Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 10/30/01
1989 (1999) - Columbia TriStar
review by Greg Suarez of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B+/D-
Specs and Features
108 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame
(1.33:1), dual-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, talent
biographies & filmographies, theatrical trailers (for Ghostbusters,
Ghostbusters 2, Groundhog
Day and Stripes), film themed
menu screens, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 and 2.0),
Spanish and Portuguese (DD mono), subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese,
Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Thai, Closed Captioned
"Why am I dripping with goo?"
What can be more fun than watching Bill Murray be a wisecracking smart-ass for
almost two hours? Well, if you add the brilliant straight-laced comedy of Harold
Ramis and the loveable scientific mumbo jumbo only Dan Aykroyd can mutter, you
make a good thing even better. I'm sure this is what Columbia was banking on
back in 1989 when Ghostbusters 2
premiered, but unfortunately the film smacked into the premiere of the superior
and ultimate summer movie - Tim Burton's Batman.
This isn't to say that Ghostbusters 2
tanked at the box office. On the contrary, it did very well. But the big news of
the summer of 1989 was definitely the Dark Knight. The Ghostbusters' second
outing is not as inspired as 1984's first look at America's spook catching cops,
but it stands as better than average summer movie fare.
Five years after the Ghostbusters saved New York City from Gozar the Destructor
(remember the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man?), the boys have gone out of business
due to lawsuits for the millions of dollars in damages they caused. When new
mother Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) and her baby Oscar ("Named after a
hot dog, you poor, poor little man!") start getting supernaturally
terrorized, Dana enlists the help of her old friends, the Ghostbusters, to solve
Our heroes discover that a powerful ancient sorcerer, Prince Vigo (The Scourge
of Carpathia and The Sorrow of Moldavia) wishes to enter the present world and
take over, but he must find a human vessel to do so (i.e., Dana's baby). Vigo
draws his strength from the contempt and mean spirit New York citizens have for
each other (try finding that today). But until he finds the human vessel, the
ancient tyrant is trapped inside of a painting in the Manhattan Museum of Art.
Uh, oh! Here it comes
I can't help myself
Who are you going to call?
I enjoyed Ghostbusters 2, simply because
I'm huge fan of comedy and this film was the fruit of the reunion of comedic
geniuses Murray, Ramis, Aykroyd and director Ivan Reitman. The story was good
enough to keep me interested and the script contained plenty of fertile ground
for Murray's wise cracks. Just check out chapter 2, "The World of The
Psychic," to discover what has become of Dr. Venkman since 1984 - this
scene is classic Murray, from his never-take-anything-seriously attitude, to a
hilarious glare right into the camera as if to say, "This woman is a nut!"
Murray's brand of humor is terribly difficult to describe, but I'm sure many of
you know what I'm talking about. Rest assured that if you dig Murray, you'll dig
A great addition to the original cast - all of whom are back for the sequel -
is Ally McBeal's Peter MacNicol as Dr.
Janosz Poha. Dr. Poha works at the Manhattan Museum as the director of
restoration for the museum's collection and becomes Vigo's unwilling slave.
MacNicol portrays Dr. Poha with a truly inspired amalgamated quasi east European
accent, much like Martin Short's character Franck in Father
of the Bride. Using this clever tick to accentuate the bizarreness of
his character, MacNicol seems to be tipping his hat to Dwight Frye's classic
performances as Renfield and Fritz in 1931's Dracula
and Frankenstein, respectively. Like the
character of Dr. Poha, Frye's roles were strange manservants to dark characters.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation on this disc is pleasing, but
contains some flaws. First, occasional white blemishes appear that prove that
Columbia did not strike a perfect print to master this disc. Second, the overall
presentation is somewhat harsh, with instances of grain and edge enhancement.
These imperfections notwithstanding, the video has nice color fidelity and
close-up shots contain a wonderful level of fine detail. Dark interior scenes
never appear muddy and black level is nicely rendered. There is a pan and scan
version of the film on the reverse side, but I strongly recommend against
viewing it. Director Ivan Reitman and director of photography Michael Chapman
use every inch of the wide, Panavision framing to tell the story and a highly
unacceptable amount of visual information and visual cues by the characters are
lost in the pan and scan process. Of course, I never recommend viewing
bastardized pan and scan or full frame versions of films, but in the case of
Ghostbusters 2 (and even the original
Ghostbusters), I guarantee that you will
be losing out on some jokes.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is generally very acceptable, but not as creatively
used as I would have expected. The majority of the action is confined to the
front soundstage, but the rear channels are occasionally used to convey music
and ambient spatiality. The soundtrack occasionally boasts aggressive low
frequency cues and dialog sounds natural and never strained. Plus, where else
would you be able to hear a Bobby Brown song in 5.1? This film does a wonderful
job of dating itself with stomach churning late 80s pop music.
The only extras on this disc are trailers for both Ghostbusters
movies, and two other Columbia TriStar Bill Murray flicks, Groundhog
Day and Stripes. Talent
biographies/filmographies are included
yawn. The packaging promises
production notes, but I couldn't locate them. With the absolute premium
treatment Columbia bestowed upon the first Ghostbusters
flick, the least they could do is afford this release a documentary or a
commentary track. Or maybe a Bobby Brown music video?
Is Ghostbusters 2 a film for the ages?
Nope. Is it a great popcorn movie? Yeah. Is it a lot of fun? Definitely. Murray,
Reitman and company produced a decent, crowd-pleasing comedy... and I imagine
that's all they set out to accomplish. The audio and video qualities of this
release are acceptable, but a slight step below Columbia's usual high caliber
work, and the absolute lack of extras is incredibly disappointing. Are you ready
to believe me?