In celebration of the 35th anniversary of Ghostbusters, Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray Limited Edition Steelbook release of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures – 1984, 1989
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 105 minutes
Disc Format: BD-66
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese, Hindi, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Spanish. Swedish, Thai
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Music by: Elmer Bernstein, Randy Edelman
Written by: Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis
Region Code: A,B,C
Release Date: June 11, 2019
“The classic supernatural comedies that defined a generation: GHOSTBUSTERS and GHOSTBUSTERS II, together in a limited edition 4K Ultra HD Steelbook with never-before-seen special features! In the original GHOSTBUSTERS, Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) go freelance, de-haunting houses in a new ghost removal service. As soon as they open their doors, their first order of business becomes saving beautiful cellist Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) and nerdy Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), who’ve inadvertently opened the gates of hell…right in their own apartment building! Then in GHOSTBUSTERS II, the superstars of the supernatural reunite to battle an enormous underground river of slime that threatens New York City!” – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
I reviewed the 2016 Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Ghostbusters and, have included my comments from that review here. Ratings for film and audio/video will be the same, as they are identical to that release. New comments and ratings for the new bonus material are below.
I am going to skip going into an overview of the story. I would hope that anyone interested in reading this review would be familiar with this film 35 years (what?!) after its release. The year was 1984, it was early summer and I was a young strapping lad of 20, on my first date with my new 24 year old girlfriend. We went to see Ghostbusters which was the hottest release at the time. Being a big fan of Bill Murray films such as Meatballs and Stripes this one had lots of promise, and it delivered. Its blend of horror, thrills, and comedy wrapped in a sort of comedic, epic style was something that I hadn’t experienced before, and the combination worked.
It had one or two decent scares. The scene in Dana’s apartment, involving the chair, right before she is taken into the kitchen/possessed by Zuul, was pretty scary stuff back then. The confrontation with Gozer and its rather creepy/eerie voice is memorable as well. But it’s the lighter moments that truly sell this film. Peter’s wise cracking retorts, and seemingly unflappable demeanor, the interpersonal and jocular relationship between Egon, Ray, and Peter, is simply priceless. The romantic element between Dana and Peter, the unspoken affair between Egon and Janine, and the awkward interaction between Louis and Dana is wonderfully integrated. The pacing is excellent, as it moves along, but offers viewers well-rounded characters, and developed situations, that not only make sense, but are scripted, and timed perfectly.
I can recall being impressed with the special effects which at the time were cool stuff. Today the stop motion animation, miniatures, and CG effects don’t hold up as well, but of course that is part of the film’s nostalgic charm. There was something so original about the over the top humor, and sarcastic wit sustained in the face of danger. Of course there are a host of great lines, many (not all) of which come from Murray, that have been quoted throughout the years. Lastly, who can forget the words to the classic theme song (who ya gonna call?).
Coming along five years later Ghostbusters II reunited the gang and a new paranormal threat to New York City. While I enjoy watching this film it lacks the freshness and fun of its predecessor. I will say that Peter MacNichol is quite the scene stealer in the role of Vigo minion, Janosz.
Dan Akroyd, and Bill Murray had already proven to be a winning combination during their time on Saturday Night Live. Harold Ramis needed no introduction after starring with Murray in Stripes and being known for penning such successful comedies as Caddyshack, Meatballs, and the aforementioned Stripes. I just love Dan Akroyd’s knack for spewing tongue twisting technical jargon, as only he can.
Ghostbusters has achieved classic status among its many fans. It has spawned a sequel, animated TV show, and video games. To me it has a timeless energy that still makes it feel fresh, fun, and entertaining. Ghostbusters II most definitely has a place but, it’s more of a nostalgic companion to the original, rather than a comedy classic.
The special features Blu-ray disc includes more than two hours of long-requested and rare archival elements—including never-before-seen deleted scenes from the first film—along with returning interviews, effects breakdowns, multi-angle explorations and much more! Both films also feature brand new commentaries, featuring the filmmakers on GHOSTBUSTERS II and passionate fans with deep-cut insights on GHOSTBUSTERS. The new bonus material is a fan’s delight as it peels back layers of interviews, production features and promotional material previously unseen.
The new Steelbook release is part of overall celebrations for the original film’s 35th anniversary, which include the exclusive Ghostbusters Fan Fest (June 7th and 8th), an international Live Orchestra Tour for the original film throughout 2019, multiple limited edition 35th anniversary product lines—such as the recently announced Transformers Ghostbusters Cross-Over product—and a variety of forthcoming to-be-announced documentaries.
Replay Value:Ghostbusters II:
The rating is for thematic elements, brief language and mild sensuality.
AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
UHD Presentation: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- HDR: Dark Highlights:
- HDR: Bright Highlights:
- HDR: Expanded Color:
- Visual Impact:
Dolby Atmos Rating: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Level of immersion:
- Soundstage integration:
- Audio object placement:
- Effectiveness of Atmos platform:
- Entertainment factor:
Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) sound.
Sony remastered Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II from the original 35mm film elements and, previously released them on Blu-ray presented in 1080p from a 4K scan. These presentation in Ultra HD are derived from that 4K image and the results are impressive.
