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Ghost Print E-mail
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
ImageHigh status has been bestowed upon "Ghost," as one of the most romantic films in recent history.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the film, I don't find it all that terribly romantic.  Yes, it is a little weepy at the end, but throughout the film it is much more about revenge.  Still, the actors and story are there to create a memorable film.

Patrick Swayze stars as Sam Wheat, a banker that is deeply in love with his girlfriend, Molly (Demi Moore), who is an artist.  Sam stumbles across what he believes to be a glitch in the banking system, and is later killed that evening during an attempted robbery.  Sam's essence departure from his body is a classically done scene.  Sam rejects going into the light so that he can stay on earth and avenge his death, and look after Molly.

It doesn't take Sam long to find the man that killed him.  However, Sam is shocked to learn that he was hired by his best friend Carl (Tony Goldwyn) to rob him.  Carl is behind a money-laundering scheme at the bank and required Sam's passcode to recover the funds.  When Carl tries to move in on Molly, Sam sets out to try and find a way to protect her.  During this time he encounters another ghost that is able to channel his emotions in order to affect the physical realm.  Sam learns this technique.  He also teams up with Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), a spiritual psychic that swindles people out of their money.  However, for some reason or another (to make the plot work is my guess) she can actually hear Sam around her.  Sam does everything he can by using Oda Mae as his physical assistant. "Ghost" is quite the film.  It is adored by many and despised by others.  I find the creator's simplistic view of the afterlife to be endearing.  There is simply an up and a down – heaven or hell.  The presence of Sam and the other ghost characters makes you believe for a little while that there actually is the possibility of afterlife beings present around us everyday.  Of course, the famous "love scene" between Demi and Whoopi is a bit frightening – like we are really supposed to be that Sam has inhabited her body and that Demi is is feeling Sam and not Whoopi.  I don't think so.

The music score is top notch.  It is not elaborate by any means, but it is inspiring.  Maurice Jarre's adaptation of "Unchained Melody" into a string arrangement is beautiful.  The music score comes in at the right moments and helps sets the mood of the scene perfectly.

The image is presented in a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode, with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  The image appears to be from the same source as the recently re-mastered standard definition release.  Unfortunately, it isn't really a good thing.  While the image quality is decent for a 1990 film, it is far from being the best catalog title I have seen.  There are several blemishes on the printmaster, including dirt, but they are not overbearing.  There are several burst of distracting, heavy grain.  The blacks and shadow delineation are average.  The colors are a bit muted, but they are present when it counts.  The CGI effects are noticeably blurring.  The do not appear to be any compression or motion artifacts, nor edge enhancement.  The transfer is much better than other catalog titles of the same era, such as the recently released, "The Mask."  This is a fine presentation for the age of the film, just not mind-blowing.

The audio is presented to us in Dolby TrueHD 5.1  The original film sound design does not call much attention to the boost to a high-res audio track.  However, there are some improvements.  The mix is fairly entirely front-heavy.  There are a handful of discrete effects that pop up in the surround channels.  The music is powerful, but needs a bit more of a preferential treatment in the sound design.  It is nicely spread into the rear channels, but still lacking.  The dialogue is the primary element of this film.  It is firmly anchored to the center channel.  Unfortunately, some of the dialogue lacks the upper and bottom end frequencies that create a tight presence.  The LFE channel doesn't have much presence in the film, but does kick in a couple of times.  I would have liked a bit more of the music fed to the subwoofer.  Overall, the soundtrack is suitable for the age of the film and its original sound design.

The Blu-ray contains the bonus materials present on the 2007 standard DVD release.  All material is present in 480p.  Unfortunately, the package feels a bit light.  First there is an audio commentary with director Jerry Zucker and writer Bruce Joel Rubin.  This commentary contains a lot of dead space and can probably be skipped unless you are a huge fan of Zucker.  Next, there is a featurette, "'Ghost' Stories: Making of a Classic," that contains a decent overview of the making of the film.  "Alchemy of a Love Scene" is a serious featurette on the Demi-Whoopi-Patrick love scene.  "Inside the Paranormal" is a cheesy look at the mediums and psychics in real life.  "Cinema's Great Romances" is a generic excerpt from one of the AFI's "100 Greatest" TV specials.  Lastly, there is a photo gallery and a theatrical trailer.

"Ghost" is a great movie.  It has heart, warmth, story and characters that you can truly care about.  Sadly, the video and audio quality are only slightly better than the 2007 standard DVD.  Still, I would have to recommend this for your collection.

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