Ghost [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (20th January 2009).
The Film

I'm not sure what the executives at Paramount were thinking at the time of hiring Jerry Zucker to direct "Ghost", famously paired with his brother David Zucker the two were responsible for some big comedy hits in the 1980's and 1990's including "Airplane!" (1980), "Top Secret!" (1984) as well as the "Naked Gun" series (1988-1994), "Ghost" is not a comedy, it's a romantic drama, I can see why writer Bruce Joel Rubin was initially heartbroken when Zucker was attached to direct, afraid he wouldn't take the material seriously. Luckily for Rubin, the Paramount executives and us as an audience he did in fact take the film seriously and delivered one of the most memorable films of the 1990's and led the way for a myriad of copycats and spoofs of the classic pottery wheel scene. 17 years later and "Ghost" is still a powerfully gripping film and one of the most romantic, even with Patrick Swayze's mullet and Demi Moore's boyish haircut.

Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) and fiance Molly Jensen (Demi Moore) were a happy couple living in bliss, when one night they encounter a thief on their way home and Sam is murdered. Molly finds it hard to move on, but unknown to her Sam is still around as a ghost. He discovers that his death was no simple robbery but the result of an absolute betrayal and discovers that his love Molly is also in danger. In an effort to warn her he seeks the help of a psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg) so that Sam can communicate with Molly.

"Ghost" is first and foremost a love story and secondly a thriller and an effective one at that. Who would have thought that a filmmaker responsible for spoof comedies could deliver a mature film? I remember seeing this film years ago on television and instantly liking it and I haven't seen it for a long time until I was sent the 2007 'Collector's Edition' DVD and now this Blu-ray release. I remembered little bits such as Whoopi's wonderful performances especially in the scene when Sam first approaches her (she won an Oscar for this role in the 'Best Supporting Actress' category). I remembered the pottery wheel scene (who could forget?) and also the intense climax of the film. Certain images were burned into my memory such as the window frame guillotine at the end of the film, Whoopi freaking out, Sam's longful and heartfelt gaze at Molly as well as the response of "ditto" after she tells him "I love you" among other things and that's a testament to the impact of the film. After all those years it's still entertaining and endearing film even though it has dated somewhat in time, Swayze's mullet is a distracting and terrible reminder of that era and its fashion sense which was trying to get over the trauma that was the 1980's. The film's plot is also uncomplicated and bears no surprises but also manipulative in its ability to suck you into the lives of these characters presenting them as a perfect couple in love, this way you are focusing on the characters and their plight rather than anything else. By the end you'll want a happy ending and that's basically what you get.

"Ghost" isn't exactly a movie for the guys, it's basically a chick flick, but it's a chick flick that can appeal to us males with the inclusion of the thriller elements. The film was certainly a box office surprise connecting with audiences and it still does today on disc, I'm sure if you're a fan of this film then you'd have already bought this on DVD so an upgrade to HD is something to consider, otherwise it's worth a rental especially if you're watching it with your significant other.

Video

The film is presented in its original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 and this transfer has been mastered onto Blu-ray in high-definition 1080p using AVC MPEG-4 compression. The master for this image would have been the same used for the previous DVD released back in 2007. The image was given a new transfer back then, cleaned up and spruced up and thus what we get here is basically a transfer that's basically similar. The image is sharp for the most part although there are some soft spots around. Grain is prevalent and black levels are a bit on the noisy side and I wasn't too impressed with the colors which looked weak. However the image is pretty clean for a film of its age, skin tones fare better here than on the DVD release and detail does in fact look good. It's a slight upgrade from DVD but nothing we've come to expect from Blu-ray.

Audio

Three audio tracks are included in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mixed at 48kHz/24-bit as well as standard Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in French and Spanish. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its TrueHD track. The new audio offering doesn't sound all that different from the previous standard 5.1 track on the DVD, although I did notice it was a bit louder. Dialogue is clear and distortion free, the music comes across well and there's some subtle ambiance which adds to the overall immersiveness of the film but frankly it's lacking in punch and depth.
Optional subtitles are included in English, English for the hearing impaired, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Extras

This Blu-ray edition boasts the same extras as on the previous DVD release, these include an audio commentary, four featurettes, the film's theatrical trailer and a photo gallery. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up we have a feature length audio commentary by the film's director Jerry Zucker and screenwriterBruce Joel Rubin. It's hard to believe these two managed to work together on this project, just by this track alone it's clear how different their personalities are. Zucker is the consummate entertainer keeping the discussion light-hearted with Rubin taking on the straight man role with a uniformed and, at times serious tone. They cover various aspects of film production from pre-production to production, in casting the roles, and we also learn about Rubin's experience in film's specifically how he got started in what can be considered the most boring part of this entire track. There are moments like that were the fast forward button is a godsend, and with the occasional lull in conversation you'll probably use it a few times. While there's some good stuff in here if you miss it it won't really matter.

Next up is "Ghost Stories: The Making of a Classic" a featurette which runs for 13 minutes 6 seconds. This is a look at the development of the film's themes and story, the key cast and crew all comment in interviews share their thoughts. We also get some behind-the-scenes footage and it's disappointing to see that Demi Moore didn't participate in new interviews as she's only seen in vintage footage from 1990.

"Inside the Paranormal" is a featurette that runs for 8 minutes 35 seconds. This is a look at the whole psychic thing, and contacting the dead and all that stuff. I suppose if you're a fan of shows like "Crossing Over with John Edward" (1999-2004) then you might like to take a peek at this clip, otherwise move on.

Following that is "Alchemy of a Love Scene" a featurette which runs for 6 minutes 17 seconds. This takes a look at the love scenes in the film, mainly the famous or rather infamous pottery wheel scene and its impact. This clip also takes a closer look at script elements that changed during the course of production.

The final featurette is "Cinema's Great Romances" running at 19 minutes 45 seconds. From AFI (American Film Institute) they take a look at some of the greatest cinema romances of the last 100 years, which of course includes "Ghost".

Also included is the film's original theatrical trailer which runs for 2 minutes 32 seconds.

A photo gallery follows and includes 63 images that features publicity stills, production stills and advertising material.

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: B Audio: B- Extras: B+ Overall: B

 


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