Overcompensating and certainly curious, Paul Fieg resets Ghostbusters’ lore with only a fizzling pop rather than a bang. A few moments work – particularly some of the action which features plenty of pizazz – but anything in-between lumbers and chokes on the writing. Political pandering led into the release and curiously, featured into it. Now months later, no one seems to care. It all waned because the end product wasn’t worth arguing over. Those hoping for more from the extended cut? You’re left out too. The extra 20 minutes on the Blu-ray spill out admittedly slightly cleaner edits, but also obvious deleted scenes material and needless filler.
Although a slight magenta push to the flesh tones is noted in the first act, this problem quickly fades. In place is a natural, gorgeously rendered color spectrum. HDR effects add the needed sizzle to proton streams and ghostly auras. Even New York’s skyline comes alive, absolutely beautiful during the nighttime finale, despite a spire of ghostly material emanating from the center.
Finished at 2K, Ghostbusters isn’t a fidelity showcase, although the level of high frequency material in close or during city aerials earns merit. Strong, firm, consistent detail suffers only a handful of missteps, with faults levied on the original cinematography, not this transfer.
A few rounds with digital noise sit in the background. It’s generally inconsequential. Black levels handle shadows, avoiding many instances of crush while still hiding any other problem spots of noise. Vivid contrast is given life by this format with great control as to not blot out detail while keep depth high.
Bright, saturated, and contrast-y, Sony’s Ghostbusters Blu-ray deserves to be demo material. It’s not. Instead, it’s a muddy, sometimes even murky presentation, replete with inexcusable problems. While the color adds zest to ghosts and proton streams, flesh tones succumb to an ungainly, radioactive-like neon. Watching Ghostbusters on Blu-ray compares to watching something on a TV in Best Buy’s demo room, with the tint a few notches off.
Sunlight blasts through windows and blots out any semblance of detail. Contrast runs hot, which is one descriptor. Retina burning is another. Some Sony-specific problems from last year with Interview and Fury return too. Black crush takes out shadows regularly. Shadows destroy the sense of natural depth, losing nuance for pockets of undefined darkness.
If those problems come down to post-production – although the theatrical presentation wasn’t near this gaudy – then fine. The Blu-ray still chokes on lackluster encoding. A bright red sweater worn by Wiig reveals artifacts. Orange stripes on the jumpsuits call to the compression, exposing further concerns. During some dimmer scenes, noise creeps in, swarming around the actresses.
On the better end, detail renders fairly well, if not hit by the above problems. Close-ups resolve definition and the ghosts – with their glowing designs – do pop from the screen. New York exteriors clean up well too, particularly when the ghosts begin their escape. Night doesn’t impact the city’s skyline.
On a final note is aspect ratio. Ghostbusters is among the strangest. 3D effects pop out of the faux 2.35:1 frame. That effect stays in the 2D presentation. However, the height of the frame (along with the use of those effects) varies in consistency. Sometimes height suggests 1.85:1; effects hit an invisible barrier. Elsewhere, they keep going past. During a key final scene, the matte opens fully for a minute or so, then back down to 2.35:1 for the epilogue. Weird.
Sony’s new trick? Holding the Atmos/7.1 mix to the 4K UHD disc only, then fitting the standard Blu-ray with a downsampled 5.1. Eww. The result is an inferior audio mix, and that’s clear without having access to the 4K release. While stereos wrap up the front soundstage, surrounds limp around, only used when absolutely necessary. When utilized, it’s fun. Proton streams swirl about, with ghost movement matching the on-screen effects. All of this surround activity sounds dimmed and less effective than needed though.
Dynamic range earns criticism too. Paranormal activity perks up the subwoofer, without cranking the low-end. When battling a ghost at a concert, the music hardly registers. The final chapter brings up a handful of decent strikes (giant ghost Rowan especially) but the major battle sequence becomes distracted without directionality. With some fantastic blockbuster audio mixes this year, Ghostsbusters isn’t near their league (at least in this configuration).
On the UHD, the rear speakers open up, swaying proton streams back and forth with fantastic energy. Low-end effects contain superb power, especially with those same streams. The ghostbusting equipment demands the necessary power.
Two commentaries on a new release is an unusual offering anymore. Paul Fieg and writer Kate Dippold come together on track one, with track two bringing back Fieg to chat with his various department heads. Two gag reels combine for 15 minutes of goofs, certainly lengthy. Apply the same, “this seems really long” mentality to the line-o-rama (labeled jokes-a-plenty), six parts forming together for 34-minutes. Four deleted scenes and 11 extended also breach the half hour mark when bundled.
A few EPKs jump into action with Meet the Team and Chris Hemsworth is Kevin. The Ghosts of Ghostbusters nears that EPK level too, but has some insight into the design process. Throwing back to the original film is Visual Effects 30 Years Later, spending 15-minutes to discuss industry progression and Fieg’s slight aversion to CG, even if the wealth of green screens in these features says otherwise. A five minute peek into the process of creating slime is funny, closing out the video end of the bonuses with a photo gallery left standing.
Simple, baffling, and wasteful, the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot falls apart under any scrutiny while on the hunt for nostalgia.
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