Ghostbusters – Blu Ray Review

gb-br“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.

Spring Breakdown – Blu Ray Review

sb-BRThe key with making slapstick movies about women using female comedians is that it really hasn’t been done before in a lot of ways where it is all out. The key is getting the right people on the boat. “Spring Breakdown”, which originally played Sundance Film Festival this past January, has the right ideas in mind and most of the time is going at such blinding speed that you are definitely into it. It is actually odd that it didn’t play in the theaters since it seems that this would have worked well.

Warner Premiere is taking advantage of the undeniably powerful Blu Ray market but theaters are still an element of status even if it is only done for a few weeks. Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler and Missi Pyle are absolutely great across the board because they play each character with a caricature but you realize how they play into it. They don’t mind playing the losers because there is much more fun in that. The only slight odd duck in the play is Parker Posey as the straight laced character who is trying to keep a Senator’s daughter (played by Amber Tamblyn) on the straight and narrow. The girls definitely get out of control. It is amazing how well Poehler keeps up with the younger girls. She has a rock hard body and plays it against type but her control of her constituents intellectually really works well. Missy Pyle plays the spring break girl who has been running steady for twenty years and looks it. Pyle is a very good chameleon so you keep double taking. But it is those rare comic gems like Poehler’s ad lib “See ya later Leiderhosen” and Dratch’s drunken “Who wants to do me!” that gets the real laughs. The screenplay was written by Dratch and shows that she knows the ideas she wants to portray in a low-end progression. The moral resolution at the end brings to mind the fun 80s sex comedies. They have the right idea but who knows if it is the right time. Some people may not be ready for this type of broad female comedy.

The deleted scenes are just snippets although the pictures on vacation with the three girls is kind of funny, more for Dratch and Poehler simply being hams. The gag reel is mostly of Parker Posey flubbing her lines but there is one gem of Missi Pyle taking gin directly from the spicket. “Spring Breakdown” may be dumb humor but for a good part of the time before it becomes resolution oriented, it is quite effective and freewheeling. Out of 5, I give it a 2.