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review added: 10/30/01



Ghostbusters 2
1989 (1999) - Columbia TriStar

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Ghostbusters 2 Film Rating: B

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 her dilemma.

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 this flick.

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?

Greg Suarez
gregsuarez@thedigitalbits.com




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