The guys in gray suit up for another ghost-busting adventure on home video with the three-film, eight-disc 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital Limited Edition Ghostbusters Ultimate Collection. The set includes new Dolby Vision Ultra HD Blu-ray discs for Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II with the same two discs for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Ghostbusters: Answer the Call is only included in the digital collection, for some folks out there, the “ultimate” designation may be questionable. Everything is housed in an elaborate trap-shaped box (that lights up when you remove the discs) that’s pretty damn slick. While having the canonical trilogy together is great, the real get for this set are the extra bonus features packing hours of great material including the Preview Cut and TV version of the original film as well as a copy of the Marking Ghostbusters book. Now, all we need is The Real Ghostbusters complete series on Blu-ray and we'd be in business! If you’re a serious Ghostbusters fan, this set is a Must Own.
[Excerpt from our original Ghostbusters 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review]
"Aykroyd and Ramis wrote a terrific script with a nice blend of comedy, fantasy, horror, and sci-fi. It plays off of each actor's talent, welcoming improvisation, and suits their respective roles perfectly. The characters carry a believable camaraderie as if they've known each other for years, and we feel comfortable around them. Though Ramis never planned on playing the role of Egon (Christopher Lloyd, Michael Keaton, and Chevy Chase were favorably considered), it is practically nigh impossible to imagine anyone else pulling it off. Winston was also written with Eddie Murphy in mind, but Hudson does such a terrific job in his low-key role that Murphy's exuberance could only be viewed as a distraction. The team rightly allowed Murray to go all out with Venkman and establish that cynical comic persona for which he is now celebrated. With Reitman reining it all together, the spook-fest that is 'Ghostbusters' still produces laughs of epic proportions."
"Added to this is the use of physical props and animatronics spliced into the film, which recalls an earlier time of cutting edge technology. With a cemented trend for the use of CGI effects in modern moviemaking, there is something charming and endearing about watching some old-school special effects do their thing. Of course, this new Blu-ray version greatly exaggerates the artificiality of it all and makes the tricks-of-the-trade appear dated by comparison. But these fabricated creatures participate in the humor and become a part of the storyline, turning Ghostbusters into that rare exception where such effects actually compliment the film. Over the years, Slimer has evolved into the undisputed mascot of the franchise while the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is now enjoyed as one of the funniest monsters to grace the silver screen. Even Ecto-1 is easily recognized today as the official vehicle of the Ghostbusters and looks more like a clown car than a serious transport of paranormal equipment." 4.5/5
[Excerpt from our original Ghostbusters II 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review]
"Unfortunately, anything new or original in this mostly entertaining but frankly generic and unexpectedly average sequel pretty much ends there. The same level of lighthearted energy and wisecracking cynicism introduced in the first film remains, but there is also something weirdly mechanical and routine. Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis, and Dan Aykroyd return to their massively successful hit a bit reluctantly, as the behind-the-scenes legend goes, and it tends to show often throughout its 108-minute runtime. Picking up five years later, Ramis and Aykroyd's script essentially follows the same blueprint as the original, repurposing many of the same plot beats, down to the heated and unlikely relationship of Bill Murray's practically iconic Peter Venkman and Sigourney Weaver's intelligent but also frazzled damsel Dana Barrett."
"With that in mind, the team is unsurprisingly called into action when Dana experiences close encounters with the beyond in an opening sequence that is admittedly well-done and edited to suspenseful effect. This is followed by a few expository scenes that blatantly though still amusingly update audiences on our heroes' whereabouts and activities since last we saw them save the Big Apple from a giant walking marshmallow. True to Dana's assumptions of him, Peter has actually become a TV personality for a quack show on psychic phenomenon, and Egon (Ramis) has gone back to scientific research while Ray (Aykroyd) and Winston (Ernie Hudson) perform birthday parties where the kids much prefer He-Man. Aside from Ramis' always content bookworm, the guys once again hit a humiliating low-point in their career until another powerful being with a smoke-and-light magic show threatens the city they love." 3/5
[Excerpt from our Ghostbusters: Afterlife 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review]
"Call me a sentimentalist, but I had a blast with this movie. Two visits to the theater and now twice at home, Ghostbusters: Afterlife was just a lot of fun. There were callbacks to the original films while setting the stage for a new generation of busters to throw on the proton packs. Some of the elements may have been a bit too familiar for its own good, but all around it was a more-than-worthy outing. It feels like the movie a parent who grew up with the original movies in the 80s shows their kids to introduce them to the world of Ghostbusters. I wouldn’t call this a perfect movie, but not one worth nitpicking when so much about it works so well."
