Sony’s 4K Blu-ray work is meticulous for this long-awaited Ghostbusters‘ sequel debut
It is often remarkable how much Ghostbusters II becomes a structural facsimile of the original. Played side-by-side, time stamped notations as to when the foursome first don their packs (sans Winston) to the airing of their hokey TV commercial, all the way to when they’re imprisoned by a sheepish government bureaucrat, would be nearly identical.
But the sequel is no less kinetic.
Paired with another invigorated pop soundtrack and chirpy score from newcomer Randy Edelman, the Ghostbusters crew is rightfully returned to their glory days within this rich New York story. Script work requires splashes of hard exposition to begin and to wrangle everyone back together, while the rest feels safe letting the full cast hit their own comedic ignition switches.
What Ghostbusters II lacks in writing ingenuity it can make up for with a decade-transitional vibe. At the edges of the hostile computer effects take over, there is solace in goopy slime and ghost compositing which will never age this tipping point feature. A thrust or two of Bobby Brown’s charged theme – behind Ray Parker Jr.’s if still successful – pushes this film which feels inherently comfortable within its own shell. The work done to lay out the paranormal landscape into a functional unreality has been done. Now, it’s delectable comedy.
There is little question the movie is imperfect, outside of the remarkably identical story spine. Despite dipping into the veins of underground mood slime to power the latest spook – a stout undead Hungarian named Vigo – Ghostbusters II is accidentally ironic as it undresses from its own mood. A sense of cataclysmic (some would say Biblical) dread has vanished, and Peter MacNicol’s screen coverage as possessed Vigo flunky Janosz is mammoth – but hysterical.
And really, it’s always the humor. No matter the feature’s mountainous flubs or mistakes, the pairing of a still ambivalent Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), positivity addict Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), grounded realist Winston (Ernie Hudson), and sheltered scientist Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) is unequivocal magic. They’re genuine in their chemistry and perky in their broad forms of comedic delivery.
For comedies, it often only matters if they prove themselves funny. Ghostbusters II does. By staying with amusing subtly, writers Ramis & Aykroyd draw up a movie which is still intelligently buff and repeatedly digestible. The verb “retread” does apply to astonishing levels, but not with the poisonous consequences of other, lesser sequels. Ghostbusters II is smart, just not as smart.
Sony, apparently aware the world is ending on February 14th, 2016, finally issues this sequel to Blu-ray and does so with results fine enough to push Ghostbusters II into a category amongst the premiere catalog titles on the format. As to avoid some level of hyperbole, this follow-up cannot command the visual splendor of prime era Technicolor beauties by default, yet for what it is, Ghostbusters II is some of the purest film-based material to be squeezed into an AVC encode.
There is a confidence displayed in the visual scope of this movie. New cinematographer Michael Chapman ignores the harsher grit and thicker base of textural grain which swept across the first Ghostbusters. The film stock appears of higher quality as well with thinner grain structure at work, letting the compression breathe to replicate a now 4K source with dazzling accuracy.
The slightest sense of mild, low pass filtering feels occasionally evident. Certain colors, like the reds, feel blushed. At the pristine, zero damage source, composite work will drown out the resolution and no amount of restoration will fix it. Same goes for what appears to out of chemical fades during the courtroom sequence.
Take all of that out, which is miniscule in the scope of this HD effort, and the disc produces fidelity down to the tiniest of set trinkets. You can read book titles on Venkman’s apartment shelves. Oil based paint on Vigo’s painting is notable down to brush strokes. Dazzling New York location architecture is vividly rendered. Facial definition soars well past any prior format, in close or with medium shots. It’s unimaginably rare to see such density on this format with a vintage offering outside of 70mm classics.
All of this surrounds a level of clarity and sharpness which seems like pure magic. Aided by a strong sense of contrast and enriched black levels, Ghostbusters II never has a chance to fail with back-end work this good. It’s a movie meant to please given the general cleanliness. By default, this movie is glossier than the predecessor and this Blu-ray is the first time, at home, it finally looks like it should.
Coming down a touch from digital bliss, audio mastering isn’t quite in the same vicinity. There are fun scenes; from the start as some slime bubbles up from a crack, there is a small influx of LFE activity to sell the scale of the problem. However, mixing lacks an aggressiveness. While the source stereo split is evident, any push into the rear channels is somewhat meager. The highlighting moment is underground in an old subway where echoes are played with, even accentuating the scene given the narrative context.
Once proton packs ignite in court, Ghostbusters II will display plenty of sonic energy, slinging beams to the sides and impacts to the rears. The effect is a touch more subtle than the expectation. Where this one shines is music replication, where the richness in the fidelity can soar. During the Statue of Liberty’s march through New York, blaring “Higher,” it feel like a loudspeaker is reflecting from each crowded building. The track has some spunk, but lacks some intangible qualities.
Time is But a Window sits Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd down for a conversation about the sequel, speaking candidly about both success and failures in addition to the long term health of the series. Seven deleted scenes are probably wise cuts, although one deletion does loosely explain the mystery of why Dana (Sigourney Weaver) is frequently pestered by ghouls. A totally late ’80s Bobby Brown music video and some trailers are left, but it would be wrong not to mention the classy Digibook packaging with additional information.
Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.