When directly compared against the standard definition release, Ghost Ship impresses. The 1080p 1.85:1 transfer may not be up to the standard of recent new film releases, but it does a very good job of improving on the previous DVD.
As mentioned in the main body of the review, whatever the film's faults, Ghost Ship does feature some gorgeous cinematography and model work. This is highlighted by the transfer which manages to be consistently sharp throughout the film. The level of detail is very impressive, even when we are viewing the many dark scenes present in the film. The black is inky, and the level of detail in the shadows is very good.
The source is excellent quality with very few blemishes coming through, and the facial textures are realistic and consistent. The transfer really brings out the details of the models and enhances the work that has been done in this area. There is grain present within the transfer but this is a low level, natural pleasing grain that enhances the filmic quality of the transfer.
The Dolby TrueHD sound mix for Ghost Ship is a surprisingly excellent one, considering the origins of the film itself. I was surprised to see a lossless mix but it certainly enhances the atmosphere of the film considerably.
The potential in films like this is great, but very rarely does a mix deliver. The scope for spooky sound effects enveloping the listener is great, and when set in a ship the extra water effects allow even more potential. The good thing about this mix is it adds some subtlety that the film itself certainly doesn't have.
The dialogue is generally clear, although I did find myself straining to pick up some of what was said during the quieter scenes. The speech is well anchored to the front and during action scenes there is no problem hearing the dialogue amongst the effects and music.
The front separation may not be the widest you have ever heard, but the music (even though some of it is appalling) is well integrated and never overwhelms the other aspects of the sound track. The sub is also well used underpinning the rest of the track and kicking in nicely when needed for explosions and other effects-heavy scenes.
The true revelation is the subtle but clever use of the surrounds. As mentioned earlier, it is subtlety that can add atmosphere to a film - and it is the rears that do this here. Directionality is precise, with the lapping of water and footsteps echoing around the rear - greatly adding to the whole package.
It has to be said that it is surprising that such a mediocre film got such a fantastic mix, but if you are a fan of Ghost Ship you are likely to be in seventh heaven here.
It should first be noted that all the extras presented here are in Standard Definition. We have no commentary or In Movie Experience so let's dive straight in with the first featurette : Max on the Set : “Ghost Ship” Cinemax Special. This is a pretty standard EPK fluff special which waxes lyrical about how wonderful the film is. This provides no great insight.
We then get a disappointingly short featurette on Visual Effects. It is fascinating to see the buildings of the models and the detail - so it is a shame this isn't longer. Much better is A Closer Look At The Gore which dissects (sorry) the opening scene. This is probably the best extra on the disc.
Designing the Ghost Ship presents more info about the model making, and a music video Not Falling by Mudvayne also makes an appearance. Finally, there is a very poor interactive game Secrets of the Antonia Graza and a trailer.
Ghost Ship is a film that has a shocking opening that is likely to take your breath away and astound with its audacity. However, after this it soon descends into the realm of predictable horror movie, full of cliché and with wooden performances from the acting talent. This is a shame because there is plenty to admire in the production design and the beginning does promise so much more than the film actually manages to deliver.
The disc is served with a very good picture and an excellent TrueHD sound mix that goes a long way towards making up for the lack of a scary atmosphere from the movie itself. The extras package, unfortunately, matches the film with its mediocrity and is presented in standard definition.
If you are a fan of the movie then the AV upgrade will make this a purchase, for anyone else it is very difficult to recommend this as a full price buy. However, for a Saturday night popcorn rental the disc is certainly worth a look.
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