Very few would ever argue that Ghostbusters II is better film than Ghostbusters. And those few are not people worth debating with. However asking Ramis and Ackroyd to come up with a sequel to their 80s masterpiece is akin to asking Einstein to come up with a better mathematical equation than E=MC2. Ghostbusters is as much a perfect cinematic equation as Einstein’s mass–energy equivalence. We can only ever expect less, and less is what we get. Don’t get me wrong, Ghostbusters II is a better film than many however. The main reasons for this are the same reasons the original worked so well for adults – those subtle, little jokes.
These jokes are very much down to writers Ramis and Ackroyd. Again, Egon Spengler (Ramis) steals the show – a bit more obvious but often no less funny. His faux accented assertion of “Yo!” is equal to any joke in the original film. Bill Murray’s character Peter Venkman is cranked up however, and he transitions to funny to mildly irritating at times.
What sets this films apart from the first however is the fact it’s far more legitimately scary. Ramis and Ackroyd are not afraid to play with all the toys in the horror playchest, shamelessly implementing everything from a ghost train and a dancing toaster to the genuinely frightening bath monster.
Sadly it just doesn’t have that absolutely stunning ending the original has: none of the scope, size, or vision. It feels like a step backwards. You can understand they couldn’t go bigger than the original in those times but the film tops out with the Scoleri brothers courtroom battle. With the statue of liberty finale, it’s a reasonable ending, but it will leave you hankering for the original.
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