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Paramount Home Video presents
Ghost (Blu-ray) (1990)

“Molly, you in danger, girl.”
- Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: January 05, 2009

Stars: Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg
Other Stars: Tony Goldwyn
Director: Jerry Zucker

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (adult situations, language, violence)
Run Time: 02h:06m:39s
Release Date: December 30, 2008
UPC: 097361305042
Genre: romance

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- C+AA B+

DVD Review

Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) and Molly Jensen (Demi Moore) are deeply in love. Now sharing a New York City loft, things couldn’t be better for the young couple. After leaving a play, the pair is held up at gunpoint. Not content to just turn over his money, Sam is fatally shot, and left in limbo between heaven and hell. Pained by his situation, Sam tries to stay as close to Molly as he can, but when he discovers that her life’s in jeopardy, desperation takes over. Enter psychic Oda Mae Grown (Whoopi Goldberg), a woman who thinks of herself as a fraud until she begins communicating with Sam. With the help of Oda Mae, Sam learns the truth of who was behind his murder, and tries to achieve a sense of justice before his soul reaches its final destination.

Perhaps it’s the jokes at its expense during the 17 years since the theatrical release that have diminished the overall effectiveness. Regardless, the magic just isn’t there anymore. The same holds true with the screening of this newest DVD, as many of the performances (including Oscar-winner Goldberg’s) seemunnatural and full of forced, melodramatic overacting. One of the aspects that remains appealing is the blending of such a wide array of genres. While romantic comedies and dramatic fantasies aren’t rare, director Jerry Zucker’s romantic comedy/horror/sci-fi/fantasy/drama leaves very few genres untouched. It’s often quite messy to infuse so many themes, but the resulting overall tone is far from dated and actually set a precedent for many other films that followed.

Despite the missing magic, there are still many factors (including a trio of Oscars) that still make this ghost story appealing. Sam’s murder is truly gripping, edge-of-your-seat stuff, leaving you gasping that the main character is, essentially, killed during the first reel. By now, we know that this death is essential to the movie’s story and we’ll be seeing plenty more of Swayze, but it is still pretty shocking. Much of the afterlife imagery that Sam sees is extremely spooky as well, with some of the ghouls playing the biggest part in the PG-13 rating. There’s even some remaining shock value in the big reveal of the villain’s identity. The overall look of the film is still its biggest strong point, though. Adam Greenberg’s cinematography is top-notch, crafting memorable visuals of exterior New York City and interior settings (Oda Mae’s house and the subway among them) as well. The unique lighting and effects used to project Sam’s after-life point-of-view do a fine job separating the viewer from the world of the dead and that of the living, never leaving us in doubt as to what we’re witnessing at any given time.

It’s nearly impossible to complete this discussion without mentioning the infamous pottery/love-making scene. This is still one of the most erotic set pieces put to film, only further enhancing Swayze and Moore’s sex symbol status at the time. The Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody became a pop culture classic as a result of its presence in this scene, and rightfully so. If the rest of the film can’t quite be deemed a classic, this sequence will go down among the most memorable in motion picture history.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This new, HD 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation gives us crisper, sharper images than ever before, while shadow and black levels are spot-on. The color scheme is richer and bolder, with accurate flesh tones. Lighting plays a huge part when the spirit world crosses into ours, and the handling of these visual effects is perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the HD upgrade.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, French, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The new Dolby TrueHD mix opens the sound field up with excellent use of the surrounds, including quite a few directional effects during the more fantastical sequences. From the opening titles on, the supernatural aspects are even creepier than before thanks to this boisterous track’s dynamic range and deeper, more aggressive bass. The dialogue still holds up, remaining crystal clear and easy to understand.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Documentaries
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Jerry Zucker and writer Bruce Joel Rubin
Packaging: standard Blu-ray packaging
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: Fans of the film will love the extras collection, even though they’re the same supplements from the 2007 DVD edition. These include a new documentary, Ghost Stories: The Making of a Classic. This 13-minute piece uses clips from the film and interviews with the cast and crew to give us an in-depth look at the shoot. It covers everything from the casting, different iterations of the script, and performances, with a few funny anecdotes thrown in for good measure.

Inside the Paranormal gives us an eight-minute look at what real psychics think of the film. We hear from spiritual medium/psychic Shelley Duffy, psychic medium Laurie Campbell, medium George E. Dalzell, and spiritual medium James Van Praagh. While not for the skeptical, those with more open minds will enjoy hearing them speak about their “gifts” and their ability to relate to the Oda Mae Brown character.

Alchemy of a Love Scene is all about the infamous pottery scene, and this six-minute segment covers as much as it can in such a short time. We hear from the cast and crew, but it’s most interesting to hear from the principals involved, Moore and Swayze.

Cinema’s Great Romances is the lengthiest (almost 20 minutes) and arguably best extra. This goes beyond Ghost, though, instead touching on 14 of the films included on AFI’s “100 Years…100 Passions” list, via clips from these pictures.

Also here are the film’s theatrical trailer and an audio commentary track with director Jerry Zucker and writer Bruce Joel Rubin. This is still interesting material, with Rubin doing much of the talking, and going over much of the screenwriting process. There’s also a photo gallery to finish things up.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

The blockbuster smash and Best Picture nominee Ghost isn’t as effective as it was 18 years ago, but it is still an unforgettable cinematic experience. Powered by an award-winning screenplay and whimsical cinematography, there’s no denying its significant place in movie history. The film’s Blu-ray debut could have benefited by some new HD extras, but the improved audio and video make this a no-brainer, especially for its rabid fans.


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