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After a man is shot and dies, he -- as a ghost -- teams with a psychic to uncover the truth behind his murder, and to save his sweetheart from a similar fate.
For more about Ghost and the Ghost Blu-ray release, see Ghost Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on July 12, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Goldwyn, Rick Aviles, Vincent Schiavelli
Director: Jerry Zucker
» See full cast & crew
Ghost Blu-ray Review
A unique tale of devotion after death, the film is more than we've come to expect from the romance genre.
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, July 12, 2009
I'll be the first to admit I'm not usually a fan of romantic films. As with most married men, I'm willing to sit down and soak up the latest romance offering at my wife's calling, but I've never picked a romantic movie in place of the latest explosion-laden action film when given the choice at my local rental store. I know tales of lost love are a guilty pleasure to some fellows out there (I have a close friend who takes a lot of heat for being one of those guys), so I mean no disrespect to any guys that fall into the camp that love the genre, but I rarely find much value in the sappy, tear-jerking elements of most romance films. Naturally, my wife has the same off-putting reaction to films such as Predator, Die Hard and countless other action films I hold in high regard, so we each accept the fact that we will continue to agree to disagree when it comes to film genres.
Ghost on the other hand, is one of those rare romance films I've been able to enjoy over the years. Blending comedy, action and drama, Ghost never descends into the generic, boredom-inducing depths that characterize so many other entries in the romance genre and even manages to remain a fresh experience nearly twenty years after its original release.
Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) is a high-level bank executive who recently moved in with his girlfriend Molly (Demi Moore). Knowing everything is going well in his life, he has a feeling something bad is right around the corner and expresses his concerns to Molly, who in turn suggests they get married. Sadly, their dreams of a life together are dashed when Sam is shot dead in a botched mugging on their way home from a play. Unwilling to leave Molly alone in her grief, Sam's spirit rejects a calling from heaven and he finds himself living among countless other spirits with their own reasons for delaying the afterlife. Existing among the living, but unable to communicate with anyone aside from a goofy psychic named Oda Mae (Whoopi Goldberg), Sam unknowingly stumbles onto a plot surrounding his murder. Fearing for Molly's safety, Sam enlists Oda Mae's help in tracking down those responsible for his death and begins his own game of cat and mouse from beyond the grave.
Oddly enough, this is probably the fifth time I've seen the film, but my first viewing in around ten years. As a result, I never had the opportunity to see it on DVD, but remember enjoying the film on several occasions during the VHS era. I'm only mentioning this because I'd completely forgotten the charming nature of Ghost and was delighted at the opportunity to watch the film several years later from a critical standpoint.
If you're among the sparse crowd that was never been introduced to Ghost, you owe it to yourself to give the film a shot. Director Jerry Zucker made a name for himself with the comedic gem Airplane!, but Ghost was the first film where he was given the opportunity to show his range of talent by dabbling in different genres. Switching on the fly between thrilling action, hilarious comedy, and edge-of-your-seat tension, Zucker took what could have been a contrived story and turned it into a film that can be enjoyed by fans of any genre. Don't let the Blu-ray cover fool you into thinking this is merely a steamy romance production with the Righteous Brothers playing in the background, since that's only a fraction of the total experience.
Fortunately, the acting held up equally well over the years, with Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg turning in performances that have a tendency to steal the show (it's no surprise Goldberg landed a similar role in Sister Act only two years after winning the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her part in Ghost). The scene where Sam spews sarcastic remarks while Oda Mae swindles a client is downright hilarious, and Swayze's musical rendition of Henry the 8th (meant to annoy Oda Mae into helping him communicate with Molly) is one of many classic moments that brought a smile to my face. Tony Goldwyn and Demi Moore aren't nearly as memorable, but they still nail their respective roles despite the lack of emotional range required of their characters. If you're in need of a break from the tear-jerking underpinnings of most romance classics, this is the film that broke the mold.
