Film Review: Ghostbusters II (1989)
One of the most talked about among big Hollywood films that never got made used to be Ghostbusters III, third instalment in the series started by 1984 supernatural comedy Ghostbusters. Decades long attempts to put it on the big screen were, sadly, ended in 2014 with the death of Harold Ramis, one of the co-writers and stars of the original. There are many reasons why this project, despite much teasing of fans and initial developments, never became reality. But most of it probably has to do with the second instalment in the series, 1989 film Ghostbusters II, produced and directed by Ivan Reitman.
The plot begins five years after the events depicted in the first film. Despite rescuing New York City from evil god-like entity Gozer, team of paranormal investigators/exterminators known as Ghostbusters has been put out of business due to being sued for damages. The members are now going their separate ways. Ray Stantz (played by Dan Aykroyd) owns a small occult book store and, together, with Winston Zeddemore (played by Ernie Hudson), makes extra money as children’s entertainer. Egon Sprengler (played by Harold Ramis) has returned to research work at Columbia University. Peter Venkman (played by Bill Murray) hosts psychic television show. Team reunites when Venkman’s former girlfriend Dana Bartlett (played by Sigourney Weaver) complains about malevolent force stalking her and her baby son. Ghostbusters discover the underground river of strange pink ooze that flows under the city and which is actually feeding on the negative feelings of New Yorkers. As this happens, Janos Poha (played by Peter MacNicol), curator in art museum where Dana works, becomes helper of Vigo (played by Wilhelm von Homburg, voiced by Max von Sydow), ghost of 16th Century Carpathian warlord who wants to resurrect himself in the body of Dana’s baby.
Despite relatively long pause between two films, Ghostbusters II kept most of the cast and senior crew of the Ghostbusters. Ivan Reitman again produced and directed film, while Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd again wrote the script. Despite that, there was an effort to make this film at least somewhat different that the first and thus evade inevitable comparisons that usually plague sequels. An idea of having supernatural ooze that feeds of peoples’ negativity was interesting and even intriguing in the context of 1980s New York, a metropolis that was going through difficult times. Peter MacNicol, the only major addition to the cast, did very good job in the role of over-the-top henchman with heavy East European accent. Film also benefited from bigger budget and much improved special effects that looks as good as they can for pre-CGI era.
However, despite that, Ghostbusters II looks terribly unoriginal, almost like an uninspired carbon copy of the first film. This is most evident at the ending, which is in many ways similar to the original Ghostbusters. Instead of mysterious and all-powerful Gozer, main villain is somewhat underwhelming Dracula-type demon that, for the most part, stays captured in the painting. Musical score by Randy Edeleman is less effective than in Ghostbusters. The cast is solid, but it usually goes through the motions, with characters already established and novelty being removed. Bill Murray is especially disappointing, since Venkman used to be most impressive and most memorable of the original characters. Despite that, the film is still entertaining to be recommended to the fans of the original and audience that feels nostalgia towards 1980s Hollywood. However, to properly enjoy this film, viewer should lower expectations. Ghostbusters II had very good results at the box office, but those results were disappointing compared with first film and with many other high-profile sequels released in 1989. Critics were hostile and even some members of the cast expressed disappointment. Ghostbusters III in the end never materialised but some sort of third instalment in the series appeared in 2009 as Ghostbusters: The Video Game, a project that represented the last gathering of original cast.
RATING: 5/10 (++)
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