Ghostbusters II DVD Review

It took five years for the sequel to one of 1984's biggest hits to finally get a sequel. Almost everyone returned for the second half of "Ghostbusters" and surprisingly, most of what made the first so enjoyable returns. It's not quite as funny and doesn't quite move as fast, but the improved special effects and great cast make sure this one is a worthy follow-up.

Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), now divorced with a baby, nearly loses her kin when its carriage mysteriously moves into traffic on a busy street. She turns to the only people she knows. Now out of business, the Ghostbusters must convince a city, which turned them away, that another evil force (one that feeds off the evil of the citizens in New York) is about to break loose on New Years Eve.

Most of this sequel focuses on Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) and Dana Barrett. They shared a semi-relationship in the first film and here it really gets fleshed out. It gives at least some of the characters some depth and ends up pulling both movies together quickly so all the loose ends are tied up. Nearly the entire cast returns, though it seems like Ernie Hudson was an afterthought. You can count how many minutes of screen time he gets on one hand.

ILM does some incredible work here, arguably some of the best they've ever done, not including CGI-reliant films. The scene in the courtroom is absolutely spectacular while the two montages feature some great designs (some of which could have been included as the main antagonist). When the Ghostbusters finally make their walk down the streets of New York inside the Statue of Liberty (while the streets are filled with on-lookers), your jaw just drops. It's certainly more impressive than the Marshmallow Man in the first film.

The problem is that no special effect can cover-up a rather lackluster script, which at times really strains for laughs. Since this group now knows what they're doing, most of the comedy from the original is gone. Sight gags are at a minimum and everything leans more towards one-liners. Most of the comedy is spread thin as well, seemingly stretching a 100-minute feature into what seems like a three-hour epic. Finally, how scary can a guy be when he jumps out a painting? Vigo is hardly a match for the killer dogs in the original.

Still, when the credits roll, you'll leave knowing you had a good time. Maybe not a great time, but it's enough to satisfy fans of the original and create a few new ones as well. I guess I might as well admit it and say this was my favorite movie when I was younger (until the Ninja Turtles came along of course). Not that I'm older and a bit wiser (ok, maybe not), "GB2" is still fun, just not like it used to be. (*** out of *****)

Both sides of the argument will be happy with this disc as 2.35:1 widescreen and pan & scan are contained on the disc (opposite sides). This print is really in great shape, showing little or no signs of wear. The transfer is equal to it. With the exception of a few minor shots (particularly some in the courtroom and special effect sequences) that suffer from inconsistent black levels and grain, this is just stunning for a 15-year old movie. Flesh tones couldn't be anymore accurate and compression is well controlled. You could even say the majority of this movie simply looks perfect. (****)

Brought into the new millennium, the 5.1 sound mix is not quite as well done. Nearly the entire movie is centered with a few moments of subtle and barely noticeable rear speaker work. Most of the soundtrack fills the field nicely, but that's the extent of this mix. The LFE channel gets the day off too. Dialogue is clean with no distortion so they got the important parts right, but we've all heard better work from movies much older than this. (***)

Plenty of deleted material is out there for this movie, but none of it gets included here. The only extras are some trailers and filmographies. On a final note, who did the cover art? Not only is the picture on the front from the original film (and missing Ernie Hudson), but also the police on the back aren't even looking at the walking Statue coming right towards them. (*)

Most of the leads here including Reitman, Aykroyd, Ramis, and Murray were reluctant to make the sequel. I'm sure the studio was relieved when they decided to go ahead. It grossed nearly $120 million before the theatrical run was over.

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