Ghost Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the AVC codec (at an average bitrate of 33Mbps), Ghost looks the best it ever has and probably ever will. Fine object detail rarely approaches the levels we've seen on the best Blu-ray has to offer, but considering the film is rapidly approaching it's twentieth anniversary, I was pleasantly surprised with the level of clarity on display. Facial textures aren't readily apparent in most close-ups and distance shots of the city streets look somewhat less distinct, but I was happy to see a fine level of film grain throughout the production, which confirms a lack of DNR application in the preparation of the transfer. Colors appear entirely natural, as we witness the drab, dingy characteristics of the New York streets, or the warm glow of Molly's studio loft. Continuing the trend of positives, black levels are appropriately deep during daytime and nighttime sequences, allowing contrast to display excellent differentiation between the dark and light areas of the screen, and I never detected the presence of edge halos or digital artifacting.
Despite the strengths of the transfer, there are two items that don't hold up entirely well. First, the few scenes that contain superimposed "ghosts" walking around in the real world possess outlines that don't look all that impressive in 1080p. This is merely a limitation in the effects available back in 1990, and not related to the transfer, but it still reflects a byproduct of making the jump to high-definition. Second, I noticed two scenes where the picture exhibited some jittering as the camera panned. If you watch the office sequence around the six minute mark, or the beginning of the funeral scene, you'll notice the effect I'm talking about (though it's worth noting it was only a minor distraction in my opinion).
Ghost Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The primary audio offering on the disc is a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track in the native language of English. This isn't exactly a hyperactive film, but the audio track still contains some interesting elements. The subway scene early in the film is a perfect opportunity to hear how proficient the audio experience can occasionally be, but you shouldn't expect the track to offer much more than crisp dialogue, well-balanced music, and several fleeting examples of rear surround effects. We all know apples don't develop into oranges over the course of 19 years, so fans shouldn't expect the audio experience to be a complete revelation with the transition to lossless audio. If you can accept the dated sound of the musical score and effects, you'll love the overall audio experience ("Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers never sounded this good).
Ghost Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The package of extras included on the disc isn't extensive, but still includes an interesting sampling of brief featurettes related to the film. In addition to a photo gallery, theatrical trailer (in high definition), and commentary track with Jerry Zucker (director) and Bruce Joel Rubin (writer), we have the following supplements:
Cinema's Great Romances (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 19:45 min): This segment focuses on the American Film Institute's top romance picks in the history of cinema. Film historians discuss such films as Roman Holiday, Love Story, A Place in the Sun, Barefoot in the Park, Grease and many more (including Ghost), with clips of the respective films shown in the background. If you're having a tough time thinking up a list of romantic films you'd like to see, give this supplement a shot.
Ghost Stories: The Making of a Classic (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 13:06 min): The history of the Ghost film production is analyzed through interviews with Jerry Zucker, Bruce Rubin, Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. I found it interesting to watch everyone reflect on the film after so many years have gone by (of note, this supplement was completed in 2006).
Inside the Paranormal (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 8:35 min): Your enjoyment of this feature will depend on whether or not you believe in psychic abilities. Several psychics and proclaimed spiritual mediums are interviewed about elements from the film in the context of a third dimension between life and death.
Alchemy of a Love Scene (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 6:16 min): As the title implies, the filmmakers and primary actors discuss the infamous pottery love sequence that's defined the film over the years.
Ghost Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I'm somewhat surprised with the critical praise that's been heaped on Ghost for the romantic aspects of the production. There definitely is a love story at the heart of the film and you can expect a fair share of romantic elements throughout its runtime, but it almost feels like a disservice to label Ghost as an entry in the romance genre. I know I'm going out on a limb by saying this, but I'd recommend the film to male and female viewers alike, since I believe it offers a little something special for fans of any genre. Taken as a whole, the new Blu-ray edition of Ghost offers a strong technical presentation despite the age of the production and I'd expect long-time fans will be more than happy with the effort Paramount has put into this release.
Ghost: Other Editions
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