Monday, December 13, 2010

Return of the Ghostbusters

Three years after a new generation of Ghostbusters saved Denver from Freddy Krueger’s bladed glove, they’re still riding high on their fame as local heroes. Eugene died in a webcomic midquel and was replaced by Pavel Karnov. And like so many sequels, the magic Girlfriend Delete Button has been pressed so Neil can have a brand new romantic subplot.

Luckily for him, hot twentysomething reporter April Hunter is assigned to do an expose on the Ghostbusters, even though she’d rather be doing a report on a load of Egyptian artifacts discovered by Klaus Konstantin. The centerpiece of which is the Amulet of Anubis, which gives someone who knows how to use it all kinds of unholy powers.

Pavel used to be Konstantin’s assistant, and doesn’t think the guy can be trusted. Before long his suspicions are confirmed when Konstantin unleashes the amulet’s powers, and only the Ghostbusters can save the day.

Freddy vs. Ghostbusters was a fluffy movie that wouldn’t make you think, and even the real movies didn’t get too caught up in the particulars of what exactly the guys did. Return’s problem is it does want you to think, but isn’t sure how to deal with the consequences. It’s mentioned that people are starting to ask themselves where these cowboys with atomic backpacks get off cramming people’s souls into boxes. Insofar as the movie gives any answer at all, it seems to boil down to “If supernatural forces are threatening to destroy the world those same people are the only ones who can do anything about it. And if somebody's not paying them to imprison ghosts in their basement forever they can't afford to save us. So shut up.”

Conquering...I mean, saving the world! With SCIENCE!!
In fact, for something that calls itself a Ghostbusters movie, Return takes itself awfully seriously. Konstantin needs human souls to activate the amulet, but he doesn’t use ghosts. He steals a ghost trap and goes around sucking the souls out of living people, leaving a trail of lifeless bodies in his wake. Compare that to what they were trying to save the world from in the movie: a cartoon junk food mascot. Compare that to how Vigo was defeated in the sequel: the power of song. What jokes there are amount to things like “Listen to that! Ed’s ringtone is the Legend of Zelda music!”

All told, Return feels a lot more like a general action movie than a Ghostbusters film. It’s about three times as long as its predecessor and actually had an appreciable budget considering what kind of movie it is. The ghosts are more numerous, and the scenes showing Denver overrun by a legion of spooks are pretty good. Yet it also drags at times, the actors lack chemistry, and as mentioned it brings up questions it isn’t prepared to answer. And being three times as long as the battle with Freddy, it doesn’t have the luxury of having run its course before any questions the viewer has have the chance to sink in. Like, why does Konstantin want to make April his queen when he takes over the world? That was cliché when our parents were kids. Maybe it was explained in a cut scene, but then why was the pointless bar fight scene not cut down? Did they have some kind of deal with the owner?

I don't want to imply I hate this movie or went into it expecting the same things I do of a multi-million dollar film. It was a movie made by people who love Ghostbusters because they love Ghostbusters. I find that pretty admirable in and of itself, and they did a better job of making a supernatural action movie than I probably could've. But if the Denver Ghostbusters return again, please remember Ghostbusters is a horror-COMEDY.

It was this foul-mouthed game critic.

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