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Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II 4K UHD Review

Boy, this is strange. After years in the industry of creating special features for DVD and Blu-rays, I've never really done a review for one. But now that I'm no longer working in that field, and given that the folks in Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's publicity department were kind enough to send me review copies, here goes... my very first disc review of the Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II Ultra-HD 4K Blu-ray releases.

VIDEO QUALITY

Being only the second UHD disc that I've been able to take a look at (the other being the recent Deadpool release), it's tough to have a comparison for these older films in a 4K presentation. But as a fan of Ghostbusters, I loved every frame of what has been done here. In terms of the first film, the picture quality is very comparable to the "Mastered in 4K" release - I'd have to put freeze-frames side by side to get a good idea just where the differences occur in the jump in resolution. But this master is leaps and bounds better than the original pre-remastering Ghostbusters Blu-ray release... which was better than the previous DVD release, which had improved on the original DVD release. That's the good news, with ever release the picture quality continues to shine incrementally. Colors are deep and rich. Sharpness is good without any lines buzzing. I wish I had the ability to take screencaptures from the UHD discs because the picture presentation is absolutely astounding. Grain has been left in place to continue to give the feature presentation a filmic quality (and to mimic what audiences would have seen in theaters with a print projection) but the sharpness and the detail is wonderful. Sure, compared to the Deadpool UHD, there's a noticeable jump in the detail and fidelity of the image between the two, but make no mistake, this is the best that either film has looked in years let alone on a home video release. But chances are, if you purchased either the "Mastered in 4K" Blu-ray a year or two ago or that two-pack Digibook set and you're happy with the picture quality, you might not notice that large of a jump between the two releases.

AUDIO QUALITY

This is where the new release for both films really shines. My Dolby Atmos enabled system loved the brand-new mixes done for both of these films, even if they are a little scaled back when compared to the Deadpool UHD or the most recent Gravity Atmos release. Needless to say, the new mix is a massive upgrade from the stereo mix days, the surrounds get a pretty good workout with a lot of flybys and sound effects enveloping you on both films. It's still not as bombastic of a mix as a modern-era Atmos mix might provide, but for a film that's over 30 years old in the case of the original, it's still pretty darn impressive.

SPECIAL FEATURES

First off... hey! They listened and swapped Slimers so that the correct version of each is on their respective covers (initial versions of the box art solicited had Ghostbusters II Slimer on the original film's cover and vice-versa). It looks like they also nudged the (odd-choice) Fort Detmerring photo on the original films' cover so that the logo isn't chopping off poor Ernie Hudson's head. That said, man those covers are still ugly.

But why judge a book by its cover? Let's dive into what's contained inside...

The UHD discs lack any special features with the exception of an audio commentary, most likely to assure that the highest bit-rate is dedicated to the picture and audio presentation on these discs. But the standard 1080p Blu-ray discs include the same special features that were included on the Digibook two-pack set released in 2014. But hey, this is my first venture into a Blu-ray review, let's leave no stone left unturned and dive into what's here (and what's not). 

Included on the Blu-ray are:

"Who You Gonna Call: A Ghostbusters Retrospective" - called a "roundtable" discussion (though not at a table and is more of a Geoff Boucher moderated Q&A)

"Time is But a Window: Ghostbusters II and Beyond" - the second part of the Geoff Boucher "roundtable" that gives a little bit of a discussion on the production and response of the second film and talks about prospects for a third film at a time when Paul Feig's current July release was unannounced.

Deleted Scenes - 10 scenes from the original film (with several missing that were on the Criterion disc and for some reason still have never made it onto a SPHE release) and 7 very welcome deleted scenes from the second film are presented here... although there are several scenes from the second movie that aren't represented here for one reason or another including a cameo from Eugene Levy we've seen in production photography but never on celluloid. Deleted scenes, especially with actors cut from the film in entirety are always a tricky thing, but those are the types of things that fans would love to see. Maybe some day. Again, good fodder for another box set down the line.

Alternate TV Takes - These are a lot of fun, especially for those of us that grew up without a proper VHS release of the film and instead watched the ABC Sunday Night at the Movies recording we had over and over. A fun inclusion.

