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Ghost – Paramount Presents (Blu-ray Review)

Paramount Presents returns this month with two new editions of classics from Jerry Zucker that helped launch the 1980s and 1990s decades. One of which is the romance phenomenon that was Ghost. The Patrick Swayze / Demi Moore paranormal romantic drama nabbed Whoopi Goldberg an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and Bruce Joel Rubin some Oscar hardware for Best Original Screenplay. It was also up for three more awards for that year, including Best Picture. Maybe hard to realize today or appreciate, but Ghost made over HALF A BILLION DOLLARS at the box office in 1990 ($217 million of that in the United States off of a $12 million opening). Ghost was everywhere and a staple in pop culture. Everybody knows the lines, the clay scene, everything. Now you can look at it again with a brand new 4K transfer when it arrives on the Paramount Presents label featuring a new interview with the director, Jerry Zucker. Pre-order now to secure your copy for its release date on July 21.

Film

Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) is a banker, Molly Jensen (Demi Moore) is an artist, and the two are madly in love. However, when Sam is murdered by friend and corrupt business partner Carl Bruner (Tony Goldwyn) over a shady business deal, he is left to roam the earth as a powerless spirit. When he learns of Carl’s betrayal, Sam must seek the help of psychic Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg) to set things right and protect Molly from Carl and his goons.

Looking back at Ghost in prep for this review just shined a light on what a crazy movie this was. That it all just came together AND that people liked it is an undersell. The fact that this is a romance movie by way of mystery, thriller and paranormal is a lot to intake. Stepping further, thinking the director of Airplane!, Top Secret! and Ruthless People was the perfect guy to bring it to life was even crazier. It didn’t just come together and do well, the film became an absolute phenomenon that people don’t remember or wouldn’t believe you if you told this today. I mentioned it made over half a billion dollars, but do you realize that was over one hundred million more than the film we talk about being a game changing phenomenon just a year prior – Batman. A fact that makes you do a double take like when you discover Mamma Mia! made more money at the box office than Iron Man did in 2008.

Ghost was massive thirty years ago. It was instantly iconic. The pottery making love scene is such a historic moment that its the first thing people think of when the title comes up and it was countless times parodied in pop culture. That’s when you know you have something special. In addition to that scene, the Righteous Brothers “Unchained Melody” became a popular song again. The classic song now gets widely associated with the film, that scene. Success didn’t just end at the dollar, the film was nominated for five Academy Awards and took home two of the bigger ones. They say the Academy doesn’t nominate popular films for Oscars, but this could be argued was “the people’s” film that year.

The film itself holds together pretty well. Its aged a little corny in some areas, but mostly holds together strong and succeeds in tugging on strong emotional strings vital to its success. Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg are all quite enjoyable and have a triad of amazing chemistry that keeps any scene afloat. And in the end, its the odd choice of Jerry Zucker that takes the film to its next level. There are comedic tactics used in clever ways with the camera and at times some slapstick tactics provided to get this film to relax and be at ease with itself. Without Zucker, this film could have been a depressing slug. With its strong script, Ghost would have worked regardless, but its the key picks of Jerry Zucker and Whoopi Goldberg to add something that possibly wasn’t there to carve out a greater success.

This paranormal romance still works today as a nice, heartfelt and genuine adult film that sadly would probably struggle to get to the theaters nowadays (As an original. I’m sure a remake with the “brand” name on it would get the go ahead). A sign of much changed times, Ghost made over half a billion in 1990, would probably not even make 100 million today. Sad statistic as it is, I love the fact that a film like Ghost could make that much money, giving some more variety and showcasing viewers choosing a varied, healthier plate of film types when they choose the multiplex as opposed to nothing but tentpoles all the time as we have today.

Video

Additional screencaps appear following the paid Amazon Associates link at the end of this review.

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Ghost returns to Blu-ray, featuring a new 4K restoration supervised by director Jerry Zucker. It still retains the choice to present it in 1.78:1 as did the prior release. The image looks like it has had a respectable amount of clean up to it, with a crisp, clean look that does retain a grain structure and features strong texture and detail. The visual effects hold up pretty decently, if even obvious in some certain areas.

Depth: There is some terrific spacing here in the frame and a nice, clear and concise depth of field in its presence. Interesting enough is how you get the depth and spacing when the ghost effects are in place and see plenty of distance behind. Motion is cinematic and natural with no real issues regarding motion jitter or blur.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and close on a natural appearance. Details and textures remain in the darker areas and no crushing problems existed in this viewing.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are pretty bold and feel quite strong even in it most natural areas. Flashier colors on fabrics and upholstery has a nice pop on it.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural, consistent and feel full in their color from start to finish of the film. Facial features like make-up covering acne, stubble, freckles, sweat, wrinkles and more come through pretty clear in close up shots and majority of the medium ones pulled further out.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, English Audio Description, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, German, French, Japanese

Dynamics: Ghost carries over its Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track from the previous release. Its a mix with a lighter touch that I feel could have brought a bit more impact. Mainly, some of the music feels a bit light to the touch. The mix is overall fine, I just felt the need to turn the volume up a bit to give a bit better effect.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension: It strikes when its expected and required too, but there are some areas where it feels the subwoofer could have provided a stronger presence or a bigger strike.

Surround Sound Presentation: This track hangs around the front a bit more, but does have some fun in the rear speaker when the time calls for it. Sound travel is accurate and engaging.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. Plenty prominent in the mix.

Extras

Ghost, in first pressing, comes with a slip cover that folds open to reveal the original poster art for the film. Once again bonus features have been removed for this “improved” edition, only adding a brief new interview. No longer here are the Cinema’s Greatest Romances and Inside the Paranormal featurettes.

Audio Commentary

  • By director Jerry Zucker and writer Bruce Joel Rubin

Filmmaker Focus: Director Jerry Zucker on Ghost (HD, 6:24) – A brief reflection on taking the job and his thoughts on the story, script and characters/actors in the film, the special effects

Ghost Stories: The Making of a Classic (SD, 13:06) – Jerry Zucker, Bruce Joel Rubin, Jane Musky, Patrick Swayze, Whoopi Goldberg and Demi Moore (Archival from the set of Nothing But Trouble) tell the story of making the film.

Alechemy of a Love Scene (SD, 6:16) – This is all about all the decisions surrounding the famous clay pottery wheel scene. “Its not about jumping someone’s bones that make a love scene” says Patrick Swayze as they discuss how they went with a simple “Just go with with it” moment by him and Demi Moore to craft an iconic love scene.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:30)

Summary

Ghost remains a touching movie. And in the short supply of Patrick Swayze films we have left behind, one of his best too. It offers plenty of emotion, to go with strong performances and good visual effects. Paramount rereleases it on Blu-ray with a good, clean new 4K transfer and the same audio it had before. The new interview is pretty fluffy generic ho-hum and the cuts made to the bonus features from the previous edition doesn’t appear too dire as other releases. If you don’t own Ghost already, grab this one.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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