9.21.2009

TEN SOMEWHAT ADEQUATE SEQUELS : PART FOUR


Why it's better
It's not. There's no way it could be. But, there are some movies--not many--that almost require a sequel. Sometimes to logically continue or wrap up the story, or, in the case of Ghostbusters II, because it has palpable serial potential. Ghostbusters had that, due to its discernible similarity to a superhero franchise: an inherently endless amount of weapons, cars, & villains. & GB2 follows through on that--kinda.
They changed the car up a bit - for the worst - and introduced a few new gadgets utilizing the power of slime (which is more of an advance in the mythology than the props). Perhaps the only things that were dead-on were the villain and the soundtrack (more on that later). And by villain, I mean Viggo, and not the slime.
Viggo is smaller than Gozer; not in physicality, but in scope and in threat (which is a welcome twist). While his worldly intentions may be roughly the same, he puts Dana's child in danger, making the target of harm more personal than, say, a giant marshmallow man.

Why it's worse
Part one had an amazing soundtrack - one of the best. & yes - part two's is extremely notable. The score, on the other hand...
Admittedly, it's taken me years to make sense of what it is about part two that feels so 'off.' I mean, it really is more or less the same stuff; like MIB2, Ernie Hudson takes 20 seconds of the first act to deliver some of the most clumsy expository dialogue ever written for the function of ignoring the first movie. & from that point on, the whole structure is rebuilt to mirror part one. So, why doesn't it feel like Ghostbusters?
With hindsight, the obvious answer is the clear influence of the cartoon, The Real Ghostbusters. Part two is certainly sillier/lighter, & while I never really gave a shit about slimer, he clearly got a 'revamp' in the movie to appeal more to kids.
And, as a side note -- It's amazing just how silly Rick Morranis was in part one, and yet, somehow, comes off as a caricature in part two. How is that possible, given his level of silliness in one? This isn't rhetorical - can anyone explain it?
And in trying to be more like the cartoon, it resulted in simply not being funny. And when you throw it up against one of the greatest comedies of all time, it just never had a chance.
So, even still being aware of all of these points -- same cast, crew, structure -- it still should've felt like Ghostbusters; or, at the very least, Ghostbusters II.
And so, here is a study in how important music is to a film: Elmer Bernstein was replaced by Randy Edelman -- as well as on all Reitman films to follow.
I like Randy Edelman - if only for his Gettysburg music. And, even putting aside the fact that his music for GB2 sucks real bad, the real flaw is that it's not Elmer Bernstein. Yeah, his score for one is great, but, great or not, therein lies the lacking familiarity that would have saved it.

"Doesn't that sound nice?"

1 comment:

Tyler Foster said...

As a lifetime fan of Ghostbusters, let me offer my two cents to this mix. I agree that Ghostbusters, like Men in Black, had its integrity diluted by the cartoon, forcing the film to pander to both kids and adults alike. But watching it this year, I finally figured out what I think, above all, is wrong with it, and that's that the movie, unlike the original, treats the actors like stars, and individual ones at that. There are more one-person cutaways and "staging" of each joke in Ghostbusters II than there are in Ghostbusters, and it's deadly to the loose, potentially ad-libbed humor of the original. When Louis makes jokes to the judge, he walks right up to the camera and does it. The "I hate Jell-O" line also gives individual shots to Hudson and Murray. There are other examples, but that, to me, is the essence of the problem. Scenes where the group is together are notably better, like when they're in Dana's apartment, when they're down in the river of slime, and when the Vigo photographs catch fire.

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