time to the screen. I would have liked to have seen less of an interview style with this featurette and more with actual footage of these people at work, but there are quite a few interesting tidbits offered here, especially on how they built the ghost FX and a lot of the animation. The FX team featurette is my favorite of the three offered and it runs about 15 minutes.

DVD-ROM: Web links and additional features

Final Thoughts: Columbia/Tristar has done a fantastic job here. They have done a job that says that they not only take pride in their films and their DVD work, but that they want to offer their customers an absolutely packed disc of extras at a really great price. A few months ago, I thought the Armageddon special edition was really the great SE out there. Then the "Alien" special edition came out and that was the disc in my opinion. But Tristar has really topped both of those discs here with a disc that uses everything that DVD is capable of. This is great DVD work and it's simply a must own. Every studio should take a look at this disc to see how DVD should really be done. Very, very highly recommended. The audio/video quality is very good, considering the age of the film. I had a lot of fun reviewing this disc and I think that people will definitely not be dissapointed.

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