The Screening Room
I never quite got "Ghost."

"Ghost" is now available on Blu-ray disc.

I took my girlfriend, who is now my wife, to see it. Already going in, the movie had three strikes going against it in my mind. Strike one, it had Demi Moore. I was no fan of her's, didn't think she could act, and the boyish haircut she had in the movie didn't do her pretty face any favors. I always thought she came across as pretentious. Strike two, it had Patrick Swayze. I always thought he was an "ok" actor, but I still reeling from his performance in 1989's "Road House," which has become sort of guilty bad movie pleasure over time. Strike three, it had Whoopi Goldberg. Loved her in "The Color Purple," but didn't like her performances since. If there was such a thing as strike four, it was a goopy love story.

The movie ended and my girlfriend and most of the audience was weeping. Being a sarcastic young twenty-something, I rolled my eyes and said, "Oh brother." I didn't like the movie, and I hated the often repeated love song from the Righteous Brothers, "Unchained Melody," played over-and-over on the radio. What did I know? The film made millions. To my surprise, and horror, the film was nominated for a number of Oscars, including Best Picture!

I can't believe it's been almost 20 years since the movie came out. A lot has changed since then, as they say. Demi has sort of disappeared from the movie scene and is probably known now for dating eternally young actor, Ashton Kucher. Swayze never had a hit film as big as "Ghost," but worked steadily. The poor guy has been fighting cancer recently. And Whoopi has been a jack-of-all-trades by doing numerous movies, voice-overs, and talk shows. As for me, I got married, lost some hair, gained some weight and had a daughter. I still don't really care for "Ghost."

Yet time has a funny way of working with your head. I've met a few of people who worked on the film, editor Walter Murch, visual effects consultant, Harrison Ellenshaw, and visual effects supervisors, Richard Edlund and John Van Vliet. One, if one has a conscience, takes another view of even movies one doesn't like it. That one is me. You come to realize, and hopefully understand, how much work, sweat and tears go into a production. I looked at "Ghost" recently and decided that I didn't dislike it as much as I did in 1990.

If anything, "Ghost" is a passionate movie. I can now see why audiences fell for Sam Wheat's love of Molly, and how his desperation to bring closure to his murder was so important. Bruce Joel Rubin's script, though in my opinion is still thin, works in a decent love story. When I saw the film for the first time, almost everything about the story felt familiar and predictable. I was surprised when Rubin's screenplay won an Oscar for that year. Though most of the 1990 nominees are mostly forgotten today, I thought Barry Levinson's script for "Avalon" was stronger and more tender.

Swayze lends credibility to his character and he's believable in his love for Molly. We see his plight in eyes and we see how much he wants to set things straight. Granted, he'll bring closure to Molly's life and his murder, and she'll move onto another dude, but that's besides the point. I'm joking, of course. Moore, who has always left me cold, doesn't quite register with me as Molly. Sometimes you don't like a certain song for whatever reason, I feel the same way about Moore. Sure she cries over Sam, and she mopes around after his death. But she's not believable to me. I didn't feel, and still don't feel, bad for her character.

Whoopi is being Whoopi in this film. Her acting persona has always been a mixed bag for me, and she does her "Whoopisms" all through "Ghost." I remember my girlfriend and the audience busting up at her portrayal of Oda Mae Brown. I didn't find her funny, though. I was surprised when she was nominated for an Oscar, then not surprised when she won. Academy voters probably felt bad for snubbing her excellent acting in "The Color Purple," and felt she finally had her due despite making movies like "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Burglar." She was up against fine performances that year like Annette Bening in "The Grifters" and Lorraine Bracco in "Good Fellas."

The Blu-ray is surprisingly very good. The picture quality is outstanding and perhaps surpasses how sharp and clean it looked in theaters. (That is not to say that a 35mm print couldn't look great and that a Blu-ray is better). The picture retains the original grain and texture fine. It has a perfectly natural film appearance.

The sound is even more surprising. I'm not sure if the team at Paramount went back to the original audio stems and remixed the sound, but it is quite good in Dolby TrueHD. This is actually one of the cleanest sounding Dolby TrueHD titles I've heard yet. The audio is crisp and pleasing and offers a fine performance for your audio system. I don't recall the original mix being anything special, but this Blu-ray presentation kicks "Ghost" up a notch.

I still don't care for "Ghost," and I'm not sure if many audiences today would consider it a classic. I suppose, if in the right mood and I turned off my cynical side, the movie might move me. But it still doesn't.           
Bill Kallay

Special thanks to Click Communications

Photos: Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.
Blu-ray Quick Glimpse



Tear filled ghost story

Director: Jerry Zucker

Cast: Patrick Sawyze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg 

Making of, and more


Picture: Excellent
Sound: Excellent

Those special effects are pretty cool

Aspect Ratio (1.85:1)

Dolby TrueHD

December 30, 2008
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