Movie reviews in 140 characters or less.
“Animated retelling of The Smurfs captures the spirit and tongue-in-cheek humor of the original show…but why set in NY?”
“Ghostbusters”, as part of the lexicon, has always been that kind of concept that was just ripe for making but only comes along once. It was written (as Harold Ramis explained while I was at the Nantucket Film Festival) originally as a vehicle for Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi as another type of “Blues Brothers” film. Sadly that was not to be. Instead it became the conceptual milestone it is because of other players involved. Revisiting it now seems right because the technology is finally able to do what it needed to do back then. That said, in the new Blu Ray transfer, the progression especially the showdown with Gozer at the end looks exceptional. You can tell some of it is set but not much. And, to give props, as some of the filmmaking people involved do on the commentary, Elmer Bernstein’s score gives the film an added weight that most sometimes do not talk about.
In terms of story and performance, that all has been covered before and nit picked. I remember acting out the capturing of the ghost in the beginning when I was 10. Since then I have had a chance, either directly or indirectly to meet Aykroyd, Ramis, director Ivan Reitman and even the elusive Bill Murray. Like some of the story that Ramis related at Nantucket a couple months ago, the team come together when Aykroyd started shoppinmg around the script. Ivan and Ramis came in off Second City and had made “Stripes” with Bill Murray. The aspects of Ramis’ exceptional writing and confluence with structure balanced Aykroyd’s roving imagination.
Some other elements on the disc, like the Slimer Mode, gives an effective in-depth screen-within- screen capture of different set designs concept art, work well. Murray is not featured which has become a mainstay even for this film which should be one of his big successes. There is also the refitting of the original Ectomobile which when I saw it parked outside E3. I didn’t think it was the original but indeed it was. This refit shop rebuilt it from the ground up which is detailed on the disc. They used as much of the original materials as possible but souped it when it fit into the original design. This made sense for Sony as they were prepping this for release along with a video game (which we also review) in addition to a possible third Ghostbusters film.
Aykroyd had been pitching Sony on the aspect of doing a CG Ghostbusters since the technology was there. A young executive probably said “Why don’t we do a video game?” and then of course “Why not do a movie since all the prep work is already started?” It was simply a co-existence of general paths converging.
The aspects of the video game especially with Ramis and Aykroyd writing it give it a sense of style and consistency. The aspects and interaction obviously make it the best adaptation so far in terms of that kind of material as the small behind-the-scenes interviews suggest.
The “Ecto 1 Gallery” is an extension of the refit material which is fine but seems almost to be grasping at extras which aren’t necessarily there. The video game trailer bases a lot of its fuel on the personas of the original cast which come through in a way that couldn’t be captured live action as they have all gotten older.
The “Scene Cemetery” has some old bits in low resolution from the DVD release although the best moment is a little comic bit with Aykroyd and Murray with Bill recreating his golf character from “Caddyshack” as a homeless guy on the edge of Central Park. This pair alone are great but not enough for a movie on its own…but still great fun.
The older material (some from the DVD and some from the Criterion laserdisc) are still interesting to watch. The original 1984 featurette shows the story angle that they building on especially with the comedy team. The special effects featurette made in 1999 for the original DVD release has Richard Edlund actually making reference to Dan Aykroyd’s original script which had the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man emerging from the East River which didn’t make much effects sense in terms of budget. Harold Ramis was instrumental in helping hone down the budget of Dan’s original idea to make it doable for 5 million dollars total budget instead of the original 40 million it might have cost.
The angle comparisons and storyboard comparisons seem to be lifted from the laserdisc but are still very interesting. The angle comparison uses some pencil sketches for the effects which are quite literally at times animation. The storyboard are pre-motion animatics but are interesting in many facets in terms that the actual representations within the structure are not the actors who are playing them. This is truly a movie made on set as the storyboards don’t give credence to the eventual blocking which is, at times, inspired.
In terms of the trailers on the disc, there is none for the original “Ghostbusters” which I sometimes miss. The one for Adam Sandler’s “Zohan” is pretty funny (and ironic) since it was originally discussed about him becoming a Ghostbuster along with Chris Farley and David Spade back in the 90s.
In conclusion, it is great seeing “Ghostbusters” on Blu Ray but overall the remaster doesn’t look a whole lot different than the DVD release in terms of popping more of the elements (which will eventually have to be done for a 3D home release). The extras have possibility but a lot are from previous releases (and the disc was obviously done to coincide with the PS3 release of the video game). While the game is exciting, this rush to pair it might have been rushed in the overall scheme. Despite this, the BR is still great to see and hear. Because of all of this, out of 5, I give it a 3.