"This is a film that actually connects to the franchise and passes the torch instead of trying to redo everything without the same spirit or heart - or decent script - of the original. And I say that as someone who thought Answer The Call wasn’t as terrible as folks piled on, but it still wasn’t a great movie. Afterlife pays tribute to what came before without relegating the original cast to genuinely terrible cameo appearances. And thanks to some fancy makeup, CGI, and Bob Gunton, the series fittingly says adios to one of the architects of the franchise. While nostalgic elements are a little thick in some places, they’re not the worst examples of “fan service.” We’re not diving into magic tribble blood levels of terrible in this film. Instead, we get a nice assortment of nods to the original films with a couple winks at the classic animated series for good measure." 4/5
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
The Ghostbusters: Ultimate Collection haunts 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray from Sony. An 8-Disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Digital set, you get Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife with two additional bonus features discs, and a new pressing of the very cool Making Ghostbusters book that contains hundreds of photos, storyboards, concept drawings, with Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis’ screenplay.
Each film’s discs are housed in standard two-disc cases with unique film-specific slick black slipcovers with individual ghost logos. All of these cool materials are housed in a pretty damned awesome Ghost Trap case. The case is hard cardboard stock - so not flimsy, but you do want to treat it with some care. A little slider mechanism opens the magnetic trap doors to reveal the whole set.
Ghostbusters: Answer the Call is only included in this set on the digital copy slip. If you take out the book, there is just enough room to slip in the 4K case so you technically could have all four films packaged together - but that’d mean you’ve booted the book out of the box. Books have feelings too, you know!
The badass feature of this set - at least for those in the U.S. - when you open the set and pull the discs out, a sensor trips when it's exposed to light, and green interior lights come to life illuminating the inside. The lights stay on only for about five seconds so you shouldn’t worry about burning out the little battery. A clear plastic slipcover slides over the whole show for a pretty damn beautiful-looking box set!
NOTE: We've unfortunately heard many instances for U.S. buyers that weren't given correct discs (multiple of either Ghostbusters or Ghostbusters II 1080p Blu-rays), and/or not getting the slick black slipcovers. I put in a word to our Sony rep to see about replacements or remediations. As for U.K. buyers and why their sets don't light up, I've found no answers anywhere.
Not content with simply reissuing the same old discs again, Sony has gone back and upgraded Ghostbusters with Dolby Vision HDR in addition to the standard HDR10. While the Dolby Vision pass offers some subtle and welcome refinements to the image, the nice kicker here is the higher bitrate. The original 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray had a pretty healthy bitrate average of around 60-65mbps. This new disc rolls up an average of around 80-85mbps with some strong peaks well past 100mbps! And frankly, in a number of scenes, you can appreciate the difference. Film grain still maintains a strong appearance but it’s more refined and less intrusive. Primaries are better handled with flesh tones that look just a shade better and closer to a more normal, less overly flushed red palette. When Jeneane takes the first call as she’s about to leave for the night, the shadow refinement for this scene and other darkly lit shots is notable. Softer effects shots are still soft - nothing much can be done about that. I felt like Slimer was a brighter more vibrant emerald green now. Perhaps not a massive improvement but enough to call it a satisfying upgrade. 4.5/5
Not to be left behind, Ghostbusters II also picks up a new Dolby Vision grading and a healthy bitrate boost matching the mid-to-high 80mbps average Ghostbusters now enjoys. For some of the less elaborate special effects shots, that really does help quite a bit. Like all sequels the need to go bigger and better with the special effects, and because there are more of these shots, there are more notably softer scenes in this film. Even with the higher bitrate, the quality shift still stands out and can be a little jarring. But other shots like when the slime-infused bathtub tries to eat Dana and Oscar, or the Statue of Liberty marches down the city - I felt that blended a little better now. Film grain is still readily apparent but like the first film, is a little better resolved and less intrusive. The Dolby Vision grading gives a little more refinement to the primary palette, greatly helps black levels, and gives some really slick spectral highlights. When the proton packs fire or the Scolari Brothers attack the courtroom with their lightning bolts, it’s a pretty sick effect. Whites are also crisp and clean without blooming issues. All around a welcome upgrade over the still pretty solid first disc. 4/5
[From our Ghostbusters: Afterlife 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review]
"The Dolby Vision HDR grading is spot on. Primaries get plenty of pop while maintaining the warm golden shades of the film’s locations. Reds, blues, and yellow/browns are all lively. Skin tones are healthy. Spectral highlights really pop with dynamic lighting sequences, the neon lighting at the hamburger joint and especially with the proton packs! Black levels are a little subdued in a couple of places, the creepy dirt farm interiors maintain a deep dark brown shade without quite going full inky black. But when Phoebe discovers the hidden workroom it’s the appropriate true black shade we’d expect. With that, three-dimensional depth is well maintained throughout the show. Whites are bold and crisp without any blooming issues to speak of. Free of any video noise issues or serious trouble spots, this is another terrific near demo-worthy presentation for 2021." 4.5/5
As Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II used the same solid Atmos audio tracks and the Ghostbusters: Afterlife discs are the same as the solo release - check out our respective reviews for each breakdown.
