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COLUMBIA TRISTAR

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Ivan Reitman
Cast:
Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson
Writing Credits:
Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis

Tagline:
Be ready to believe us.

Synopsis:
Prepare to spend some quality "slime-time" with Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2, together for the first time in this exclusive DVD gift set! These spooktacularly successful films captured the imagination of audiences around the world--and redefined the action-comedy genre in the process. This gift set includes the two films, each with an assortment of otherworldly extras, and a deluxe Collector's Scrapbook, loaded with production notes, character sketches, insider info and more. Because when it comes to supernaturally classic comedy, Who you gonna call?

When kooky, spooky college profs Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) lose their university jobs, they decide to go freelance, de-haunting houses in a new ghost removal service. As soon as they open their doors, their first order of business becomes saving beautiful cellist Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) and nerdy Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), who've inadvertently opened the gates of hell ... right in their own apartment building! The Paratroopers of the Paranormal swing back into hilarious action in Ghostbusters 2 when an underground river of ghoulish goo threatens to rot the Big Apple to the core. Saving the world has never been this outrageously funny!

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$112.494 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $19.94
Release Date: 7/26/2005

Available Only as Part of Available Only as Part of the Ghostbusters Double Feature Gift Set.

Bonus:
• Two Episodes of The Real Ghostbusters Animated Series


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Ghostbusters II: Double Feature Gift Set (1989)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 25, 2005)

Every summer spews it many mega-blockbusters, but 1989 stands out to me as one of the biggest years ever. Batman emerged as the season’s main attraction, but it had a lot of competition from hits like Lethal Weapon 2, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

Then there were the disappointments of the summer. Star Trek V remains probably the biggest bust of that season, but some others came up short of expectations as well. I’d count Ghostbusters II in that category.

According to IMDB, II snared a not-insubstantial $112 million at the box office. That figure sounds pretty good, especially since those dollars haven’t been adjusted for inflation; that number would be around $160 million these days. To be sure, we can’t regard II as a flop.

But I think it shouldn’t be seen as a real hit either. The original Ghostbusters took in $238 million back in 1984, a figure that adds up to about $400 million in adjusted dollars. That meant a big decline from the first flick to the sequel.

Or maybe I see II as a dud just because I remember that it left me with a feeling of disappointment. I think I enjoyed the movie when I saw it theatrically, but it didn’t live up to the heights of the original. 16 years later, will I still feel that way? Read on and see!

Set a logical five years after the events in the first film, Ghostbusters II immediately reintroduces us to Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver). In the interim, she got married, had a baby named Oscar, and got divorced. As she heads into her apartment building, the baby’s carriage takes off on its own and zooms through the busy New York City streets.

Understandably, this alarms Dana, so she contacts some old friends. Alas, hard times have befallen the Ghostbusters. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) tries to keep them alive, but along with Winston Zeddimore (Ernie Hudson), he only can muster gigs as entertainers at kiddie birthday parties. Ray also runs an occult book store, while Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) hosts a cheesy cable TV show about psychic phenomena.

Only Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) remains in the field. After the events of the first film, the Ghostbusters went bankrupt and were legally ordered never to pursue spooks. Egon went back into university-level research, and that’s where Dana contacts him to help her figure out what’s wrong with her baby. He brings in Ray, and as a result, Peter comes along as well. Dana and Peter broke up badly, and she doesn’t want him involved, but he tortures Ray and finds out the scoop. The team investigates her situation and tries to find out why Oscar’s pram went so bonkers.

In the meantime, we see that Dana now works at a museum where she cleans up dirty old paintings. She needed more flexibility when she had her baby so she left the symphony, though she plans to return now that he’s a little older. This upsets her boss, Janosz Poha (Peter MacNicol), a prissy European who has romantic interest in Dana. He also undergoes a transformation when a painting of 16th century tyrant Vigo (Wilhelm von Homburg) comes to life and orders Janosz to find a baby to act as his re-entry into human form.

Gee, I wonder who that baby will be? Ray, Egon and Peter continue to investigate Dana’s case, and they locate a virtual river of slime underneath the streets of Manhattan. Unfortunately, they also bust a power line while they’re down there, and this lands them in court. Judge Stephen Wexler (Harris Yulin) doesn’t believe in ghosts and orders them to go to jail. However, when the ghosts of some killers he once had executed pop up in the courtroom, who’s he gonna call? He withdraws the old restraining order and lets the Ghostbusters off the hook as long as they save his bacon.

This means the boys are back in town, and just in time. The river of slime leads to the museum and it appears some major stuff will hit the fan soon. The Ghostbusters have to deal with Vigo’s attempts to return to life and take over the world along with various other spook-related challenges.

Many sequels do little more than remake the original, and Ghostbusters II falls into that category. I don’t want to describe it as a carbon copy of the first flick, for it does make a number of changes. However, you’ll definitely see many similarities between the two.

I regard that as a disappointment and a lost opportunity. Within the genre, plenty of different storylines exist, and the franchise could have gone off into numerous escapades that displayed little connection to the first movie. Instead, this one’s tale and pacing strongly resemble the original movie. We get a definite feeling of “been there, done that” as we watch.