Audio Commentary by Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis and Joe Medjuk (on the first film). This is the same commentary from the 90s, it's fun and light-hearted but a little dated at this point. Dan Aykroyd had said he recorded new commentaries for both films at the time of the original Blu-ray release, neither of which strangely seem to have seen the light of day. Maybe an upcoming box set with the 2016 film?

Slimer Mode - the "BonusView" track over the film is fun, although a bit repetitive of materials elsewhere.

"Ecto-1: Resurrecting the Classic Car" - great 15 minute featurette from when the car was restored for the 25th anniversary. Sadly since that time, the Ecto-1A from the second film has been rotting and still sits in shambles.

Featurettes: Original 1984 featurette (cut from the EPK material, which is fantastic), cast and crew featurette, SFX Team featurette - these are all great though aren't given much time to breathe. There's also a multi-angle feature that is replicated from the original DVD release (and the Criterion Laserdisc before it) where you can see VFX/SFX shots before and after with the touch of a button.

Music Videos: Both the Ray Parker Jr. music video and the Bobby Brown "On Our Own" music video are represented on both discs. Glad to have them. Though there's several other music videos that could and should be included on a future release. The Bus Boys' "Cleanin' Up the Town", Mick Smiley's "Magic", Run DMC's "Ghostbusters" remix.

Trailers - yes. That same weird trailer is on the original film that was on the original Blu-ray release. Must have been a legal issue or something but it's... weird. Maybe they wanted to take advantage of the HD picture by overcutting footage from the film into the trailer with the audio bed, maybe there was a legal reason, but it's strange to hear cut lines of dialogue under the wrong shots (Venkman's cut line about being the "Chairman of the Largest Paranormal Removal Company" under the shot of the original Ghostbusters banner being hung outside the firehouse being the most egregious. Why not include the ORIGINAL original trailer? It's such a strange choice. I can understand not including the trailer on the Criterion disc that includes the unused Ghostbusters theme because of music legality issues, but this one is a head-scratcher to me still.

NOT included on the Blu-ray are: several of the deleted scenes seen on previous releases including the Criterion laserdisc release. There's a whole lot of key behind the scenes elements that have never been explored on a home video release (which hopefully the upcoming "Cleanin' Up the Town" documentary will take care of) but for reference, I did a full breakdown of what would be the ideal set of special features in an old Private Sector column that you can see here courtesy of Proton Charging.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Do you have a 4K TV and the latest Dolby Atmos home theater setup and are you a die-hard Ghostbusters fan? Then this release is for you. But if you purchased the lovely Digibook set no more than a year ago, and you don't have the latest tech setup then there's really no need for you to purchase this set. Much like the "Superbit" releases of old in the DVD days, this is really for the video and audio aficionados, and even then because it's an older movie many people won't be using it as reference for their home theater demos most likely. If you've already got the excellent Digibook Blu-ray set, you might want to hold out to see if another box set of the films is released down the line with more special features. That definitive "Alien Anthology" archival version of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II in box set is still elusive. Maybe some day, it'll come to pass.

Sony and Ghost Corps Open the Gates to a Lucky Few

The big story today is, quite obviously, the first Ghostbusters trailer in nearly thirty years. Once again the familiar tones of Ray Parker Jr.'s iconic theme, the familiar sights, the jump scares, and the laughs are on the big screen and it's a glorious thing.

What might be buried under the lead today is the tremendous branch that Sony and the newly-formed Ivan Reitman production company Ghost Corps extended to a select few fans, and the great lengths they went to make a memorable day for them. It's unfortunate that not everyone was able to attend, but when I refer to a select few there was still quite a gathering of fans from all around the country that were given a rare pass inside the gates of the Sony Pictures Studios, allowed to view the trailer with select members of the press in advance, and get to meet and thank some of their heroes - who were just as thankful and gracious in return.

The morning on Wednesday was chaotic, a very complicated press and marketing day with a lot of moving parts that, make no mistake, usually does not accompany a trailer launch but rather the proper premiere of the film. But the chaos was good natured, more of a buzz of excitement rather than an uncomfortable clutter. As fans arrived, some having driven through the night and the wee hours of the morning to make a 9am arrival time, they walked onto the studio lot and immediately caught a glimpse not just of the original 1959 Caddy Ectomobile, but its new "modern" counterpart waiting in the courtyard during their walk. It wasn't uncommon during that walk to hear gasps, backpacks and purses drop to the floor, and Ghostheads in full regalia go running toward the cars and immediately start posing for photo opportunities.

Sony laid out a spread of props, coffee and pastries for the fans and the press as they waited - many fans who have have discussed so many topics at so much length over the internet for years but were only meeting in person for the very first time. I have to admit, in the years that I've spent covering Ghostbusters and trying to be an industrious member of the community, I've been somewhat of a hermit in social gatherings and meeting people "IRL" as the kids say. Do they still say that? Whatever, it's irrelevant, Sony's Cary Grant theater quickly became overrun by flight suits, proton packs, and a whole lot of smiles.

Everyone was led into the theater and seated - fans were placed in the front rows, proton packs were catered to with care, and Ivan Reitman was up first to greet everyone and introduce Paul Feig. After quick introductions everyone was treated to the trailer...

I was so thankful that when fans chanted "one more time" because I was so overwhelmed with the first viewing of the trailer - after all this time, after all this waiting, it was too much of a blur to completely comprehend. A surreal experience where, by the time you realize you're watching a new Ghostbusters trailer, you're looking at the end sell cards at its tail. On the second viewing, I was able to have more of a genuine reaction (something that happened as well in watching The Force Awakens over the holidays, you're able to absorb more on the second viewing after so much anticipation).

Following the trailer viewing, a Q&A discussion with Ivan Reitman, Paul Feig and writer Katie Dippold commenced. It was a lively conversation, with so many great details that were revealed about the production process and the things that we've yet to still see. That entire discussion will be heard as a bonus episode of the Interdimensional Crossrip tomorrow.

The theatrical presentation came to a close and everyone flooded into the walkways of the lot outside, and back to the comfort of Ghost Corps' front yard which houses both Ectomobiles. Group photos were taken, autographs were signed, interviews for EPK, the Ghostheads documentary, and several other outlets were completed. And then Reitman took a position at the top of the stairs to the Grant Building and held court, presenting the franchises with certificates of their registration with Ghost Corps, shaking their hands, and posing for photos. After all of the certificates were handed out, more photos were taken and the crowd started to disperse. Paul Feig shook so many hands, graciously thanked everyone, and signed as many autographs as he could before his representatives shooed him away. During the Q&A, he made a point to talk about seeing the original Ghostbusters film for the first time and how much it impacted him. His love for the film, especially for all of the technology, is abundantly clear in the trailer and how he speaks of the film to come, and certainly was evident in the energy and enthusiasm he had for all of the fans on site.

That event in and of itself would have been extremely generous of all involved, but that's not where the day ended. Fans were then invited into a dining area near the theater for a catered lunch that featured themed foods and of course, gourmet Twinkies for dessert. As fans sat at giant roundtables and discussed everything that had just occurred (some lively discussions, some more tempered as exhaustion began to set in for some of those who had been up through the night), the room buzzed again as Ivan Reitman stepped in and went from table to table to have quick quality chats with each. As he sipped his coffee and the fans ate, they talked about the new film, the future of the franchise, and even shared laughs over how his other films like Meatballs were responsible for so many childhoods.

As shuttles and cars began to leave and the crowd thinned, the smiles were still present. It truly was a wonderful day in which the warmth, the love, and the respect between everyone involved was incredibly evident and it once again was clear that the fans are coming first. With so many dedicated fans, so many franchises, and so many active members of the community, not everyone could be included - but the gesture on the part of the studio and the production company was enormous and most likely only the first indication of many more things to come, in which I'm sure a greater number will be able to feel the love.

Ghostbusters (2016) Official Trailer Release

Scientists armed with nuclear accelerators, jump scares, a ridiculous amount of technology, and the Power of Patty Compelling You! It's all here in the first official trailer for the new Ghostbusters film. Stop reading this now and watch this puppy over and over with the sound cranked and get ready for an Interdimensional Crossrip roundtable in the Cyclotron in a bit with an awesome panel of guests to discuss!