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Five years after New York's finest parapsychologists save Manhattan from the Goze, it seems that the city is being overwhelmed by "mood slime," and the possessed painting of 16th century sorcerer. Now it's up to the guys in gray to bring out the best of the Big Apple before it's too late.
For more about Ghostbusters II and the Ghostbusters II Blu-ray release, see Ghostbusters II Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on September 9, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson
Director: Ivan Reitman
» See full cast & crew
Ghostbusters II Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 9, 2014
After the release of a mega-smash hit that generated huge revenues and instantly cemented a brand into the minds of the moviegoing public, who are ya gonna call? The cast and filmmakers, of course, with news of a green-lit sequel. Oddly, though, Ghostbusters II -- the follow up to, what else, the immensely popular 1984 film Ghostbusters -- wasn't rushed to theaters but instead took its time arriving on the silver screen. Five years removed from the original, and with the entirety of the key cast and many of the secondaries firmly in place, the sequel enjoyed commercial success but failed to capture the imaginations of critics. Momentum slowed and the film was ultimately declared something of a miss, despite a solid return and plenty of filled seats in theaters. Certainly, it doesn't approach the bar set by the first -- it's neither as big nor as funny -- but it's at least reliable entertainment energized not by proton packs but instead a perfect cast that, even with the obvious slow-down, seems as flamboyant and enthusiastic as at any point in the prized original.
It's been five years since the Ghostbusters saved the day and covered New York City in flaming marshmallow debris. The Ghostbusters are still on the job, if by "on the job" one counts birthday party appearances as steady work. While Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) are busy battling youngsters who would rather play with He-Man than meet real-life heroes, Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) is off conducting his own oddball research while group leader Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) is playing television host on a cut-rate "meet the psychics" talk show. Peter's love interest, Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), is now a recent divorcee and mother of a young baby named Oscar. She works as an art restoration specialist under the guidance of the creepy Dr. Janosz Poha (Peter MacNicol). When a series of strange occurrences thrust the Ghostbusters back into action, they come to learn that the city's recent spell of supernatural trouble may very well be the doing of a dastardly work of art on display at Dana's gallery.
The story may not be as tight, the atmosphere may not be as contagious, the slime be less, the villain may be bland, and the marshmallows may be gone, but the core spirt remains. Ghostbusters II fails sequel 101 -- it's not as big as the first and doesn't even try to take the series in a new direction, just along the same path -- but at least it gives audiences another 108 minutes with one of the finest ensembles in Comedy history. Indeed, the Ghostbusters universe is almost completely a product of the cast's chemistry and camaraderie. The energy they bring is so potent that even crossed streams can't come close to matching its output. Murray, Ramis, Aykroyd, and Hudson form one of those rare cinema quartets through which most anything -- even a movie that's as embarrassingly straightforward and unimaginative as Ghostbusters II -- can turn into, at worst, an enjoyable escape into comic genius. While the script is flat, the cast finds its best and frequently improves upon it, even if it's just by a stare, a funny face, a pose, a posture, or a little added emphasis at just the right time. They're the sort of group that could make two filmed hours of sipping tea appear palatable, but when they fall back into form, dress up in the costumes, and do their own thing with their own little quirks and their own little style, they're capable of mesmerizing an audience to the point that even mediocre material suddenly seems almost exceptional.
But even that doesn't forgive what is a fairly bland core of a movie. Ghostbusters II wallows in slow plot development, again something that's masked by the actors but there's little question that it works against them rather in their favor, as was the case with the brilliant original. The film does, smartly, work primarily in a direction that favors its strength by toning down action and building around the characters as the driving forces, with only hints of the evil to come scattered throughout, slowly building towards a finale that, on one hand, feels forced, and on the other, feels flat. As for the former, it's clear that the filmmakers decided the end needed to be "big" -- as in "Stay Puft Marshmallow Man" big -- so they resort to another oversized mascot come to life (with the help of the NES Advantage controller; nothing like a little product placement) to stomp through New York and help usher in the latter, the "big showdown" between good and evil. Unfortunately, the villains are reduced to a sniveling, accented art curator and a stoic painting that barely moves until the end. Worse, there are precious few encounters with ghosts, no major action pieces to speak of before the climax, and only a cursory, thrown-in cameo for fan-favorite Slimer. It's a disappointing concoction of dullness. Thank goodness for that cast.
Ghostbusters II Blu-ray, Video Quality
Ghostbusters II arrives on Blu-ray with the "Mastered in 4K" Blu-ray treatment from Sony. The 1080p presentation excels, producing a beautiful film-quality image that's clean and well-defined, accentuated by a crucial but minimal grain structure. Details are excellent across the board. Whether viewing textured city surfaces, Ghostbuster uniform lines and patches, facial features, or even close-ups of gelatinous slime, Sony's transfer is nothing short of dazzling in terms of producing accurate, well-defined textures that absolutely blow away any previous home video version. Colors, too, excel. They're lively and rich, presenting bright shades with an evenness and vitality that's second-to-none. Black levels are generally solid with only a few instances of evident paleness, while flesh tones never disappoint. The image does go a hint soft in a few places, notably during the courtroom sequence in chapter five, but the presentation is, otherwise, remarkable. This is another in a growing list of spectacular "Mastered in 4K" 1080p Blu-ray imagery from Sony.
Ghostbusters II Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Ghostbusters II pleases the ears with a balanced DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Opening music, and music throughout -- whether light score or more aggressive Pop -- is full and rich, nicely spaced across the front and enjoying a smooth, effortless, and articulate surround element. Light supportive effects are helpful and clear, including minor office din heard inside an office following an airing of Venkman's television program and, throughout, light background elements down on New York street level. The track's signature moments come when chaos ensues and big action effects take hold, such as when the ghosts escape in the courtroom and, of course, during the climactic showdown that's home to energized effects and elements of aggressively deep bass. Dialogue delivery is clear and accurate through the center. Overall, this is a top-end catalogue movie soundtrack from Sony.
Ghostbusters II Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Ghostbusters II contains several bonus features, including a new retrospective featurette and a handful of deleted scenes.
Ghostbusters II Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Ghostbusters II's finale might depend on the "good will" of New York's denizens, but the film earns little such happiness from its audience. The film works in spite of itself, thanks to its fantastic returning cast and no thanks to a flat story, a bland villain, and little in the way of actual "ghostbusting." It's amazing how far a good cast can take a movie, because even with everything else working against it, Ghostbusters II still manages to leave the audience with a smile thanks to Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, and Hudson, not to mention slightly more visible roles for Annie Potts and Rick Moranis, the latter of whom really steals the show at the end. This is fair entertainment and perhaps the quintessential example of how even poor material can be elevated into something worthwhile in the hands of a perfect cast. Sony's Blu-ray release of Ghostbusters II delivers excellent video, high quality audio, and a few supplements. Recommended.
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