Monday, February 8, 2016

Recap: "Ghostbusters 2" Intro

Well, it had to happen. After taking my look at the first film, how could I not take a look at the sequel?

A film that stands in infamy as an object lesson in why sequels suck. But... surely, it can't be as bad as people say, can it? I mean, it had the exact same people working on it! Then again... perhaps that was the problem. Let's take a look at the creative process, shall we?

It's not a good sign when the movie's logo is trying to escape its bonds.
Ladies and gentlemen, the story of Ghostbusters II is as simple as it is complex.

It all started with the first film. It was a hit in a very unexpected way. It was a hit with kids.
A spinoff cartoon was inevitable. As I mentioned while talking about the first movie, the name “Ghostbusters” was technically owned by Filmation so when the first movie was a hit, Filmation quickly rushed out a cartoon called Ghostbusters, meaning that Columbia Pictures had to call their animated spin off from the film The Real Ghostbusters. And with Filmation going out of business the same year Ghostbusters II came out, it looks like Columbia had the last laugh.

The Real Ghostbusters proved to be a ginormous hit as well, so Columbia Pictures essentially demanded a sequel from Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis. A lunch was held by the bigwigs in order to see if the old creative team could reunite, and it was a huge smash; everyone there had a great time, and the old team was given between 20-30 million dollars to create a script. Or two.

The first script was… well, remember when I said that Dan Aykroyd’s scripts for The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters were utter messes? So was the first script for Ghostbusters II.

After they threw out ideas regarding Ghostbusters, Inc. and picking up exactly where the first movie left off, they created… well, just imagine this movie.

Dana Barrett and Peter Venkman are married and have a baby together! Then the baby is possessed, and Dana Barrett gets kidnapped by strange, underground fairies. I think we can all be glad that never happened.

I've already talked about one movie with that plot. That was more than enough.
Bill Murray took to calling the script “The Last of the Ghostbusters.” And he explained why in a Starlog Magazine interview. "It's not going to be called Ghostbusters II. We'll burn in hell if we call it Ghostbusters II. I've suggested The Last of the Ghostbusters, to make sure there won't be anything like a Ghostbusters III."
"At least the guys behind Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties followed that advice."
The second draft was… closer to the final product. Imagine this movie.

The Ghostbusters go back into business to save a random mother and child from the ghost of a Carpathian tyrant named Vigo while a swarm of insects terrorizes the city. In the end, the team must save the day from the Statue of Liberty, which Vigo has weaponized. Dana Barrett has been replaced with Lane Walker, a new love interest for Peter Venkman. Janine and Winston barely bother to show up.

“So… pretty much my role in the first movie, then.”
They tweaked some stuff here, cut out stuff there, brought back Sigourney Weaver, and the script was finally… not completed. The higher ups wanted to make a few changes to make the movie more family-friendly. Like with the first movie, only more so. I’ll get to these changes as they pop up during the Recap.

Finally, in November of 1988, they were ready to film. And after thirteen weeks, principal photography wrapped up. Then came the buttload of fixes. See, the movie had three supernatural plotlines.
  1. Ghosts. Because it’s called “Ghostbusters II."
  2. Magic slime that feeds off hatred.
  3. The ghost of a Carpathian warlord attempting to be reborn as a human child.
Apparently, these plot points were just kind of there. It wasn’t until reshoots that they were all tied together in a way that… well, it still doesn’t all fit together. Mainly because they soon ran into another problem.

The film was slated to be released on June 23rd, which, as it turned out, was the same day Tim Burton’s Batman was going to be released. So the release date got bumped up to the 16th. The special effects guys at ILM were not happy. They were busting their butts already when the release date was moved up from July 4th, and now they had to redouble their efforts. So many of the effects had to be done by Visual Concept Engineering instead to meet the deadline. Ivan Reitman himself had to postpone working on Kindergarten Cop, which probably should have been postponed indefinitely.

But it was all worth it, right? I mean, the movie ended up with $112.4 million dollars at the U.S. box office, and $215.3 million worldwide!

…making it only the eighth-highest grossing movie of 1989. Which puts it just behind Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, but just ahead of The Little Mermaid.

“How the hell did my movie get ninth? Look Who’s Talking got fourth, for God’s sake.”
To be fair, that was a good year for movies. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Batman, Back to the Future Part II, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure… and Star Trek V. Well, they can’t all be gems.

But it had the biggest opening that year! Until…

"Hello again."
And when it came to the critical reaction, it’s a straight-up paradox.

Some say it’s too scary for kids, some say it’s not scary enough.

Some say the humor is too kid-oriented, some say the humor’s too adult for kids.

Some say it’s too much like the first movie, others say it diverges too much from the first movie.

Roger Ebert himself said that he saw the movie in a packed theatre in Michigan, where there was only one laugh during the entire movie. Geez, I didn’t know my people were that tough of a crowd. Surely, it can’t be that bad, right? Well, looks like it’s time to find out.

Coming up in Part 1! The boys are back! But not busting. Bummer.

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