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Featured Blu-ray and DVD Review: Ghostbusters

October 23rd, 2016

Ghostbusters - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray, or 4K Combo Pack
Video on Demand: Theatrical Cut or Extended Edition

Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters felt like a mistake from the very beginning. It is a remake of one the great comedies of all time. Then the first trailer came out and it was complete garbage. However, the international trailer was actually relatively good and the writer / director, Paul Feig, hadn’t made a bad movie since Unaccompanied Minors. Does this film live up to the original? If not, is it as good as the average Paul Feig movie? Or were the haters right on this one?

The Movie

I’m reviewing the extended edition, although I have seen both. Strangely there are some jokes in the theatrical version that are cut from the extended version.

The film begins as we tour the Aldridge Mansion with the tour guide giving little tidbits about the history of the mansion and its owner, Sir Aldridge. This includes a spooky tale about Sir Aldridge’s eldest daughter, Gertrude, who murdered the servants and the family locked her in the basement. He mentions that after the house was sold, the new owners began to hear noises from the basement, they had the door sealed. At this point a candle stick falls over. As the tour moves on, we see a strange device under the furniture. At the end of the day, when the tour guide is getting ready to leave, we learn the candlestick is actually a trick he pulls to make the tour scary. However, we soon see an actual supernatural event.

The next day, we meet Erin Gilbert, a professor at Columbia University. She’s up for tenure and has a great chance at getting it. However, while she’s preparing for class, a gentleman, Ed Mulgrave, comes in to ask her about her book about ghosts hoping she can help with the haunting at the Aldridge Mansion. At first Erin denies even knowing what he’s talking about, but becomes quite upset when she learns her former partner, Abby Yates, has reprinted the book. Erin knows that if her colleagues learn that she wrote about ghosts, she will have no chance at getting tenure, so she rushes off to talk to Abby.

It has been a long time since Erin and Abby last met and their reunion isn’t exactly a happy one. Erin is upset that Abby is endangering her tenure, while Abby is upset that Erin abandoned their work. Abby completely dismisses Erin’s concerns and even points out she has a new partner, Jillian Holtzmann, who is an engineer and an expert in experimental particle physics. Erin gets no where with Abby, until she mentions Ed Mulgrave’s visit and the Aldridge Mansion. Abby then agrees to take down the book, if Erin makes the introductions. Erin agrees, not expecting anything... however, we saw at the beginning that there’s something there.

Unfortunately for the three women, they aren’t able to get hard enough evidence and their claims cause them to be fired from their various jobs. Therefore, they decide to go into business together. They also hire the dumbest receptionist ever, Kevin. He was the only applicant.

Meanwhile we meet Patty Tolan, a subway worker. While on the job, she meets a really creepy dude. When the creepy dude wanders onto the tracks, Patty follows him only to see one of the strange devices we saw earlier and a ghost. We soon learn the creepy dude is Rowan, a former scientist now working a menial job at the Mercado Hotel. He plans to use his devices to get revenge on a world he thinks bullies him.

Patty sees one of the Ghostbusters’ fliers and heads over hoping to get some answers. Things go... okay... ish. It’s the first field test for Holtzmann’s equipment and, while Erin and Abby aren’t able to capture a ghost, it is a good proof of concept for the gear. It works, it just needs more power. Furthermore, Patty is so impressed by the women that she wants to join them and fight ghosts. She does have a huge amount of knowledge about the history of New York City and that will come in handy when busting ghosts. And there will soon be a lot of ghosts that need busting.

Whoever created the first trailer for Ghostbusters needs to be fired. It’s rare for a movie to have such a wide gap between the quality of the trailer and the quality of the movie. The trailer was atrocious and the movie is one of the funniest wide releases of the year. Yes, it isn’t as good as the original was, but no one was expecting that. I would also argue that it is not as funny as Paul Feig’s previous movie was, but I consider Spy a classic. This film is buoyed by an amazing cast, including all four women. It was no surprise that Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy were great, as they’ve been in a number of amazing comedies. I don’t watch SNL so this is the first time I’ve seen Leslie Jones in something major and she’s excellent. I previously said I hadn’t seen Kate McKinnon in anything, but that turns out to not be true. She was in The Big Gay Sketch Show and her portrayal of Fitzwilliam was the best part of that show.

There are a few elements holding the film back. Firstly, there’s a little too much improv. This is common in a lot of comedies that come out these days, but while the individual riffs are funny, they tend to cause scenes to go on too long and that gets in the way of the overall plot and structure. There seems to be a lot of connective tissue missing from this film. Finally, the villain isn’t as engaging as he should be and his big plan is the weakest part of the movie. Without a great villain, there isn’t much of an adventure for the Ghostbusters to go on.

On the other hand, there is one aspect of this movie that is a step above the original. It looks fantastic. The film cost more than $150 million to make and you can really see it on screen. Granted, the original has some really iconic imagery, including Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, but I would argue this film just looks better. If you haven’t seen the original in a while, you know the special effects haven’t aged particularly well and nostalgia keeps it propped up in that regard.

The Extras

There are a ton of extras on the DVD / Blu-ray, starting with two audio commentary tracks. The first is with Paul Feig and his co-writer, Katie Dippold. The second is called “Filmmaker Commentary”... aren’t the writers and director considered filmmakers? Anyhoo, this track is a lot more technical in nature. Both can be watched on either version of the movie.

Ghostbusters is an improv heavy movie, so it should come as no surprise that there are a ton of deleted / extended / alternative scenes / lines on the DVD / Blu-ray. Every thing that falls under this umbrella has a total running time of 80 minutes. That’s not a typo. Meet the Team is an 8-minute featurette with Paul Feig talking about the characters and how he cast the parts. The Ghosts of Ghostbusters is a 14-minute look how the designs for the various ghosts were created for the film. There’s a lot of CGI in this film, but there are also a lot of practical effects to back it up. Visual Effects: 30 Years Later is a 15-minute look at the special effects from this film compared to what they had to work with while making the original. Slime Time is a five-minute featurette on the slime and how they created it. The final featurette is on Kevin’s performance as Kevin. Add it up and you have over two hours of extras.

The Verdict

Ghostbusters isn’t as good as the original film and it isn’t as good as Paul Feig’s best work. That said, it is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen all year and the DVD, Blu-ray, or 4K Combo Pack is loaded with extras. It is easily worth picking up and worth the Pick of the Week title I gave it when it first came out.

Filed under: Video Review, Ghostbusters, Ed Begley, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Paul Feig, Zach Woods, Katie Dippold, Kate McKinnon, Neil Casey