The new Paramount Presents line of blu-ray releases is quite fascinating. The blu-rays are typically beautifully packaged and numbered which immediately appeals to the collector, all the way down to the “Paramount Presents” logo on the slipcover. These releases haven’t, at least up to this point featured extreme collections of bonus features, and often the audio/video presentation isn’t the best out there. A case in point is the Paramount Presents version of Days of Thunder versus the standard Paramount 4k version. The 4k is superior in video and sound but the Presents version has that sweet sweet collector aesthetic. So which do you buy? I have been confounded by this dilemma since the launch of the line and am happy to now get one of the releases to review.
Directed by: Jerry Zucker
Starring: Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze, Whoopi Golberg
Ghost is the little romantic drama that could and did. It appears the studio loved the script but they never anticipated the film would make as much money as it has, win Academy Awards, and become a classic of the genre. Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore play a couple in love, building a life together, until Swayze’s character is murdered. His spirit finds that he can communicate with his love through a criminal medium played by Whoopi Goldberg. He must, with Goldberg’s help, work with Demi’s character to figure out who the identity of the murderer.
Much of the tropes of this film have been imitated and replicated over and over again and that’s really the highest compliment I can pay to the film. There are many iconic scenes in the film that have yet to be surpassed. Ghost has one of the most referenced and loved, love scenes in cinema history. Jerry Zucker was probably the most unlikely choice as a director for this romantic drama but it turns out he was the right man for the right job because this film needed to be lightened a bit with some comedy. The subject and the dialogue are very heave and melodramatic and wtihout showing that the film can laugh a little the melodrama could have become laughable itself, which is not the desired result.
Ghost is most definitely not in my wheelhouse, but I can see how fans of the genre could really love the film. There are really funny moments in the film and Moore and Swayze are really at the top of their acting game delivering palpable passion and connection.
Being a film from the early 90’s there are a few moments that were probably throw away beats from that era that feel a little cringe now but it’s easy to look at those moments as a part of the era and the film in general really as a period piece. Overall the balance of comedy and drama is applaudable. It’s a tugh thing to get right but Zucker’s direction, and I’m sure a lot of comedy improv from Whoopi Goldberg who was also at the top of her game, make the film work in times when it might have fallen apart. When the movie is working, it is really working. One small quibble for me, the use of Unchained Melody is really heavy, and overdone. That’s just me. I know it works really well for most fans.
Ghost is a romance classic and it continues to resonate in ways that few subsequent films have been able to.
This new blu-ray presentation comes from a 4k restoration supervised by the director. Ghost is a challenging film to get right in digital form due to the need for deep blacks and clean bright white highlights. Overall the blu-ray does not disappoint. The biggest sticking point for me was going to be the whites in the film not being blown out and I’m happy to say they are not. Whites and bright scenes look great while also leaving a bit of room for detail in the shadows. Skin tones and textures also look great. I remember thinking while watching the film, wow these are really good looking people! There is noticeable grain, with a few scenes yielding heavy grain but generally the grain structure is consistent and very filmic. Colors look really nice in the film, making me wish to see this on a uhd disc with HDR, but as it stands, this is a relly nice looking blu-ray.
There are several audio options here with the best being the Dolby 5.1 TrueHD. This audio mix is repurposed from the 2008 blu-ray release of the film. Dialogue is crisp and clean and the balance of the score and main music track of the film is very solid. When Unchained Melody kicks in it fills the room and that’s great. For a thirty year old film and an over ten year old audio track it actually offers a bit of environmental audio and some directional sounds. Don’t get excited, it doesn’t blow up all your speakers very often, but it’s really not that kind of film. Ghost does sound much better than anticipated. It’s a solid audio track, just kind of standard though.
The Packaging Bonus Features, & Collectability
Ghost, like all previous Paramount Presents releases comes with a really cool, Criterion level design, slipcover featuring new art on the cover and folding out to reveal the original poster art. This is a really simple thing, but it makes the physical media version of this film so much more desirable. The spine of the slipcover is number “8” which is basically just baiting the hook for collectors. There will be collectors that will want to see all of the spine numbers on their shelves. There’s also interior artwork consisting of a montage of headshots and film stills. It’s not really a reversable sleeve and it’s not meant to be.
There’s really only one new bonus feature on this disc and it’s the “Filmmaker Focus” sit down interview with director Jerry Zucker. The interview is too brief and doesn’t really dig as deep as I would have liked but it is interesting to see him reflect on the film and its success thirty years later.
There’s a pretty nice selection of archival bonus features including an audio commentary with director Jerry Zucker and writer Bruce Joel Rubin. The commentary is highly recommended for cinephiles and hardcore fans of the film. There’s a making of featurette featuring interviews with the director, writer, and cast. The making of featurette feels a bit like an EPK more than a real documentary about the film but the interviews are more candid in a few places that most EPK’s ever would be. Hearing about Swayze and Moore’s behind the scenes chemistry will be surprising to some. Finally there’s also a featurette dedicated to the primary love scene in the film. There are some nice anecdotes in this brief featurette.
The artwork, from the slipcover, particularly the internal artwork, and the new cover art all focuses on the people that worked to create this film and that focus is so refreshing. Most cover art these days is churned out by a PR machine and yes it focuses on the floating heads of celebrities that can sell the film, but this release offers little touches such as a quote from director Jerry Zucker on his own film included in the art. It just feels like Paramount is saying, hey we know this combination and cast and crew is special and they made a special thing here, with the complete presentation. The running Filmmaker Focus series of interviews with directors makes me want to own all of the movies in this line just to have all of these interviews. I just wish these were 4k releases so the film presentation would match the quality of the packaging. I do understand the pricing though. Offering this release in a standard blu keeps the price below $20. One additional little miss is no disc art. So much love is put into the packaging and the disc is just standard blue.
The film looks and sounds as good as it’s going to look on blu0-ray here. The packaging is gorgeous, and with the archival stuff included the extras are pretty good. As far as collectability this is a no brainer, unless a 4k is coming out. Then…we have a quandary.
Preorder your copy here! The blu-ray will be released on July, 21st 2020.