Film Review: Ghostbusters II
In 1898, Ivan Reitman released Ghostbusters II as a sequel to his 1984 film Ghostbusters. Starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Meter MacNicol, Harris Yulin, Janet Margolin, Kurt Fuller, William T. Deutschendorf, Hank J. Deutschendorf II, Willhelm von Homburg, and Reitman, the film grossed $215.4 million at the box office. It became the eighth highest grossing film of 1989 with a video game released in 2009 that takes place two years after the events of the film.
Five years after the events of the first film, the City of New York decided that the events of the first film were a publicity stunt and sued the heroes, causing them to go bankrupt and move on to more mundane jobs. However, the ghosts start returning and the team bands together again, investigating a river of slime in an abandoned subway tunnel that thrives on negative emotions. At the same time, Dana’s boss becomes a servant for the ghost of Vigo the Carpathian, who has Dana’s infant son Oscar kidnapped in a bid to take over the child’s body.
Though a decent enough film, Ghostbusters II really isn’t as good as the film that came before it. Sure the film has some escalation and ramps a few things up, such as the horror elements and the way the villain is dispatched, the film feels like it didn’t go far enough. Though the heroes dispatch the villain in a much bigger way than they did in the first film, the stakes they were up against weren’t given the proper adjustment. The way the film sets them back at square one also doesn’t seem to fit, considering that the people of New York seem to have become convinced that the events of the first film didn’t really happen, making it so the Ghostbusters had to be put on the spot for damages and break up. It doesn’t make sense especially with the amount of people and all the evidence there was surrounding the whole thing. What’s more is that the film moved away from the large amount of intelligent humor that was prevalent in the first film and centered more on goofy humor that was originally kept to a minimum. What results is a film that’s good enough to watch when there’s nothing else on, but is so all over the place that it doesn’t capture the essence of the first film while not truly coming off as a proper sequel. Instead, the plot feels more like a subplot that was deleted from the first film and had a movie based off it.
As stated, the one of the biggest reasons the film doesn’t feel like a proper sequel is how the stakes weren’t given the proper adjustment. In the first film, Gozer starts the end of the world via Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. However, here, a long dead tyrant decides he wants to come back to life through the body of Dana’s infant son. Going from stopping the end of the world to making it so that a 16th century tyrant can’t come back to life is quite the decrescendo as far as plots go. While Vigo coming back to life certainly was a threat, it doesn’t compare to a prehistoric god destroying the world. As such, even though there’s a river of slime that feeds off the bad vibes coming from the burnt out New Yorkers that turns into a protective shell around the ceremony where Vigo inhabits Oscar’s body in the climax, the fact that there’s so much less on the line doesn’t help the film.
Still though, where the film did decide to go bigger, namely in how the Ghostbusters go about saving the day, was great. They can’t get into the museum with just their proton packs and decide to use slime that’s been reverse engineered and positively charged to bring the Statue of Liberty to life so they can crash the ceremony. It’s a notable effort by the team to bring some positivity to the city of New York and her citizens. What’s more is that it works and it gives the Ghostbusters the edge they need to break the aforementioned protective shell and stop Vigo. Now if only Vigo’s scheme appropriately fit the method used to defeat him.
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