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.
"And you don't want us exposing ourselves!"
The boys in grey, as the late radio personality Casey Kasem once referred to them as, are back with another wacky adventure of paranormal activities. Except in this follow-up to the beloved comedy classic, they also don some new threads along with their now-very-familiar uniforms — mostly all in black with the "no-ghosts" emblem prominently flaunting two fingers like a peace sign. Even Ecto-1 receives a couple minor, exterior upgrades and looks a bit flasher, particularly the electronic marquee sitting on the roof signaling their comeback. The filmmakers raise the stakes somewhat with supernatural hijinks so colossal and widespread that the Ghostbusters team brings in a surprisingly funny temporary fifth member in Rick Moranis' bumbling screwball Louis. His ungainly presence, along with his steamy affair with Annie Potts's Janine, makes for a nice addition, despite mostly serving as the plot's blundering comedy relief.
Unfortunately, anything new or original in this mostly entertaining but frankly generic and unexpectedly average sequel pretty much ends there. The same level of lighthearted energy and wisecracking cynicism introduced in the first film remains, but there is also something weirdly mechanical and routine. Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd return to their massively successful hit a bit reluctantly, as the behind-the-scenes legend goes, and it tends to show often throughout its 108-minute runtime. Picking up five years later, Ramis and Aykroyd's script essentially follows the same blueprint as the original, repurposing many of the same plot beats, down to the heated and unlikely relationship of Bill Murray's practically iconic Peter Venkman and Sigourney Weaver's intelligent but also frazzled damsel Dana Barrett.
With that in mind, the team is unsurprisingly called into action when Dana experiences close encounters with the beyond in an opening sequence that is admittedly well-done and edited to suspenseful effect. This is followed by a few expository scenes that blatantly though still amusingly update audiences on the guys' whereabouts and activities since last we saw them save the Big Apple from a giant walking marshmallow. True to Dana's assumptions of him, Peter has actually become a TV personality for a quack show on psychic phenomenon, and Egon (Ramis) has gone back to scientific research while Ray (Aykroyd) and Winston (Ernie Hudson) perform birthday parties where the kids much prefer He-Man. Aside from Ramis' always content bookworm, the guys once again hit a humiliating low-point in their career until another powerful being with a smoke-and-light magic show threatens the city they love.
This is where Reitman's sequel wavers constantly between hit and miss because it's never quite clear how or why Vigo the Carpathian (Wilhelm von Homburg) is a supremely powerful being. So much so that the spirit-trapped-inside-the-painting (?) can do what the ancient god Gozer failed to accomplish: subdue and overpower three bumbling scientists with "unlicensed nuclear accelerators." And the only way to actually defeat this monster is by bringing New Yorkers together and play nice for what seems like maybe a half hour? An hour, at most? Ultimately, it's all nonsense, but the conclusion is satisfying enough and earned. Of course, this is largely thanks to the endless wisecracks, mostly coming from the awesome Murray, all-around great performances from the cast, including Peter MacNicol's Renfield-like Dr. Janosz Poha, and the still-amazing special effects, 'Ghostbusters II' delivers a fun and amusing follow-up.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
For this 25th Anniversary Edition of the 'Ghostbusters II,' Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings the sequel to Blu-ray under the distributor's new "Mastered in 4K" line of products, supposedly optimized for UHDTVs but not actually presented in a native resolution of 2160p. The Region Free, BD50 disc arrives inside a blue, eco-lite keepcase with a code for an UltraViolet Digital Copy. At startup, viewers are taken straight to a static menu screen with the usual options and music.
Like its predecessor, the sequel arrives on Blu-ray under the "Mastered in 4K" moniker, and the results are shocking and extraordinary, amazingly surpassing the first movie but in terms only of picture quality. Of course, the photography of the talented Michael Chapman ('Taxi Driver,' 'Raging Bull') is completely different to László Kovács's grainy style. Here, the movie is far cleaner and sleeker with more depth and dimensionality, and the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode is faithful to Chapman's intentional design. Details in the weathered buildings and the fall/winter clothing of the cast are often razor-sharp. Natural flesh tones in facial complexions are highly revealing, exposing every pore, wrinkle and negligible blemish with distinct clarity and excellent resolution.
Presented in a 2:40:1 aspect ratio, very slightly and trivially cropped from a 2.35:1 OAR, the source appears to be in astonishingly great condition, awash with very fine layer of grain that gives the presentation a very-much appreciated film-like appeal. Spot-on, comfortably bright contrast allows for some splendid visibility in the far distance, exposing every bit of background information with superb intelligibility. The screen is littered with lavish, radiant primaries throughout while the softer secondary hues boldly energize, nicely complementing the film's lighthearted drive. Black levels are opulent with surprisingly deep, penetrating shadows that never ruin the finer details, giving the high-def transfer a welcomed cinematic feel.
The proton-pack-wearing supernatural investigators are back with a highly entertaining and amusing DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Although upgraded for modern home-theaters, the lossless mix remains, for the most part, faithful to the original stereo design, keeping many of the paranormal activities in the front soundstage. Imaging is wide and rich with a terrifically detailed mid-range and convincing acoustics, delivering a wealth of clarity and warmth from beginning to end. Randy Edelman's ('Twins,' 'Kindergarten Cop') score, which actually repurposes many of Elmer Bernstein's haunting sounds, consistently broadens the soundfield with superb distinction within the orchestration. Like its predecessor, the low-end is impressively weighty and robust for a film of this age, adding some great rumbling effects to the action. With crystal-clear and pristine vocals in the center, this high-rez track perfectly complements the video.
Celebrating 25 years, 'Ghostbusters II' remains an amusing and fairly entertaining follow-up to the beloved sci-fi comedy classic. It may not be quite as funny as its predecessor, but the movie still delivers some laughs and amazing special effects. This new "Mastered in 4K" edition of the sequel comes with an outstanding audio and video presentation that is a definite upgrade to previous home releases. Supplements are sadly light, but with a new, exclusive featurette, the overall package is nonetheless recommended.