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Ghostbusters 1 & 2 Double Feature Gift Set DVD Review

Ghostbusters 1 & 2 Double Feature Gift Set

January 10, 2006

Director: Ivan Reitman, ,
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, William Atherton, Peter MacNicol, Kurt Fuller, David Margulies, Director: Ivan Reitman, Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, William Atherton, Peter MacNicol, Kurt Fuller, David Margulies, ,

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DVD Review

 

Right from the get-go the Ghostbusters movie (1984) was destined for greatness. The teaming up of, arguably, the three funniest men in the business must’ve seemed like instant box-office success to the studio execs at the time. And it was. The film went on to do huge business and became a pop culture phenomenon, spawning an animated TV show and an inferior sequel (1989). It was one of those rare films where all the right elements clicked at just the right time and place. Sony has gone back to the well and packaged both films together with a couple of new extras and a collectible scrapbook but is it really worth the double-dip?

After being kicked out of their cushy university gig, three scientists—Peter Venkman (Murray), Ray Stantz (Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Ramis)—decide to go into business for themselves as paranormal investigators and eliminators (“The franchise rights alone will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams,” claims Venkman to a skeptical Stantz). In other words, exterminators of the supernatural. Their skills are put to the ultimate test when their first client’s (Weaver) apartment becomes Spook Central for all of the paranormal activity in New York City.

The chemistry between Aykroyd, Murray and Ramis is what makes the film work so well. Each brings to the table their own distinctive personality and imparts that to their characters. Venkman is the sarcastic hustler, Stantz is the wide-eyed believer and Spengler is the bookish egghead. The actors play well off each other, displaying uncanny comic timing honed by years of work on Saturday Night Live and SCTV. One only has to watch the classic scene where they bust their first ghost (and try out their new equipment) to see how well they interact with each other and this results in many funny moments.

The film also spawned countless classic lines of dialogue like, “Back off man, I’m a scientist”, “He slimed me”, and “Dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria!” These are only a few examples, not surprisingly said by Murray who delivers his lines with just the right amount of dryness or snarkiness (when he’s hitting on Weaver’s character). Aykroyd gets to say all the long speeches filled with techno-jargon while Ramis plays the uber-geek. The supporting cast also has their moments, most notably Rick Moranis as Weaver’s nerdy accountant neighbour who has a major crush on her and always seems to lock the door behind him when he goes out into the hall to greet her.

After the phenomenal success of the first movie a sequel was inevitable. Reportedly, the lone hold-out was Murray who never liked the idea of a sequel but was coaxed back by Aykroyd and Ramis. Looking at this film one can see why he was so hesitant to come back.

From the prologue you can tell that something is off with this movie. It lacks any of the suspense of the original’s as Dana’s baby carriage is mysterious whisked off by an unseen force into the busy New York City streets. The entire sequence lacks any imagination.

The sequel takes place five years after the Ghostbusters successfully saved the city from total destruction. Dana now has a baby from a failed marriage (not by Venkman). Stantz and Zeddemore (Hudson) now perform like clowns at kids’ birthday parties while Spengler is a research scientist and Venkman is a talk show host on a joke of a program. However, the guys are brought back into action when a mysterious river of ectoplasmic slime appears in the sewers of the city and a nasty demon finds his way out of a painting, threatening to destroy the city with the mood-altering goo.

The chemistry between everyone is still there but the same magic of the original movie isn’t. The dialogue just isn’t as funny—it doesn’t have the same snap and pop—and feels forced. You don’t find anyone quoting lines from this movie and that’s the big difference. Add to the mix, a baby (never a good thing) and Slimer as an ally of the Ghostbusters (someone was watching the cartoon) and you have all the makings of a lackluster sequel that just doesn’t hold up to the original.

Special Features:

Most of the extras from the original special edition are included in this new version with some missing in action. Gone is the video portion of the audio commentary which did add a Mystery Science Theater 3000 quality but is not a huge omission. However, also gone are the trailers and the subtitled production notes that one could see while watching the movie. For these alone you might want to hold onto your previous edition.

The picture quality of both movies has been improved significantly, although, maybe it’s because I am so used to the old transfers that, at times, this new one looks too good. And then, some scenes look just as grainy as the previous edition but this may be due to the film stock at the time.

There is an audio commentary by director/producer Ivan Reitman, actor/writer Harold Ramis and associate producer Joe Medjuck. This is a spirited track with the three men joking and clearly enjoying themselves and the movie after all these years. They impart a lot of good factoids and anecdotes about making Ghostbusters. For example, John Belushi was originally supposed to play Venkman with the film being set in the future but he died and this idea was scrapped. This is an excellent track and a must for any fan of the movies.

“Scene Cemetery” features ten deleted scenes, including a funny bit where Aykroyd and Murray play street bums that argue about who would win a fight between a martial artist and a professional boxer. Most of this footage is just extensions of existing scenes and was rightly cut.

“1984 Featurette” is a fun, vintage promo reel for the movie that gives one an idea of just how big a deal this film was at the time.

“Cast and Crew Featurette” brings back Aykroyd, Ramis and Reitman for a retrospective look back at the movie as they talk about how special it still is to them and their kids.

“SFX Team Featurette” reunited Richard Edlund and his team as they talk about how they got the gig and pulled off some of the movie’s visual effects.

“Special Effects Before and After with Multi-Angle” allows you to watch three scenes and how they looked before effects were added and the final product as well.

There is a gallery of “Production Photos” of the various supernatural creates in the movie while the “Conceptual Drawings” gallery features drawings of vehicles, creatures and most interestingly several incarnations of the famous logo.

“Storyboards” allows you to watch three scenes from the movie simultaneously with thumbnail sketches as a comparison.

The Ghostbusters 2 DVD originally had no extras and it still doesn’t have any that pertain to the movie but two new additions are an episode from The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, entitled “Citizen Ghost” and “Partners in Slime” from the much inferior Slimer and The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. Hopefully, this means that Sony is finally going to release these shows on DVD at long last.

Finally, there is a nice, glossy movie scrapbook that features more storyboards, stills and poster designs from the movies.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 85%

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