H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def discs by Gary W. Tooze


Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze







Ghost Town [Blu-ray]


(David Koepp, 2008)



Review by Gary Tooze


Studio: Dreamworks Video



Region: FREE

Feature Runtime: 1:42:17.131

Chapters: 34

Disc Size: 38,358,649,484 bytes

Feature Size: 30,793,617,408 bytes

Average Bitrate: 40.14 Mbps

One dual-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 27th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC


Dolby TrueHD Audio English 3248 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3248 kbps / 24-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
DUBs: Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps

Feature: English (SDH), French, Portuguese, Spanish and none


Commentary by David Koepp and Ricky Gervais

Making of (in HD 22:40)
Some People Can Do It
Ghostly Effects


Bitrate Graph:



Product Description: Bertram Pincus is a man whose people skills leave much to be desired. When Pincus dies unexpectedly, but is miraculously revived after seven minutes, he wakes up to discover that he now has the annoying ability to see ghosts. Even worse, they all want something from him, particularly Frank Herlihy, who pesters him into breaking up the impending marriage of his widow Gwen. That puts Pincus squarely in the middle of a triangle, with spirited results




The Film:

"Ghost Town" is a lightweight rom-com elevated by its performances. It is a reminder that the funniest people are often not comedians, but actors playing straight in funny roles. Consider Cary Grant in "Topper" (1937), the obvious inspiration for David Koepp, who directed and co-wrote "Ghost Town" with John Kamps. Because both Gervais and Kinnear seem so urgent in their desires, and because Tea Leoni has a seemingly effortless humor and grace, this material becomes for a while sort of enchanting.



Yes, it is required that the plot has some of its characters living happily ever after, and that requires some dialogue that is, excuse me, corny. I suppose it comes with the territory. There is poignancy in a subplot involving Dana Ivey as a woman who wants to communicate with her daughters, and indeed a whole crowd of ghosts hoping to send messages to the other side. We have this comforting notion of our deceased loved ones smiling down benevolently from heaven. Now that they're getting a good look at us, they're probably tearing out their hair...

Excerpt from Roger Ebert's review at the Chicgao Sun-Times located HERE


Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

I have a - very personal - theory that specific films, and even certain genres, are less important to see in high-definition. In comedies, the jokes are usually just as funny as in SD. In the image analysis of Ghost Town we created comparison captures and it appears as though the DVD has had some definite boosting and, expectantly, the Blu-ray looks far more 'film-like'. Ghost Town's visuals are not overly impressive in 1080P but this is no fault of the DreamWorks transfer. I thought detail, colors and contrast were as competent as most other modern film Blu-ray discs I've seen - possibly a notch lower. The image has minor flaws with smatterings of background noise but far less than its DVD counterpart. Generally the visuals present a smooth, tight, slightly darker, appearance. Black levels are pretty strong. As a 2008 film it's damage-free but doesn't exhibit demonstrative depth. The dual-layered disc (feature taking over 30.5 Gig) is at the modest end of Blu-ray transfer status. It's consistent quality from the MPEG4 encode looks to have replicated theatrical reasonably well. It has a tendency to look quite crisp and the image is well in advance of the simultaneously released DVD. Other than that the film itself doesn't export much in the way of visual brilliancy.




(SD-DVD TOP vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM)



(SD-DVD TOP vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM)



(SD-DVD TOP vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM)



(SD-DVD TOP vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM)



(SD-DVD TOP vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM)



(SD-DVD TOP vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM)



(SD-DVD TOP vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM)



(SD-DVD TOP vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM)



Audio & Music:  
TrueHD track is solid although the surround aspects are under-utilized due to the film content and established track. It would be considered at the extreme passive-end with few effects noises that, when prevalent, are quite discretionary when venturing to the Surround speakers. Geoff Zanelli has composed mostly unremarkable scores for films in the 90's - this is simply another - although highly suitable for the film narrative. This is basically a front channel film - with dialogue being clear and consistent. There are French and Spanish 5.1 DUBs and the commentary is in 2.0 . Optional subtitles are offered in
English (SDH), French, Portuguese or Spanish.


Duplicating the DVD we have an amusing, laid-back, commentary and pretty standard production stuff - with the 20 minute making of in HD. If you are keen there is enough to indulge it may interest you and I think the commentary is worth a spin. Gervais can be quite funny.



Bottom line:
Yea - this is better than you may expect. There is some definite 'goodness' about this film and I enjoyed my viewing suspecting I will watch it again sometime.  It wasn't so much the humor (Ghost Town is fairly amusing at times though) that I found entertaining but how the more sentimental areas were dealt with and presented. Adept performances (I like Greg Kinnear, my first exposure to Gervais is a thumbs-up, and Leoni is always sweet) and this
Blu-ray transfer offers the best way to see the film in your home theater but, depending on how picky you may be, the SD, HERE, should suffice in my opinion - it's about $8 cheaper. If you are on-the-fence, rent it - I do think Ghost Town has some true value as a film. 


Gary Tooze

December 29th, 2008





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