Ghostbusters 2 (1989)

“Ghostbusters” was a superb one and done premise that worked because it had such regular men who were called in to confront some spectacular circumstances, and in the end have to figure out how to live in a reality where they’ve essentially proven the existence of the supernatural. It’s surprising that the follow up is so sub-par and often monotonous as it almost has nothing to do with the original concept. It kind of goes through the motions and doesn’t exactly know how to continue building on these originally complex and flawed individuals. They don’t evolve much at all from when we last saw them, and writer Harold Ramis and Dan Akroyd seem to be painted in to a corner by devolving them and building them back up all over again.

In the follow up, despite everything that happened, the Ghostbusters are now has been that have been pushed in to obscurity. Ray and Winstone are now party entertainers that put up with the dismissal of various children, all of whom insist that their experiences in the last film were questionable. “Ghostbusters” featured a giant monster, possession, a high rise being publically consumed by demons, and the like, and the public still consider the Ghostbusters con men? I just don’t buy the premise very much and the circumstances feel like a dubious effort to push the progression of the characters back for the sake of the sequel. There’s not even a collection of Winston when the characters begin inspecting possible supernatural activity, which feels like a waste of a character who added the underdog element in a big way.

Winston’s whole prophecy of an apocalypse or judgment day involving ghosts and or demons never comes to fruition, with Ramis and Akroyd opting for a more middle of the road baddie. “Ghostbusters 2” merely takes what was most popular in the first film and emphasizing them to stale centerpieces that never quite land. We saw a giant marshmallow man, so this time the Ghostbusters use mythical slime to animate the statue of liberty to stomp across New York. Slimer is utilized yet again, and Dana Barrett is even brought back with her newly introduced toddler son Oscar becoming the target of a demonic entity living in a painting. Dana is working as a painting restorer in a museum, helping to preserve a portrait of a 16th century tyrant named Vigo the Carpathian.

When the painting is cursed, Vigo takes hold of Dana’s lovelorn assistant Janosz (Peter MacNicol), and uses him to help kidnap Oscar. Through Oscar, Vigo hopes to be reincarnated to take over the world and create chaos. Writers Ramis and Akroyd have to create more logical circumstances leading to the reincarnation of Vigo, so two or more menaces are created, including ectoplasm-like ooze that can gain power and sentience thanks to the rise of emotions. This plot device is inevitably tangled with the villainous Vigo, veering in to what is a mediocre follow up, through and through. Despite the fun turns by Murray and some great ghost effects (The Scolari Brothers still look creepy), “Ghostbusters 2” can never really match the momentum and sharp enthusiasm of the original and often feels a lot more like a contract obligation. Ramis and Akroyd are so much better than what this continuation allows.