Action Blu-ray Review

'Ghostbusters' Blu-ray Review: Who ya gonna troll?

October 11, 2016Ben MK

Like The Force Awakens, Ghostbusters is a film fueled by nostalgia. And like Peter Venkman brandishing a proton gun, it's something director/co-writer Paul Feig and writer Kate Dippold wield to great effect. You might even say that the film suffers from nostalgia overload, because whether it's the numerous callbacks to director Ivan Reitman's 1984 film, the cameo appearances by the members of its cast, or the way the new movie's narrative mirrors that of the original, Feig and company appear to have an endless supply of the stuff hidden up their sleeves.

Speaking of Ghostbusters' narrative, the film's plot has the feel of an alternate-universe retelling of the original, substituting Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones for Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson. This time, however, it's not a demigod named Zuul who seeks to unleash a paranormal apocalypse upon the Big Apple, but a creepy hotel caretaker (Neil Casey), who would like nothing better than to open a supernatural vortex in the heart of the city, so that he can usher forth "the fourth cataclysm."

Otherwise, the movie hits all of the original's story beats, from the cold open that leads into our heroes' first spooky encounter, to their ousting from academia, to their quest to legitimize their scientific work, all culminating in a battle to save the city from ghouls, demonic Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloons, and an oversized personification of their own famous logo. There are even a few fun, little twists along the way, the best of which is Chris Hemsworth's turn as the girls' lovable doofus of an assistant, who's more Louis Tully than Janine Melnitz.

Long story short, there's a lot to love about the new Ghostbusters. But what proves to be even more of a crowd-pleaser than the way it pays homage to the original is the chemistry between its four lead actresses. From McCarthy and Wiig, whose characters' relationship serves as the film's emotional grounding, to McKinnon as the team's resident, scene-stealing weirdo, to Jones as a sassy, no-nonsense non-scientist, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more talented group of comedic performers. It's just a bonus that they all happen to be women.

Ghostbusters' Blu-ray transfer is an interesting one, as it utilizes techniques that grant this 2D image a more three-dimensional look. Visual effects such as ghosts and proton streams (and occasionally people and other objects) regularly appear outside of the image's 2.39:1 framing, making it appear as if they're popping out of the screen. But while the effect is neat at first, the novelty quickly wears off. Otherwise, the 1080p picture may be razor-sharp and crystal-clear, but it isn't perfect, as color saturation and contrast levels appear to have been artificially boosted, making the film's already bountiful color palette all the more vibrant, while robbing the image of some intrinsic fine detail in the process. As for the audio, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix does an excellent job conveying the movie's comedically chaotic tone, whether it's the reprise of the classic Ghostbusters theme music or the sound of screams and ghostly voices, blasts from the team's proton weapons, or the ambience of a rock concert.

Sony's single-disc Blu-ray release (which debuts alongside a separate, three-disc release that also bundles 3D and 4K UHD versions of the movie) includes two versions of the film (a Theatrical and an Extended Version), an UltraViolet digital copy and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Writer & Director Commentary - Available on both the Theatrical and Extended Versions, Director/Co-Writer Paul Feig and Writer Katie Dippold talk about the filming locales and sets, shooting various scenes, the cast and their performances, the stunt work, the visual effects, the pacing, the costume design, and more.
  • Filmmaker Commentary - Available on both the Theatrical and Extended Versions, Director/Co-Writer Paul Feig, Editor Brent White, Executive Producer Jessie Henderson, Production Designer Jefferson Sage, Visual Effects Supervisor Pete Travers and Special Effects Supervisor Mark Hawker discuss the technical aspects of the movie, from the marrying of visual and practical effects, to the editing, to the different types of slime used in the film, and more.
  • Gag Reels (15:29) - Two gag reels ("Gag Reel Round 1" and "Gag Reel Round 2").
  • Deleted Scenes (9:22) - Four scenes ("Past Lives," "The Big Test," "The Breakup" and "Where Are You?").
  • Extended & Alternate Scenes (21:14) - Eleven scenes ("Erin Walks to Class," "Phil & Phyllis," "The Duke," "The Dean," "Bennie & Erin," "Protect the Barrier," "The Beasts of Mayhem," "Casper," "Visine," "Where's the Walkie" and "Rebecca Gorin").
  • Jokes a Plenty (34:30) - The cast ad lib jokes ("Free For All," "Holtzmann Gone Wild," "The Patty Show," "Kevin Unleashed," "The Dean Goes Down" and "The Bird").
  • Meet the Team (8:04) - Director/Co-Writer Paul Feig and the cast introduce viewers to the film's core characters: Abby Yakes, Erin Gilbert, Jillian Holtzmann and Patty Tolan.
  • The Ghosts of Ghostbusters (13:57) - A look at the movie's different "tiers" of ghosts and the practical and visual effects techniques used to bring them to life, as well as the actors who play some of them.
  • Visual Effects: 30 Years Later (15:16) - A closer look at the visual techniques used to bring to life the film's ghosts, from the interactive lighting rigs, to the use of drones, to the mixture of green screen, CG and in-camera effects used to create the climactic Times Square sequence.
  • Slime Time (5:15) - The filmmakers reveal their recipe for the different viscosities of slime used in the movie.
  • Chris Hemsworth is "Kevin" (7:42) - A piece praising Hemsworth's looks and comedic chops, as well as a bit about his dance moves and the stunt work.
  • Photo Gallery - 86 images of production art, focusing primarily on the film's paranormal antagonists and the Ghostbusters' equipment.

Ghostbusters is available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as of October 11th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 57 Mins. (Theatrical Version) and 2 Hrs. 14 Mins. (Extended Version)

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on July 12th, 2016.

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