Return of the Ghostbusters (Review)
Return of the Ghostbusters
Directed by Hank Braxtan
The Ghostbusters are back, and they’re now in fan film form! Wait a minute…. A Ghostbusters fan film? Feature length? That’s crazy! What’s even crazier is it is a sequel! The original production was a half-hour fan film entitled Freddy Vs Ghostbusters, and that spawned this stand-alone sequel that attempts to remain true to the themes of the original Ghostbusters films while still trying to be not a carbon copy. Now, as this is a fan film, we can expect some of the acting to be a bit off. I won’t focus on wooden performances, but if someone is so bad they actually make it painful to watch their scenes I am going to point them out, because that’s what I do: be a jerk on the internet. But back off, man, I’m a scientist. Really, I am, which is great because I can use that line ironically and nonironically at the same time.
The film was produced by
I am a fan of the Ghostbusters franchise. I grew up with the films, I watched the cartoon, I drank the Hi-C, I own some Ghostbusters kids books. When the movie was released on DVD I rented it to watch the commentary, and my roommate at the time had never seen the film, so we watched it regularly. He was from China, and didn’t understand the term “ghostbuster” which wasn’t in his dictionary, but I explained what was going on and he enjoyed it.
We’ve had a fan film here before (Star Wars: Revelations) and will have some more later, but for now this Ghostbusters fan film is our focus. So whip out your Ecto Cooler, leash up your class-5 full roaming vapors, and prepare for a ride into fanfilm land with the Ghostbusters! Just remember not to cross the streams.
Return of the Ghostbusters opens like all Ghostbusters films, at a campfire in the middle of the woods, where some obnoxious teens are telling ghost stories. This ghost story takes an ironic twist as instead of a hook on a door an actual ghost comes flying out of the campfire. The teens are freaked out, but soon the Ghostbusters come thundering out of the forest and proton pack the snot out of the ghost, trapping his undead self in a ghost trap. The Ghostbusters confiscate the teenagers’ beer and when asked who they are, respond “We’re the Ghostbusters!” Begin credits.
The credits are some sort of remix of the theme that sounds like it mated with the theme from Tales From the Crypt. The whole beginning of the credits is running through a CGI canyon like some sort of older video game, but finally dumps into the familiar Ray Parker Jr. song and we get an opening credits montage, which looks oddly like the montage in the middle of Ghostbusters with the Ghostbusters running around as magazine covers fly by. As the story says this is just the Denver franchise, I am wondering why they would be on the cover of many national publications, but why not? I was voted Time Magazine‘s Person of the Year this year. Several of the magazine covers are homages to ones in the original films, which is nice.
It turns out all of this montage is just a news report from some station that doesn’t skimp on the video effects budget. The narration also serves to give us an intro for the characters, the three Ghostbusters we Roll Called earlier, Neil Anderson, Ed Spengler, and Pavel Karnov. This news footage is watched by a rival channel, at which April Hunter is employed as a reporter. April is upset at being passed over for the anchor position, but her bald boss Chief Jinks (played by Keith Cunningham) dismisses her anger and tells her to get better news stories, like the Ghostbusters, and not to waste time with losers like Egyptologist Klause Konstantin who she is going to interview later. Cameraman Gallagher (Heath C. Heine) and April go to interview the Ghostbusters.
At Ghostbusters Headquarters (another fire station), the Janice-type secretary character Annie chats with a hung-over Neil Anderson, who seems to have made short work of the confiscated beer. April calls to set up an interview, and when Neil realizes who it is he agrees to meet her, alone, as Ed and Pavel are filming Science Universe with Ed Spengler, which is like Bill Nye for kids who like boring science shows. Neil starts off the interview by setting the ceiling on fire with a proton pack, then shutting down the containment unit (which if you recall from the original film, will cause all the ghosts to escape.) Ed is called away from his TV show to fix the problem, and then April mentions some stuff about ghosts having souls and rights, and then leaves. The whole “souls” thing was never addressed by the original films, because if you overanalyze all this stuff it just comes up ridiculous. So they should probably not bother here in this film, except they will. Neil follows April out to try hitting on her, because she has a heartbeat and a hole.