Now, the cool news with Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II - Sony has gone back and included the original DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 audio tracks. As someone who thought that the Atmos tracks for these films were cool and only added anything for specific scenes, it's nice to have these tracks available. Especially the 2.0 tracks. Both options give users clean and clear dialog, active engaging soundscapes, and genuinely sound excellent. So for those folks not Atmos equipped or who enjoy original audio mixes for their classic catalog films, it's awesome to see Sony step up and give everyone some options in that arena.
As with any good “Ultimate Collection”, Sony didn’t skimp on the bonus features. There are hours of great new and archival materials to dig through here. Now, of the main films, all of the bonus features are pushed onto the standard 1080p Blu-ray discs. That means the audio commentary that was on the original 4K disc of Ghostbusters is now on the 1080p disc only. Sony seems to like to do that - I don’t know why, but there you go. Otherwise, all of the materials on the second disc for each film are identical to what’s been released before.
For the bonus features discs, there’s a ton of great stuff to dig through. The biggest and best is the Preview Cut of Ghostbusters. This is an incomplete version, sound effects aren’t 100% there, there’s no score and visual effects aren’t there yet. However, what you are getting is some great alternate takes and some slight subplot deviations and scene extensions that we didn’t see in the final film. So even though it’s rough and incomplete, it’s still a real kick to check out. And then when you’re done, you can go back and watch it with the audio commentary. On top of that, you get all of the deleted scenes, raw dailies, and the Dana auditions to pick through. Ghostbusters II picks up a few more fun extras - not sure how much you’ll get out of an old Oprah episode but it’s cool to see what people looked like again back in 1989 when I was seven years old. Sadly Ghostbusters: Afterlife doesn't pick up really any notable bonus features. I was hoping we'd see some more behind-the-scenes stuff - especially the Adam Savage Tested set visits are a blast so check those out. But for what you're getting, this is truly awesome.
Bonus Disc One: - The Big Twinkie
Bonus Disc Two:
Ghostbusters II Special Features
Ghostbusters: Afterlife Special Features
Through multiple VHS tapes, DVDs, Blu-rays, and now 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays - the canonical franchise may have actually found its definitive release with Ghostbusters Ultimate Collection. Bringing together Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Sony has delivered an impressive package. With unique trap-shaped packaging, fans get 8 discs of content, many hours of bonus features, plus the excellent Making Ghostbusters book. To cap it off, Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II pick up new Dolby Vision HDR passes that offer appreciable improvements over the first 4K disc releases - and now these two films also come with DTS-HD MA 5.1 and their original 2.0 audio mixes as well!
Understandably this Limited Edition sold out fast; we’ve put in queries to Sony about reissuing the set, or at the very least the discs and book so folks don’t completely miss out on the fun. With Ghostbusters turning 40 in a couple of years, I doubt this is the last we’ll see or hear from the franchise on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray - but this is a tough release to top. From the kick-ass packaging to the newly authored discs for the original films with so many great extras, the only way to call this set is Must Own - if you can find one at a price that doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet.