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Ghost Town Print E-mail
Friday, 26 December 2008
Image"I see dead people."  Just kidding.  Wrong movie.  But much the same, "Ghost Town" is all about seeing dead people.  The screenplay is written by David Koepp, but it is Ricky Gervais that shines in this film.  There is no other comic actor that could have pulled off this role.  It is as if the part was made just for him.

Fans of the television show, "The Office" will likely know of Gervais.  He was the original creator of the "The Office" in England, later to be adapted for American television by fellow comic actor Steve Carrell.  Gervais' humor is an acquired taste, and you must be into British humor to understand much of his humor.  However, "Ghost Town" brings him firmly into America's comedy scene.

Gervais stars as Bertram Pincus, a dentist in New York that is sheltered and downright rude to everyone.  He lives his life alone, and is happy to do so.  At the start, he checks into the hospital to get a colonoscopy.  His surgeon is played the absolutely magnificent Kristen Wiig.  Unfortunately, he dies for seven minutes during the operation and thereafter he is able to see and talk with ghosts.  Once he mistakenly talks to one ghost the word it out, and they will not leave him alone.  All they want is his help to finish some unfinished business.  However, Pincus is reluctant to help anyone.  He finally agrees to help Frank (Greg Kinnear), a ghost that promises that if he helps him, he will make all the ghosts leave him alone.

It just so happens that Frank's widow, Gwen (Tea Leoni) leaves in Pincus' apartment building.  Frank is convinced he didn't crossover because he is supposed to break up Gwen and her new fiancé, Richard (Billy Campbell).  With Pincus's help, the two of them interject themselves into her life.  Naturally, Gwen and Pincus begin to fall for each other.  But of course, Pincus blows it when he reveals that he knows too much about her late husband Frank.  Pincus finally realizes that he needs to change his life, and help to serve others.  The rest of the film unfolds fairly smoothly. To read more about the film, read Bill Warren's theatrical review of the film here .

David Koepp wrote and directed this film.  He writes many films for Spielberg and DreamWorks.  However, he is more well known for his screenplay work on "Jurassic Park" and "Spider-Man."  Those films were naturally big winners.  His work on "Ghost Town" is no exception.  The film is the type of comedy that is hard to come by these days.  Everything seems to be slapstick comedies.  This film integrates humor into great acting and a good story.

"Ghost Town" is presented on a BD-50 disc with a 1080p encode.  The video quality is decent but not as good as I would have expected for such a recent film.  I remember seeing the film in the theaters and not being impressed with the quality either.  The theatrical release had a lack of color.  It seems to rectify that on the Blu-ray, the contrast has been boosted enormously.  The whites are extremely hot and the colors are extremely saturated and fake.  Fleshtones seem a bit unnatural, mainly due to the push in contrast.  Black levels are fairly good.  The black levels and increased contrast create a popping image.  Shadow delineation suffers in some of the scenes.  Details are okay, but lacking more often than not.  The image is not exactly soft, but the details do not pop.  Textures are missing on many of the costumes.  Greg Kinnear's tuxedo is usually just a black blob.  Occasionally, you can distinguish the lapel of the jack.  There is a fair amount of film grain present, which after the host of digital noise reduction transfers I have seen lately, the grain was welcomed.  It adds a film-like texture to the digital transfer.  There does not appear to be any motion or compression artifacts.  Overall, a good transfer.  It is just disappointing to see such a push in the contrast.

The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  There is nothing special about the soundtrack.  The surround channels may as well have been turned off.  There was not one discrete effects in the rear channels, nor is there any noticeable bleeding of the music score into the surrounds.  A big disappointment, however, the original sound design does not call for much.  Some of the music creates a stereo image, however, most everything takes place in the center channel.  The dialogue is clean and audible.  There is no dynamic range.  The LFE channel is also nonexistent.  The soundtrack definitely handles what it has, but there isn't much there.  The dialogue is good and that's all there is to it.

There are only a few bonus materials on the Blu-ray.  First there is an audio commentary by director/writer David Koepp and actor Ricky Gervais.  This is a great commentary, and well worth the listen.  Gervais is funny and Koepp is insightful.  The two play well with each other.  If you are a fan of either member, I highly recommend the audio commentary.  There is a typical "Making of 'Ghost Town'" featurette.  "Ghostly Effects" details the visual effects used in the film.  "Some People Can Do It" is a featurette that covers the connection between this life and the afterlife.  All featurettes are presented in high definition.  Sadly, there are not deleted scenes.

"Ghost Town" is one of those films that takes you on a journey.  It is a film that as a movie lover you wait a long time for.  It is terrific fun and highly recommended.  The audio and video quality are nothing special, and seem hard worthy of HD, but they are perfectly suitable.  Definitely add this disc to your collection.

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