Interview time with Dr. Klause Konstantin who is in a wheelchair despite the fac we don’t get told that until the next scene (Spoilers.) Klause reveals he found the Amulet of Anubis, which has the power of Anubis. That’s great, but what the heck is an Anubis? Luckily Ed is watching the interview on TV and can explain it to the rest of us, because that’s easier than having the characters look up Wikipedia entries. Anubis is the Egyptian god of the dead, and if Klause found the Amulet of Anubis, he has power of Anubis if he can translate the markings. This will allows him to devour souls like they were Skittles. Klause lets slip he wants to taste the rainbow when he goes and looks evil while mentioning harnessing the power of the amulet. A tip to any potential supervillains out there: don’t give away your evilness until you already have your plan completed. Pavel and Ed go to a bar so the director can give some friends cameos and then a bar fight can break out (including a neat scene where Ed uses a pool ball in a sock as a weapon.)
Ed is hard at work on a new proton pack – the neutrino pack, but has to stop to post bail for Ed and Pavel. April and Klause apparently went on a date, but she gives him the “just interview” speech. Klause gets call from The Board of Labrat Enterprises, saying his funding is cut. Klause yells at them that he has a better weapon, a soul eating weapon–in front of April! Then he yells at her, while she responds with mace. Klause must be bipolar or something. Or biroller since he’s in a wheelchair.
At the network, Ed replaced as host by Levar Gordon, who is hip, black, and also super smart. He is not a fan of ghostbusting, and loudly says so. Maybe Ed should get a personality installed before he tries hosting another TV show. Klause has committed to evil and needs a soul to power the amulet to turn it on…he will use the Ghostbusters to get one. Or he could buy one on eBay (six souls were listed at the time I wrote this review.) The News Chief wants more Ghostbusters stories where they look bad, over April’s objections. He says he will make her anchor by the end of the month is she does so, so she shall. Klause drugs Annie (somehow I think this guy is an expert in date rape drug use) and steals a ghost trap from the Ghostbusters’ Headquarters, then steals soul from a homeless bum in the alley. The movie works on the premise that if you look at the open ghost trap it will steal your soul, which isn’t really from the films but work with me here, people! Klause activates the amulet, but will get more souls to be more powerful.
The Ghostbusters go on a mission to get ghosts from a local theater, where Ed brings the new neutrino pack with them. Ed says it could form a black hole if it goes nova (but no word on what would happen if you cross the proton pack streams with the neutrino pack streams. I predict you’d get so many digital effects Jar Jar Binks spontaneously appears to curse your movie.) Pavel uses an Ecto-motion tracker to look for ghosts in a movie homage that came way out of left field. The team snags the ghosts, but Klause steals the souls of everyone in the theater waiting outside and then makes a call to the news channel to blame the Ghostbusters. There is still one ghost left, until Neil tries out the new pack and ends up blowing the ghost up. Ed yells at him for destroying a soul, but then they notice everyone unconscious in the lobby. As April interrogates them, Ed blabs something about the neutrino pack malfunctioning and maybe that causing the mess. All of this is cut short when a terrible actor reads lines as a newscaster character. His performance is distractingly bad, but after cautiously listening to his lines we are told more coma victims (people whose souls are removed) are piling up around the city. Neil and April talk, argue, and somehow arrange a date.
Ghostbuster protesters (protestbusters? ghosttesters?) arrive to rant against the soul stealing, while Neil and April go on their date and Federal Agents (Agents J and K in case you were wondering what movie they are referencing now) show up to question the Ghostbusters as someone finally found the unconscious body of the homeless bum. After Annie says “dropping off or picking up?” and we get an argument over Batman and Robin), Ed uses his EKG meter on the bum and detects no soul. The cops won’t let Ed run any tests, until distracted by angry protester Levar, so then Ed and Annie take the body inside to run tests.
After April’s date with Ed, Klause is in her apartment and gives April one last chance to join him, than he tries to steal her soul, but is interrupted by the super (who then gets his soul taken a few moments later.) April tells the Ghostbusters what happened the next day. Ed figures out Klause is stealing souls, and as Ed knows Pavel Karnov is former student of Klause he asks what will happen next. We get some random Neil rage who didn’t know Pavel was a former student of Klause’s, and he storms off for some reason or another. I wasn’t even aware Neil not knowing about Pavel was a big issue or anything, and I can only blame tha failure on the filmmakers. Also, apparently the government took almost all the Ghostbusters’ equipment when we weren’t looking, except the neutrino pack and some traps. That might have been a good scene to throw in, movie! Plus, someone needs to explain why they left the most dangerous pack behind. That’s like airport security taking my water away but letting me keep my suitcase nuclear bomb. Which is something airport security probably would do.