It’s important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. These films have an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won’t result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn’t a problem and shouldn’t be seen as such.
Looking at the opening sequence to Ghostbusters, in the library, and Ghostbusters II on the street (when Oscar’s baby carriage runs amok) the improvement in depth, definition and color rendering was immediately noticeable. I was struck by the finer details present in the woodworking, book spines and backgrounds. The exterior shots of the library, grounds, city structures/buildings and the variety of colors represented in the 80’s era clothing appeared noticeably more vivid and pleasing to the eye. The addition of high dynamic range added a tangible visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. The sequence shot in the hotel ballroom in Ghostbusters and in the courtroom as the team struggled to capture the green blob/ghost, and the newly emerged ghost brothers in Ghostbusters II, looked great as the bright highlights/flashes of color from their accelerator pack beams, as well as the pyrotechnics, had incredible visual pop.
This was the case even during brightly lit exterior scenes. When the containment grid is shut down, the resulting cataclysm that destroys the Ghostbusters building erupted in brilliant whites, and cascading color that caused me to squint momentarily. Dark highlights were rendered with excellent dimension especially when coupled with brighter visual elements such as the oscillating emergency lights on top of the Ghostbusters vehicle, or the lights of the NY City skyline. The image isn’t razor sharp and some scenes suffer from innate softening but, in general detail rendering is very good overall. These Ultra HD renderings bring Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters to home video in their finest light.
In listening to the Dolby Atmos soundtracks, I was pleased with how active the mixes are. The use of overhead sound objects elevates proportional correlation. When compared to the 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD (Atmos core) the immersive mix offers a noticeable improvement by opening up the soundstage, elevating the perception of low-level detail. During the various encounters/paranormal activity the track brims with atmospherics, off screen cues and discrete sound effects that adds an enriching layer to the soundtrack. The sound design takes a subtle and more active approach when appropriate, and convey the spirit and overall feel of the original soundtrack while adding a complimentary element. I didn’t feel let down by either and had lots of fun.
For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:
- Discs 1&2: Ghostbusters & Ghostbusters II Ultra HD Blu-ray
- Discs 3&4: Ghostbusters & Ghostbusters II Blu-ray
- Disc 5: Special Features Blu-ray
NEW Bonus Features: GHOSTBUSTERS
Fan Commentary featuring Troy Benjamin and Chris Stewart (Interdimensional Crossrip podcast), Ashley Victoria Robinson (Geek History Lesson podcast) and Sean Bishop (Ghostbusters prop replica expert), moderated by Ghost Corps’ Eric Reich
6 Rare & Newly Unearthed Deleted Scenes, including the long-requested Fort Detmerring scenes!
o Also includes Raw Takes for the Central Park Bums sequence
1984 ShoWest Exhibitor Reel, featuring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd pitching an early reel of footage to theatrical exhibitors!
Full Ghostbusters TV Commercial from the film
Ghostbusters TV Commercial Outtakes
“A Moment With the Stars” – Original EPK Featurette
Original Domestic Teaser Trailer
Original Stereo Audio for the Feature (Blu-ray only)NEW Bonus Features: GHOSTBUSTERS II
Commentary featuring Director Ivan Reitman, Star/Co-Writer Dan Aykroyd and Executive Producer Joe Medjuck
“The Oprah Winfrey Show: Cast of Ghostbusters II” – June 1989
Full Ghostbusters II Theatrical EPK
Rare Unfinished Teaser Trailer – featuring the full commercial from the film!
Original Stereo Audio for the Feature (Blu-ray only)THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS
“The Real Ghostbusters – Pitch Concept Pilot” – A Fan Restoration by Robert Barbieri
Legacy Bonus Features: GHOSTBUSTERS
Commentary featuring Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis and Joe Medjuck
Slimer Mode Picture-in-Picture Track
“Tricks and Trivia” Text Commentary
10 Deleted Scenes
Who You Gonna Call: A Ghostbusters Retrospective
Cast and Crew Featurette
Ecto-1: Resurrecting the Classic Car
Alternate TV Version Takes
“Ghostbusters” Music Video by Ray Parker, Jr.
o International Teaser Trailer
o Domestic Theatrical Trailer
o 30th Anniversary Theatrical Trailer
Legacy Bonus Features:GHOSTBUSTERS II
7 Deleted Scenes
Time Is But A Window: Ghostbusters II and Beyond
“On Our Own” Music Video by Bobby Brown
o Domestic Teaser Trailer
o Domestic Theatrical Trailer
o International Theatrical Trailer
- Digital Copies of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II
Ghostbusters is a personal favorite, and memorable classic film that is adored by many. It is hard to believe that it has been 35 years since I sat and watched in the theater. It hasn’t lost any of its original luster and still makes for a fun and highly entertaining watch. Ghostbusters II isn’t quite as good as the original but, has its share of moments and nostalgic fun. The Ultra HD video presentations are solid, while the new Dolby Atmos surround mixes add a complimentary element. This Limited Edition 35th Anniversary Steelbook contains the bonus supplements from the previous releases as well as a wealth of all new exclusive features that fans can revel in. I commend Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on a job well done as this is a worthy offering that can’t miss with diehard Ghostbusters fans!
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems