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Ghostbusters (2016)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/11/2016

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/13/2016

Reviewing movies on this website is pretty cool. There is one drawback of writing about home video releases. Some films draw a lot of attention when they play in theaters, and this attention can create a great deal of conversation amongst both fans and detractors. So, by the time that I get to write about these movies, there's not much left to say. That is certainly the case with the new Ghostbusters movie. Few movies in recent memory have generated as much chatter as this all-female remake/reboot. Is there anything left to say about this hot-button release? Let's see.

Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a college physics professor who is aiming tenure. Therefore, she's mortified when she learns that a book about ghosts which she wrote years ago with her former colleague, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). She goes to confront Abby about this and inadvertently admits that she'd recently been asked to investigate a haunting. Abby, and her assistant Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), jump at the chance to check this out, and Erin tags along. The haunting turns out to be real, and the three decide to begin researching spirits. After seeing a specter in the subway, transit authority worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) seeks out the scientists, and joins the crew. Soon, reports of ghostly activities surface all over the city, keeping this team, deemed "Ghostbusters" by the media, very busy. They soon begin to suspect that this activity isn't an accident, and that someone is behind it.

The other problem with reviewing a movie after it's been in theaters and people have made a fuss, is that certain expectations are created, and that is certainly the case here. So, part of the primary reaction to Ghostbusters is dealing with whether or not those preconceptions were accurate. Knowing the actors involved, going in to the movie, I had expected Wiig, Jones, and McCarthy to be their normally over-the-top selves, but they weren't. In everything else that I've ever seen her in, Jones has shown that her only "talent" is being loud, but she's relatively subdued here. Wiig often seems to thrive on being annoyingly goofy, but she too reins things in. McCarthy has her moments of physical comedy, but gone is the foul-mouthed loud-mouth which we've seen in her recent films. It's McKinnon, who shows so much range on Saturday Night Live who seems to be in a different movie here, as her character goes far beyond quirky into disconnected from reality.

Again, given McCarthy's track record with Director Paul Feig in movies like Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy, I had expected the movie to be needlessly crude and abrasive. I had braced myself for an Amy Schumer-like "women can be nasty too" stance, which is often more about shock value than any true comedic talent. But, Ghostbusters keeps things relatively clean and stays well within the boundaries of its PG-13 rating. On the flipside, I didn't know what to expect from the story, and what I found was a script which didn't really have much of a plot. The "Ghostbusters" are formed, they fight some ghosts, and that's about it. As noted above, someone is causing the hauntings, but that part of the story is never fleshed out.

What does this all add up to? A movie which is remarkably flat. First things first. This is not the trainwreck which many people stated that it is or, more likely, wanted it to be. But, nor is it a particularly good movie. And, yes, a lot of that opinion comes from the fact that I'm comparing it to the original Ghostbusters film. Hey, they chose to give this movie the same name, so they brought the comparisons upon themselves. While I did laugh a few times, mostly at the bumbling shenanigans of Chris Hemsworth and at one 80s music reference, the movie is not all that funny. It doesn't have the subtle, clever lines of the original movie, but it also doesn't have the kind of humor which one would expect from a McCarthy-Feig film. The lack of a well-defined story doesn't help either. As a student of the occult, Dan Aykroyd poured his heart into the script for Ghostbusters and that depth made the silly, funny parts of the film really stand out. The story in this new film is merely a prop to hang some scenes onto. I had wondered if a project like this was too big for Feig, but the action scenes are handled well and the movie has a great look.

I hate to sound like every other person who has talked about this movie, but why didn't Feig and company simply call this something else? They could have easily made a comedy about female paranormal investigators and made any ties to Ghostbusters purely tangential. Sure, some comparisons would have been made, but when you call your movie Ghostbusters, you are opening yourself up for a world of hurt. And, if you are going to go that route, you had better make a movie which is awesomely good or awesomely bad. As it's decidedly mediocre, Ghostbusters doesn't really deserve the scorn that it's received, but it doesn't deserve anyone's attention either.

Ghostbusters proves that men can do it better (send your hate mail to...) on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 21 Mbps. It's at this point that we should wonder if having two cuts of the film and a lot of extra on the Disc compromised the audio and video quality. Sony is known for its high-quality technical packages, but things are questionable here. That bitrate is decidedly low and the fleshtones look very waxy here, especially Kristen Wiig. Spots of colors seem to really blossom and detail suffers at times. On the positive side, most of the time, the colors look very good and the image is never overly dark. We also get a very interesting effect where objects will leave the letterboxing. The only other place that I've seen is Life of Pi. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The bitrate barely gets above 3.0, which, again, is a rarity for Sony. Despite this, the track sounds good, delivering palpable subwoofer action and some detailed surround sound. The track really comes to life during the finale.

The Ghostbuster Blu-ray Disc is loaded with extras. We being with an AUDIO COMMENTARY with Director/Co-Writer Paul Feig and Co-Writer Katie Dippold. This is followed by a second COMMENTARY with Feig, Editor Brent White, Executive Producer Jessie Henderson, Production Designer Jeff Sage, Visual Effects Supervisor Pete Travers, and Special Effects Supervisor Mark Hawker. We get not one, but two GAG REELS, which run a total of 15 minutes. The Disc contains four DELETED SCENES which run about 9 minutes. There's only one truly new scene here. This is followed by eleven EXTENDED & ALTERNATE SCENES which run about 21 minutes. "Jokes A Plenty" (34 minutes) offers six sections of alternate takes and unused jokes focusing on different scenes and actors. "Meet the Team" (8 minutes) focuses on the four main actresses. "The Ghosts of Ghostbusters" (14 minutes) looks at the creature design and visual effects. "Visual Effects: 30 Years Later" (15 minutes) examines how far effects have come since the original film. This contains comments from Ivan Reitman. "Slime Time" (5 minutes) takes us on-set for the gooey opening scene and other moments of slime. "Chris Hemsworth is 'Kevin'" (8 minutes) has the other cast members singing his praises. The final extra is a "Photo Gallery".

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long