Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Ghost Writer Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 35.3 GB
Film Size: 29.8 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: A
The Video
The Ghost Writer comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The Blu-ray presentation is very strong and visually impressive throughout. I wouldn’t say the presentation is perfect whatsoever though, as there are also moments which were noticeably softer and far-less detailed.

The Ghost Writer features an intentionally gloomy look throughout, it is almost always raining or about to rain and indoor environments are fairly low-lit. I do love the look about the movie, it provides it with a far more mysterious tone and I think it translates well to Blu-ray.

The colors are presented accurately, skin-tones look natural and detail levels tend to impress. As mentioned, there are moments though which look slightly out of focus when you would expect a strong level of detail.

The film features a light layer of grain throughout but looks fairly clean for the most part. At times I thought the video presentation looked a bit sharper than I would have liked, perhaps due to some slight edge enhancement.

The DVD version of the film is included and made for a nice comparison. The Blu-ray release definitely improves upon the DVD and like most cases, it makes you appreciate the high-def encode that much more.

The Ghost Writer isn’t a perfect looking film, but for the most part I found myself very impressed. There are some notable flaws, but there is nothing serious enough to really be upset about. The Ghost Writer makes for a great Blu-ray experience. 8.5/10.

The Audio
Summit Entertainment has included an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track as the lossless option. Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital is also included. Optional subtitles include English SDH and Spanish.

The audio mix included is engaging and sounds crystal clear throughout. However, there is one issue which I do wish was fixed and perhaps it will in the future with an unrated cut or something. The film has moments in which the word “fuck” is used and it is very clear that the dialogue was re-recorded and replaced with other words to avoid an R-rating.

The issue was also present during the film’s theatrical release, so I can’t blame the Blu-ray release for the issue. Summit should have included two versions of the film on the disc and allowed viewers to watch the film how it was originally recorded.

I don’t care that the word “fuck” was replaced, the issue that I have is that it is so painfully obvious that it takes you out of the experience for just a minute to think about what just happened. Had this been a Blu-ray only issue I would have been far more upset, but it is definitely disappointing since I had hoped they would have released an unrated version for the home video release.

Despite being distracting, I was able to get past the dubs and enjoy the audio experience for what it is. Really, aside from that issue the audio mix is very strong. Surround use is quite immersive and the film’s score sounds beautiful with lossless audio. This is a strong mix that would have rated higher if the dubbing weren’t an issue. 8/10.

The Extras

Side A (Blu-ray):

The Ghost Writer: Fiction or Reality? (10:47) (HD)
Robert Harris (author/screenwriter) talks about his idea for the story and the length of time it took to conceive. He talks about similarities between Tony Blair and the characters from the film. He also talks about his inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock.

The Cast of “The Ghost Writer” (11:49) (HD)
This is your typical cast featurette in which everyone raves about each other and the film. There is a nice amount of behind-the-scenes footage included which keeps this one interesting.

An Interview with Roman Polanski (8:39) (HD)
This is a great interview, the closest thing to an audio commentary on the disc. There is also a great amount of behind-the-scenes footage throughout which makes this my favorite feature from the disc.

Side B (DVD):

DVD version of the film. Includes all extras from Blu-ray side as well.

The Ghost Writer is the very first new release title to release on a Blu-ray ‘flipper’ disc. What this means is that one side includes the Blu-ray version of the film while the other side includes a DVD version of the film. While I can’t say I am a huge fan of flipper discs, as long as they don’t cause playback problems I think they are totally fine. I had no issues with playback in any of the Blu-ray players I watched/tested on.

The featurettes included are good, but I do wish an audio commentary was included for this movie. Perhaps Summit could have also turned pieces from the featurettes into a Picture-in-Picture video presentation for the film.

Overall the extras are satisfying, but I do wish more was included. The DVD copy included is a nice feature, despite being a flipper disc. Fans of the film will be satisfied this time around; maybe we will see a feature-packed release in the future? 4.5/10.

The Movie
The Ghost Writer is the latest film from Director Roman Polanski. The theatrical trailer and a strong cast instantly had me interested. I love a good thriller and this one looked like it would not disappoint.

While I know not everyone has nice things to say about Roman Polanski and his personal life, I personally don’t let that interfere with my film experience and there is no denying that he truly is a great Director.

The film stars Ewan McGregor as The Ghost, he is a writer who becomes just the latest ghost writer for Adam Lang (played by Pierce Brosnan). Supporting cast includes Olivia Williams, Kim Cattrall and Jim Belushi to name a few.

The Ghost begins to find many things strange about his new job, including the mystery of what really happened to the previous ghost writer. While spending time with Adam Lang and his wife, he quickly begins to see that there is much more to be discovered.

The film is just over two hours long but I have to say this film is almost perfectly paced. There was never a moment in which I checked my phone for the time; I was too entertained by the film. That is especially saying something as I do tend to check the time at least once during most movies, especially during a slower scene.

I watched the film with several people and the reactions to the film were slightly different, but everyone in the end said they loved the movie. The ending had some viewers just slightly disappointed, but I thought it worked very well actually. Even those that didn’t like the ending still said they would give the film an 8.5-9/10.

While I found the pacing perfect, there were certain aspects I did not like about the story in general. My issues with the film are small (some mystery is solved just too easily), but for the sake of not spoiling the movie for those who have yet to see it I will not mention them in my review.
Overall The Ghost Writer is a nicely crafted thriller which I have already seen several times and plan to make this one a regular played film in my home theater. The film is one of the best of the year and likely one of the biggest surprises for viewers who have yet to see the film. 9/10.

The Blu-news Summary
The Ghost Writer is one my favorite films of the year, many have yet to see it but I strongly suggest you do as you may find yourself very surprised. The Blu-ray release features a very good video presentation and very good audio mix, but both have some issues which I noted in the review. Overall I was quite impressed by the Blu-ray release, but the film alone makes this one ‘Highly Recommended.

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