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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Ghostbusters 1 & 2: Double Feature Gift Set (1984/1989)

Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"?
Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff.
Venkman: Exactly.
Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling.
Spengler: Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave.
Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together—mass hysteria.

- Bill Murray, David Margulies, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: August 09, 2005

Stars: Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Rick Moranis, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson
Other Stars: Annie Potts, William Atherton, David Margulies, Larry King, Casey Kasem, Peter MacNicol
Director: Ivan Reitman

MPAA Rating: PG for (occasional mature humor)
Run Time: 03h:33m:13s
Release Date: August 02, 2005
UPC: 043396051607
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BBB B-

DVD Review

Ghostbusters, the 1984 mega-hit that was a thematic precursor to films like Men in Black, originally came out on DVD in 1999, but then the disc unexpectedly went out of print. Universal has now resurrected this classic comedy, along with the tepid but obligatory sequel, and issued them in this modestly priced "gift set." Nearly all of the extras found on the OOP version show up on the remastered Ghostbusters disc, and with an improved image transfer, Universal has done a good, good thing.

Ghostbusters (1984)
01h:45m:01s

The proverbial 500 pound gorilla, Ghostbusters wasn't just a popular bit of entertainment, it spawned one of the most recognizable film logos of all time, as well as one of the most obnoxiously difficult songs to remove from the cavernous recesses of your mind. This was big, effects-driven moviemaking for 1984, starring four very funny guys (Murray, Ramis, Aykroyd, Moranis), three of whom (Aykroyd, Ramis, Moranis) wrote the screenplay. Everything came together for Reitman with this film, and even with some effects shots that don't hold up so well 20+ years later, it is still a fun ride.

The story, about three (eventually four, when Ernie Hudson joins the crew) ghost removal experts who save New York from catastrophic paranormal destruction, allows for plenty of elaborate set pieces, but it is the quick back-and-forth banter between Murray, Ramis, and Aykroyd that gives Ghostbusters something extra, with pseudo-scientific jargon lobbed in between lines like "Let's show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown!" Murray, who had worked with Reitman on Meatballs and Stripes, gives one of his better comedic performances here, really polishing that familiar smug cockiness of his while sniffing around Sigourney Weaver, who at one point tells Murray's Venkman character that he's not like a typical scientist, but rather more "like a game show host."

Plus, you just have to like a film with a towering marshmallow man wading through New York City.

Ghostbusters 2 (1989)
01h:48m:12s

Reinforcing the notion of generally lackluster sequels is this disappointing 1989 followup from Reitman, bringing back the same batch of characters to save New York again, this time from a river of slime and a weird painting that brings all sorts of undead wackiness to the city. Sadly, there isn't much of a spark to the story in Ghostbusters 2 at all, and Murray, Ramis, and Aykroyd (and to a lesser extent the forgotten Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson) seem to just be going through the motions this time around, though the five years in between films certainly display an improvement in effects quality.

All of the "what happened since Ghostbusters" backstory shows some promise, with the team having been split into numerous directions after a wave of lawsuits, but the unfolding and buildup all points to a film that exists to outdo the giant marshmallow man from the first film, this time with an iconic New York figure as the big payoff. The inevitable comparisons to the runaway success that was Ghostbusters are to be expected, especially when packaged in a two-disc set, but on a strictly side-by-side basis there isn't much to even make it a marginally close race. All of the technological advancements in special effects (and some do show their age here) don't make up for a script that never captures that same freshness that Reitman did in 1984.

The naysaying doesn't diminish the fact that both of these films did quite well at the box office (especially Ghostbusters), and it is rather surprising that there wasn't a third film, though in hindsight I question the execution of the one sequel we did get. The good news, though, out of all of this is that this new set is priced to move, so fans of the series (and I know there are many who actually prefer the sequel over the original) can pick up both titles for well under $15.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio2.40:1 - Widescreen2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyesyes
Anamorphicyesyes


Image Transfer Review: Evaluating the aspect ratio issues between the new Ghostbusters 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen and the 2.35:1 transfer we saw back in 1999 seems to be a bone of contention amongst the film's faithful, and will likely have purists feverishly measuring to see which print sports the "proper" presentation. I'm here to say that the quality of this new print is a dramatic improvement, with side-by-side comparisons revealing some substantial differences between the newly remastered transfer and the old, with brighter colorization throughout, and a general absence of the darker overall hue found on the 1999 release. The print is so bright that some of the effects shots manage to show their age more than they did the first time around.

Ghostbusters 2 carries a new 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, though the merits of a possible improvement is tougher to isolate over previous versions, including the region 2 issues. On its own, the print itself is very clean, carrying the same level of rich coloring found on the revamped Ghostbusters transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanish, Portugueseyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Both films are presented with English language Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks, with Ghostbusters including French and Spanish 2.0, while Ghostbusters 2 just carries alternate languages in Spanish or Portuguese 2.0. The 5.1 mixes have supposedly been remixed, and while neither jump out as being all that different from previous versions, the quality is fine, albeit somewhat lacking in bottom end when it really needed it.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 56 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai with remote access
10 Deleted Scenes
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
Storyboard
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis, Joe Medjuck
Packaging: Nexpak
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Ghostbusters Movie Scrapbook
Extras Review: Ugly packaging on this one, but for the low price it can almost be overlooked. The two discs are housed very tightly in separate NexPak thin cases inside a gaudy green cardboard slipcase meant to resemble "slime", but instead ends up looking like a closeup of a fishing lure. And disregard the back of the slipcase, which erroneously states one or both of the films are presented in 1.33:1. Rest assured neither are, with Ghostbusters presented in 2.40:1 and the sequel in 2.35:1.

For better or worse, all of the extras for the first film have been ported over from the earlier OOP release—down to the nearly identical menu system—with the exception of the MST3K "video" option of the Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis, producer Joe Medjuck commentary and the subtitled Tricks and Trivia text track, which is nowhere to be found on this new issue. Even if it's an old one, the commentary from Reitman, Ramis and Medjuck is a still a good one, with no shortage of salient background production info and pointing funny little moments such as Bill Murray nearly tripping over a railing to original cast ideas.

Next up comes more of the same old same old, in this case the so-called Scene Cemetery, housing 10 rather brief deleted scenes, all of which were found on the previous release. The print quality is absolutely awful, but there are a couple of mildly amusing bits (such as the one about the Sta-Puft man's hat), but nothing to go gaga over. Also showing up again is the original and very grainy 1984 Featurette (09m:25s) on the making of that shows how EPKs have actually advanced over the years, as well as a Cast And Crew Featurette (10m:25s), circa 1999, with all the principle cast and crew reminiscing while footage of the film over their comments.

The special effects segments rehashes content we've seen before, anchored by a 1999 SFX Team Featurette (15m:02s) and some multi-angle comparisons for effects shots, in addition to some side-by-side storyboard samplings with the finished film and a set of conceptual drawings.

Ghostbusters 2 gets the red-headed stepchild syndrome of the two, and is saddled with a pair of episodes from the godawful 1986 animated series, The Real Ghostbusters, representing just about the only fresh content on this two-disc set. The two painfully bad eps included here are Citizen Ghost (23m:45s) and Partners in Slime (26m:18s). You have been warned about the animated suckage.

Also crammed in the ugly green box is one of the other new things, the Ghostbusters Movie Scrapbook, a 26-page book printed on fairly thick stock that covers the making of, creating the now familiar icon, as well as developing characters, special effects, and the poster designs. Less fully informative than it is just fun to thumb through, the most insightful segment is Michael Gross talking about designing the "no ghosts" logo.

Each film is cut into 28 chapters, with optional subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean or Thai.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Get past the ugly packaging and the questionable merits of the sequel, and this low-priced two-disc set is worth it alone just for Ghostbusters.

 


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