Ghostbusters II (1989)

(Second viewing, On TV, December 2016) I’ve seen Ghostbusters II so long ago that I’m not sure that what I remembered was from the movie or the videogame. (I definitely remembered the soundtrack, though.) That, in itself, is a pretty good capsule summary of a relatively forgettable sequel. Bits of Ghostbusters II are bad; others are uninspired; others are competent. Some are all three, such as the idea of the Ghostbusters being discredited frauds—it’s patent nonsense after the events of the first film, but it does lead to a few good jokes here and there. The sequel cheerfully takes place five years after the fact and confronts how its characters have moved on (or not). There are a few choice gags here and there, and the basic idea of New York being overrun by slime that feeds on negative emotions is rich in possibilities—and while Vigo makes for a poor antagonist, the use of the Statue of Liberty is inspired. The courtroom scene also works well. As for the actors, it’s a mixed bag: Bill Murray is close to self-parody while the rest of the cast is more or less up to their usual tricks. The special effects are … not good by today’s standards (the subway sequence is notably subpar), and many of them don’t even have the quaint charm of the original: There’s a lot to be said about atmosphere in boosting the impact of special effects, or at least the viewers’ indulgence in suspending their disbelief. Ghostbusters II amounts to a serviceable sequel, one that does feel as if it’s coming from the same place as the original, but not one that equals the standards set by the first film.

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