One prominent change occurs, and it’s not a positive. The loose, carefree and wild attitude of Ghostbusters doesn’t port over to the sequel. You can feel the pressure on all involved to create a blockbuster, and the stress shows. It suffers Big Budget Sequelitis, as it’s bigger and fancier but less inspired and creative. It manages to rehash a lot of the same elements without the same spark or energy.

This means II ends up as sappier, cuter and more sentimental than the original. The introduction of the baby creates those trends. I like that the film develops Venkman beyond his status as a wise-cracking cartoon in the first movie, but I don’t care for the kinder, gentler tone the film takes. It lacks the crackling intensity and feels just a little too family-friendly.

Geez – this discussion makes me look like I hate Ghostbusters II, doesn’t it? But honestly, that’s not the case. In truth, the movie has its charms, and it improves measurably as it progresses. Much of that comes from Murray’s performance. He sleepwalks through the first third or so, but he slowly starts to come to life. As the flick moves along, he displays more wit and charm; we start to remember why we liked him so much in the original movie. Murray was that effort’s driving force, so the sequel needs his power to make it work. When Murray brings his “A” – or at least “B+” – game here, the film becomes significantly more amusing and enjoyable.

Of the new elements, MacNicol provides the best work. His European of Uncertain Descent reminds me of others like Serge (Bronson Pinchot) in Beverly Hills Cop and Franck in Father of the Bride. MacNicol manages to make a role that could become tedious and inane into something quite entertaining. He’s weaselly enough for the part but he never goes over the line to become a true villain.

On its own, Ghostbusters II winds up as a moderately enjoyable film. It has some laughs and good times attached to it. The movie simply pales in comparison to its predecessor.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio C/ Bonus C-

Ghostbusters II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Occasionally the transfer displayed some issues, but it usually seemed satisfying.

Sharpness offered some minor problems. A few wide shots came across as mildly soft and indistinct. However, those didn’t pop up frequently, as the majority of the flick looked pretty tight and accurate. I saw no problems with jagged edges or shimmering, and only a little light edge enhancement occurred. Print flaws were more substantial but still modest. Periodic instances of specks and marks presented themselves. These didn’t distract badly, though, as they remained infrequent.

Colors looked fine. As with the first film, Ghostbusters II used a fairly withdrawn palette, and the tones appeared solid within the design parameters. The hues were acceptably peppy and showed good clarity. Blacks seemed reasonably dense and firm, while low-light shots offered nice range and opacity. The occasional softness and source defects dropped my grade to a “B”, but this was a generally nice image.

On the other hand, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Ghostbusters II presented some problems – the same problems that marred the audio for the first film, as a matter of fact. Once again, bass response was too heavy. The manner in which this manifested itself was different this time, though. The first flick added too much low-end for the score, whereas here the bass most heavily affected the effects; the score and music showed appropriate dynamic range for the sequel.

Unfortunately, the effects really came across as overwhelming at times. The bass levels seemed much too high for this material and threatened to take over the entire mix. For instance, the river of slime shots pounded my subwoofer into submission. Other sequences offered similarly excessive bass, and I also noticed an annoying hum from the LFE channel at times.

As also was the case with the original film’s audio, this preponderance of low-end was too bad since the rest of the track seemed good. Oddly, though, the sequel’s soundfield lacked the same scope heard in the Ghostbusters mix. The audio remained resolutely oriented toward the front channels throughout the movie. While the first flick’s mix opened up to the back speakers, that didn’t happen here; the surrounds added general reinforcement of music and effects and nothing more. This didn’t cause problems, but it made for a moderately tame mix.

At least the track used the forward speakers well. Music demonstrated nice stereo imaging, while effects offered broad placement. The elements popped up in the appropriate locations and meshed together neatly to create a reasonably involving soundfield.

Except for the aforementioned bass, audio quality was fine. Speech always remained natural and concise, with no edginess issues. Music demonstrated nice dimensionality and definition. Effects lacked distortion and were clear on the high-end side of things. Between the excessive bass and the lack of surround usage, this was an average mix for a movie from 1989.

When we look at the DVD’s extras, we only get one component: two episodes of The Real Ghostbusters animated series. In a cool twist, one show comes from the era between Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, while the later program follows the sequel. That means each offers a story that in some way reflects the respective big-screen offerings.

Neither is great, though both provide more entertainment than I expected. It’s also interesting to compare the differences between the two episodes. For instance, Lorenzo Music plays Venkman in the 1986 show, while Dave Coulier acts as him in 1990. We even get Arsenio Hall as Zeddemore in the older episode! Ultimately, the shows offer a fun look at Ghostbusters spinoffs.

If I could view Ghostbusters II in isolation, I’d probably like it more than I do. Unfortunately, I can’t help but compare it to the original Ghostbusters, and when I contrast it with that classic, it comes up short. The sequel entertains but never makes it to the higher level achieved by its predecessor. The DVD presents pretty good picture with erratic audio and a small section of extras. I can’t offer a strong endorsement for Ghostbusters II, but if you liked the first one, you’ll probably find some amusement here.

Note that this version of Ghostbusters II is available only as part of a “Ghostbusters Two-Pack”. This set includes the original Ghostbusters along with the sequel. It sells for the bargain price of about $20 list, which makes it a real steal.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3 Stars Number of Votes: 10
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