Ghostbusters II (1989) Review

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GHOSTBUSTERS II

**** Out of 5

Tagline- Guess Who’s Coming to Save the World Again?

Release Date- June 16th, 1989

Running Time- 108-Minutes

Rating- PG

Screenplay- Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis

Director- Ivan Reitman

Starring- Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson and Rick Moranis

The original Ghostbusters, which was released in 1984 became a massive success pulling in roughly 242-million in the US and about 295-million totaled worldwide. That’s a whole lot of money in any era, but for 1984 its an insane amount of money and it seemed as if everyone in the world went to see Ghostbusters. Not only was it a massive hit in the box office, but it was a critical hit as well. Ghostbusters became a pop culture phenomenon that spawned an animated series and a ton of merchandise. When looking back at film in the 80s it was very much a decade of sequels and to me the biggest surprise it took 5-years until Ghostbusters II was made. When looking back at the 80s Friday the 13th, which came out in 1980 spawned 7-sequels in the 80s alone with most coming out the following year. The first Police Academy, which like Ghostbusters was released in 1984 would have a sequel every year through the 80s. A Nightmare on Elm Street another 1984 film would have a sequel in every year except 1986. Even the Halloween series, which after a few years away returned in 1988 and the 5th film came out a little less than a year later, which makes it even more surprising it took 5-years for Ghostbusters II seeing as it was far more successful than any of the films I mentioned. However by the late 80s the tide was starting to turn on sequels and 1989 saw such films as Halloween 5, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and Police Academy 6: City Under Siege pull in roughly half of what the previous films made. Ghostbusters II made far more than all those films combined, but was seen as a slight disappointment as Ghostbusters II pulled in about 112-million, which is far below the 242-million of the original however the sequel did make more money than the original outside of the States, which brought the worldwide total to about 215-million, which is still far below the original, but a little closer. However Ghostbusters II did open to 29-million, which was a bigger opening than the original film, but unlike the original, which spent several weeks as the number 1 film, and did the rare lose it than get it back, the sequel though didn’t quite have the same lasting power, but based on the opening the hardcore fans came out and the rest moved on. All those other films mentioned at some point had sequels, but Ghostbusters III has been just long rumored. I think Ghostbusters II perhaps waited a little too long and with the market dominated by sequels I think the audience was growing tired. Sometimes for whatever reasons a film fails to catch on if we look at John Carpenter’s the Thing and Big Trouble in Little China both films didn’t fair well despite being now seen as classics (the Thing in particular). So when it comes to Ghostbusters II I think its partly the 5-year gap as well as the market being dominated with sequel after sequel. By most Ghostbusters II is seen as inferior to the original, which is usually the case for sequels and perhaps the high expectations could have led to a drop, but over the years Ghostbusters II while still considered inferior to the original has found an audience and is looked upon to some degree as a classic in its own right.

5-years after the events of the original the Ghostbusters business is going bankrupt due to the amount of lawsuits filed on them. But soon they’re forced to get back together and save New York once again.

The best thing about Ghostbusters for a studio is its easy to turn into a franchise. There’s so many directions that the sequel could have gone. The screenplay by Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis is quite solid and while not as strong as the original it’s still quite effective. With character development out of the way there’s more that can be done with the characters, but don’t take that wrong as characters are as well written with plenty of depth like the original and all the characters have some truly great moments. The story does take a little longer to get going and perhaps a little more could have been done with it. I liked the idea and I liked the script, but with a 5-year gap one would think Aykroyd & Ramis could have done a bit more with the concept in regards to maybe expanding on the idea. To some degree it does follow the structure to the original film and doesn’t mix things up as much as I’d hoped. Regardless of a couple of issues Aykroyd & Ramis are very talented and they deliver a fun and well written script that had potential for more, but with that said Aykroyd & Ramis Ghostbusters II is terrifically written, funny and has great character moments.

Once again Ivan Reitman returns to direct and Reitman while a highly successful filmmaker is also someone I find underrated as he’s made some wonderful films. Reitman made his directorial debut in 1971 with a film called Fox Lady and he also directed a film back in 1973 called Cannibal Girls, which starred Eugene Levy and Andrea Martin from Black Christmas. Reitman’s breakthrough film was with Meatballs in 1979 and was the first time he worked with Bill Murray and Harold Ramis. He would than go onto direct the classic Stripes and in 1984 with Ghostbusters he would have his biggest success. Reitman also directed the comedy classics Twins and Kindergarten Cop both starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ivan Reitman had also done some prolific work as a producer as he worked with David Cronenberg on such films as Shivers and Rabid. He also produced Animal House, Beethoven and Private Parts. As mentioned Ivan Reitman is a very popular filmmaker, but in my opinion deserves more credit. With Ghostbusters II he does play things a little safe, but he delivers a well paced film that’s high on the fun factor throughout. Pacing is quite strong, which also has a lot to do with watching these terrific actors. While Ghostbusters II is an excellent film, but sure a bit of a letdown, but Reitman delivers another solid film in his excellent career.

In someways Ghostbusters II is a bit of a letdown after the terrific original and again it doesn’t really expand on the concept as much as maybe it could have. The original film holds up quite well and for me personally it isn’t quite as epic as it was in the 80s, but I still however very much enjoy it. Ghostbusters II is also very good and one of the stronger sequels in regards of standing proudly next to the original. Ghostbusters II has all the right elements to be a fun ride and it brings back the core of the cast and the director and unlike the majority of modern Hollywood blockbusters Ghostbusters II delivers the good even if it plays it a bit safe. Despite the advancements of technology the special F/X in both Ghostbusters movies hold up quite well, which is also assisted on how its was filmed and edited and sure certain F/X show their age, but revisiting the series I was quite surprised by how terrific both films hold up with the F/X. Overall Ghostbusters II is a solid and highly entertaining film and the cast really elevates the film and Rick Moranis again steals the show. Ghostbusters II isn’t as good as the original, but to be honest it really isn’t far behind it either. Again I’ll say it I think a little more could have been done with the concept, but regardless Ghostbusters II is a terrific and fun filled movie with great performances from the cast. There’s been other films that grossed about what Ghostbusters did only to see the sequel drop to roughly what Ghostbusters II made, but the fact the original film became such a pop culture phenomenon I suppose the studio expected around the same box office return. Though I still find it odd that despite the drop Ghostbusters II was still a massive hit, but yet nothing ever came about making another one.

Ghostbusters II was released on blu-ray in a single disc edition as well as packed with the original for the 30th-Anniversary of the original and 25th for the sequel. Ghostbusters II has a brand new 4k scan and all I can say is wow. The HD presentation on both films are incredible and they look like newer films. Everything is natural with no use of DNR. In my opinion the Ghostbusters films might be the best looking blu-ray’s for an 80s film I’ve seen. Actually they look so good its almost distracting as I’m thinking the whole time how beautiful the HD quality is. The colors jump right off the screen and detail is amazing.

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