Ghostbusters (1984)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis
Extras: Commentary Track, Slimer Mode, Featurettes, Photo Gallery, BD Live

I guess we all have had weird ideas and our own dreams and ideas about the ways to riches at one point or another. I am sure none of it was as outrageous as the one you'll get to see in "Ghostbusters", and I am not sure how many have been as controversial. Director Ivan Reitman created "Ghostbusters" in 1984 with the help of Saturday Night comedian Dan Aykroyd and writer/actor Harold Ramis, who are supported by Bill Murray, Rick Moranis and Sigourney Weaver in this hilarious comedy. Little did they know at the time that they were creating a cinematic phenomenon that would rise to instant cultdom and would still inspire legions of fans 25 years after its release. Wow, can you believe this films is already 25 years old? It was certainly one of the reasons why Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has prepared a Blu-Ray version of the film to make sure, the legend lives on in its full glory.

The story starts when the scientists Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) are fired from their university one day. Too long have they been the sideshow attraction of the campus rather than what you would consider serious researchers and scientists. Paranormal research has never been one of the director's pet subjects and the men's clumsiness and inability to produce actual results only adds to the overall chaos on campus.

In order to raise money to further support their work, the three eccentrics decide to open their own business as the "Ghostbusters." Incidentally, New York exhibits an increasing number of paranormal activity at the time and soon the Ghostbusters find themselves working on their first assignment. Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) had a strange encounter in her kitchen, when eggs took on a life of their own, jumping from their shells, and the interior of her fridge turns into a portal to a sinister looking place.

Investigating the case – and the woman – the Ghostbusters quickly detect increased paranormal activities in this particular building and assume it has some kind of implicit attraction to ghosts. In the meanwhile more apparitions and incidents occur across town, putting the entire city in a frenzy, and soon the Ghostbusters find themselves in higher demand than they could have ever expected. In a battle that seems hopeless, the Ghostbusters manage to capture and isolate one ghost after another, cleanly accumulating them all in their unique storage facility. Unexpectedly things take on an interesting turn when Dana and her nerdy neighbor Louis (Rick Moranis) become unwillingly tools in the resurrection of Zuul, the master of all ghosts. The Ghostbusters now have to face their ultimate challenge.

"Ghostbusters" has long found its place in our hearts and its satirical view on overzealous environmentalists, overinflated politicians and mind-numbing bureaucrats has become legendary. The film manages to wrap up all of its harsh social criticism and cynicism in a colorful and extremely entertaining comedy spectacle. Although the film is benefiting a lot from the atmospheric cinematography and the detailed production design, this movie is clearly carried by the odd-ball performances of the masterful comedians on the screen. The acting is hands-down funny and oftentimes seems more real than real. It is certainly a result of the chemistry between the actors, but must also be attributed to the amazing skills of talents like Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. Oftentimes they manage to get the best out of a particular scene by ad-libbing and improvising the most magical moments, completely setting the script aside and doing what they do best – impromptu stand-up comedy. Just by watching this movie you can tell that the people have had the time of their life, playing with propped plasma rifles, having goo smeared all over their faces, and standing in the middle of the most chaotic set Hollywood has known at the time.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is now offering up this classic comedy in 1080p high definition. The transfer is a wonderful upgrade from previous versions to say the least. However, made in the 80s, this film has a number of production shortcomings which are becoming increasingly evident in high definition. First and foremost is the quality of the visual effects and matte paintings. Things that were easily glossed over – or rather washed out – in the previous incarnations are now clearly visible. You will notice matte lines, and translucent imagery at times. In addition, film stock during that period was a mixed bag – and it shows very clearly here. The picture never has that inherent sharpness and complete noise free quality you get to see in movies these days. Instead there are some wickedly harsh contrast fall-offs and grain, sadly dating the film more than it should. All this is, of course, reproduced in this Blu-Ray transfer as it should, without glossing over and without artificial noise reduction to often the image even further. So, in a nutshell, all things considered, I would rate "Ghostbusters" as a pretty good high definition transfer. Not spectacularly so, but certainly good enough to warrant an upgrade from the DVD versions.

Sony has included a DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio track to this disc, making sure the audio presentation is measuring up with today's expectations. With a good frequency response, the track is clear and dynamic with well integrated dialogues. The music could have used a bit of punch in the lower registers for my taste but overall I think the remix has been done well and the lossless audio track fully serves the release.

Which brings us to the bonus materials. On the packaging it may not seem like a whole lot but in fact the disc contains most of the bonus materials that were part o fthe previous Special Edition DVD release. The extras start out with the commentary track featuring director Ivan Reitman, co-producer Joe Medjuck and actor Harold Ramis. It must be noted however, that the Mystery Science Theater-style silhouette that was considered so ground-breaking on DVD has been removed, turning this into a regular audio commentary – though an exceptionally good one.

Instead of the silhouette commentary, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has added a brand new "Slimer Mode" picture-in-picture track however, which is a mix between a video commentary, complete with new interview clips and other footage, as well as interesting trivia tidbits and other gimmicks.

Also among the new things included is the featurette "Ecto1: Resurrecting the Classic Car," with a respective photo gallery, and a Making-Of Featurette for the brand new Ghostbusters video game. BD Live connnectivity is also included, giving you access to things such as Sony's CineChat and additional content that will be made available over the Internet.

Further ,the disc includes most of the featurettes form the DVD, as I mentioned earlier already, all presented in their original standard definition here. Sadly the galleries and trailers of the movie are missing, but other than that this Blu-Ray Disc is pretty complete.

I know that some people will balk at the visual presentation of "Ghostbusters" somewhat, but I feel it is really important to point out that "Ghostbusters" is a product of its time, complete with all the technical flaws and limitations that suddenly come across as shortcomings. When taken into consideration, I feel "Ghostbusters" makes a great high definition showing and is still every bit as fun as it was 25 years ago. Probably even better, as it is a real throwback into the heydays of these 80s comedians at the peak of their craft.