Ghostbusters was campy. It was silly. It was nowhere near high-brow entertainment. Yet 25 years after its debut, Ghostbusters on Blu-ray is one of our most purely gleeful releases on the high-definition format. In spite of its 25-year-old status, Ghostbusters has retained all the charm, bad jokes and occasionally questionable acting that we came to love upon its release in 1984. Some classic films make you question why you liked them when they’re re-released on Blu-ray, but Ghostbusters doesn’t suffer the same fate. To be fair, it doesn’t hold up visually quite as well as we’d like, but it’s still safe to say that Ghostbusters has never looked or sounded better.
Rehashing the plot of Ghostbusters is about as inane as reminding readers how many fingers they have, so we won’t bore you with a recap. You know the story, we know the story, and you can probably sing the theme song karaoke-style without a teleprompter. So, on to the Blu-ray goodness.
As with any 25-year-old film, Ghostbusters ran the serious risk of looking downright horrible in 1080p high-definition video. Would Slimer be pixelized? Would the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man be obviously blue-screened? Would the demon dog/gargoyle minions of Gozer look ridiculous? The answer to all of these is remarkably “no,” although the Gozer dogs do look a bit silly (simply because CGI is better nowadays). More important, though, is that nearly every scene shows serious grain. The most pleasantly surprising graphical element is actually the beams from the proton packs, which look even less like neon rubber bands than they did 25 years ago. It’s not clear whether Sony remastered the beams or just cleaned up the video during the transfer, but either way, you’ll definitely be able to make out the individual beams when Egon, Ray and company cross the streams.
Ironically, the proton packs also provide some of the best audio. Quite simply, the LFE (subwoofer) The Energy RC-Micro home theater system delivered the sound for this review.gets an intense workout when the Ghostbusters flip the switch on their packs, particularly the first time they fire one up in the hotel elevator. The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man also provides some fun audio, with the LFE getting a little jumpy when the 20-ton sugarpuff lumbers through downtown. The surround channels could’ve used a bit more attention, because as it is, they only get audio love in two scenes: the initial ballroom Ghostbusting scene and the climactic ghost release when the EPA shuts down the containment unit. Other than that, Ghostbusters on Blu-ray is predominantly a two- to three-channel affair. It all sounds fine and is well balanced, but it doesn’t seem to take real advantage of the benefits of new audio technology.
The Blu-ray exclusives that do stand out are led off by the picture-in-picture Slimer Mode, which incorporates interviews with the cast and crew as they comment on the film. This is not to be confused by the audio-only commentary track with Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis and Joe Medjuck (associate producer). Whereas the Slimer Mode is entertaining, the audio commentary track is surprisingly dry, although it fits Ramis’ tone and monotone voice to a T.
The CineChat feature, which allows viewers to talk with online friends via BD-Live, is an interesting idea, but it really doesn’t showcase BD-Live as well as, say, the quiz features on Star Trek: The Original Series Season One. A 15-minute featurette about restoring the Ecto-1, creatively titled Ecto-1: Resurrecting the Classic Car, provides some nice footage or restoring the old hearse-turned-fleet-vehicle, but it’s really designed most for Ghostbuster nostalgia buffs. Of course, then again, isn’t this entire re-release on Blu-ray?
Whether you’re watching Ghostbusters for the first or fourteenth time, the film’s debut on Blu-ray is a worthy addition to your home-entertainment catalog. It doesn’t suffer from the loss of its charm, and its multimedia aspects, while definitely dated, have been faithfully translated to the high-definition format. If you’re looking to spend some cash on an “oldie but a goodie,” all you need to ask yourself is “who you gonna call?” The answer will be obvious from that point on.
Click here to buy Ghostbusters on Blu-ray from Amazon.
- Score: 8.5
— Jonas Allen