Everything is interrupted when there is an explosion outside, and what looks like the containment failure scene from the original film happens. Instead of containment failure, it is a portal opening, causing lots of ghosts to run rampant in the city. They attack dumpsters, get passed by buses, and have odd Asian men take photos of them. The Ghostbusters tell the mayor that Klause opened a portal to call Amun or something, and the mayor just buys their story immediately (this film is missing the Walter Peck-type character so it avoids the mayor-not-believing subplot) and gives them their equipment back. Neil is still sulking until a random underage girl sits to chat with him for some reason known as bad writing. She does some sort of pep talk and then points to the giant ghost portal as to why she’s leaving the city, which is the first Neil has seen of the portal, due to his lack of peripheral vision. He rushes back to headquarters, while Ed and Pavel go to the building with the portal (with April and her cameraman in tow.) She broadcasts across the country, and one of the many people shown to be watching it is The Angry Video Game Nerd James Rolfe. That’s a random cameo but welcome. Pavel and Ed reach Klause who does the standard villain rant about cleansing the planet, and is immune to pack blasts. Instead, he calls a giant ghost dragon thing, which is not made of marshmallows nor a national monument.
Ed goes to fight the dragon while Pavel will try to reason with Klause (which we know won’t work.) Ed also runs into Lamar, who tries to arrest Ed until the dragon flies by and Levar finally realizes some ghosts aren’t any good. Now Levar is driving Ecto-1 throughout Denver while Ed fires a proton cannon from the roof at the dragon, the blasts hitting buildings all over Denver and causing much carnage. I think Ed does like thirty times as much damage as the dragon. The blasts have no effect, so instead they will try to herd it, and do so into the portal, where it burns up and dies for reasons known only to the screenwriters (one of which just herded the thing into the portal!)
The chase is on!
Ed and Levar rejoin Pavel to blast Klause (Lavar now has a proton pack on as well.) They suck all the souls out of Klause’s amulet by using two ghost traps, but it is too late as a portal opens and an ugly demon dog thing that is either Anubis, Amun, or a random other Egyptian god starts trying to climb into our universe. They blast that doggy, but their power is not enough until Neil arrives with the neutrino pack and blasts it back. They showed that prehistoric bitch how they do things in Denver. Klause then jumps into the portal, where there are plenty of random souls to power his amulet again. Also, the neutrino pack is going critical, and if you remember that means a black hole will be created. I’m sure you see where the movie is going with this, and soon the neutrino pack is tossed into the other universe, where it explodes and blows that universe up. Which somehow closes the portal without any damage to our universe except a Death Star explosion shockwave flashing over Denver.
Hey, it’s over, the Ghostbusters are heroes again, Ed will get all the souls back to their rightful owners, and the credits roll. Credits with more film for a bit, like in the movies, except here Neil proposes to April. Also, Ed is cohosting the show with Levar now, and even will host the Oscars, which can’t be worse than many of the recent hosts. And thus the film ends with the real credits, and we bid a fond farewell to these Ghostbusters.
For $2000 this is a pretty decent film. The special effects are above average, and some of the acting isn’t painful. There are some story problems, some things that aren’t explained that should be, and a few random diversions that seem to have no reason to be in the film except to add in some cameos, all of which detract from the film. However, it is a bunch of amateurs, not professionals, so one does not expect perfect story telling. I am sure if more fan films are made they will only increase in quality story-wise, because the more you write the better you get. Unless you are Robert Jordan, in which case the more you write the less happens and the paragraphs about clothes get longer and longer. Then you die. Heinlein’s stuff got pretty terrible after the mid-1970’s as well. I’m way off topic here, but this is a free film and I am sure the creators would be delighted that you watch it. If you are fanfilm adverse, this is probably not the film to take a chance on, but if you don’t mind genre references, geek humor, and low quality acting, then Return of the Ghostbusters is better than any random Lions Gate DVD you’ll find at Blockbuster. So who you gonna call?
We’re ready to believe you!
Rated 6/10 (Amulet Jewel, The Super, Ghost Bird, WTF, Ghost Dude, Skinny Slimer)