There have been a recent rash of double dips in the DVD market, some of which add the most minor of content just to reap the profits from die-hard fans. Jaws, The Jerk, and Underworld come to mind. Now Ghostbusters, in all of its brilliance, is sadly stuck on that list.
That's not a rip on the films in any way. Ghostbusters remains a classic, with energy, truly special special effects, and one of the best groups of actors ever tossed together into a comedy. It's proven itself to fight against time, and nothing it ever going to change that. It's one of the funniest movies ever made. (**** out of *****)
The sequel is, as always, a lesser attempt. That's not to say it's without merit. There are genuine laughs to be had. It just needs to reach for them a little deeper. The soundtrack doesn't work as well, though the special effects are even better this time, with some wild designs. It's a little lighter in tone (if that's possible), and oddly, it suffers for it. (*** out of *****)
*Click the links in the capsule reviews for a full look at both films.
There is a reason to pick this dual disc set up. The audio and video is truly a step up. The first film has undergone a color increase, really bringing out the flesh tones and green glow of Slimer in the early going. Their beams from the proton packs are brilliant in their sharpness. Black levels have undergone adjustment. Grain and compression run about equal with the first DVD release, yet the colors hide those flaws a little better this time out. (****)
The return of the Ghostbusters features all the above improvements. That's on top of a transfer that was almost perfect to begin with. Detail has been emphasized, mostly due to better contrast. Grain has been all but eliminated. It's a shame the first film can't look this fantastic. (*****)
Where the sequel features the best audio upgrade, the original received the best audio mix. The 1999 release also featured 5.1, just not with this much care or deep bass. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man sequence is a perfect example, the marshmallow spokesperson's footsteps reverberating around the room. Cars crash, proton packs are fired, and separation is a major improvement. (****)
That can only mean the sequel is disappointing, and it is. Though it's an upgrade from plain stereo, this 5.1 track is overdone. Bass is overwhelming, and simply not natural. The rears find little work. It's cleaner for sure, but not as it should be. (***)
It's embarrassing to admit for a studio, yet this new "Deluxe Gift Set" actually has FEWER special features. The discs come in separate slim line cases, crammed in the box with a short yet enjoyable booklet. If you can manage to remove all of this viewing without damaging everything, congratulations. You've just performed a miracle.
The video commentary, the most enjoyable aspect on the initial release, is included. Unfortunately, someone thought it would be nice to remove the video portion. The three speakers used to be super-imposed as silhouettes (think Mystery Science Theater), just not on this new set. The commentary itself is the same.
There are two special effects featurettes, one running 10-minutes, the other around 15. Also included is a 1984 promotional feature. Certain cast members look back at the film in their own words, including Reitman and Ramis. There are also a few multi-angle special effects features. This was all including originally.
What's missing then? Subtitled production notes that ran along with the movie, trailers, and a trivia game. The menus are the same for the most part, with less audio. It's much easier to navigate this time out. (**)
Considering Ghostbusters 2 didn't have anything attached to it, anything is an improvement. The pan & scan version has been cut (thankfully), and two episodes of the animated series based off the films is included. One is The Real Ghostbusters and the other is Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters. These two episodes pick up right after each of the films. The menu was lazily re-done to match up with the first film, just replacing Stay Puft with the walking Statue of Liberty. (**)
The question then, is this set worth the price? Considering it can be found for less than $15, certainly. If you own the originals, it's only beneficial if you're dying to see the cartoon series again (could this be a testing ground for the entire series?), or you're a video and audiophile. The extra booklet included, while nice, doesn't make the set feel any more necessary.
*Side note: The cover box claims the original film is pan & scan. It's not. That's a really obvious typo someone in the editing department will likely lose their job over.