Sunday, July 31, 2011

On Second Thought: Equilibrium and Ghostbusters II

This past Thursday night, the Toronto Underground theatre held another instalment of its wonderful Defending the Indefensible series. The premise of the series is simple, two individuals, be it critics, bloggers, or a combination of the two, get in front of an audience and debate why they either love or hate a particular film. The film is then screened for the audience. Afterwards the audience can ask questions to the participants based on what they just saw. The best part is that all the proceeds go to charity. This week's edition featured Sasha James defending Equilibrium and Matt Brown slamming Ghostbuster II.

In this science fiction action tale, the world has suffered through three World Wars and cannot live through another one. The leaders of the dystopian city of Libria, see the elimination of human emotion as the only way to prevent another war. Using medication to suppress desire and expression and an elite task force, known as Cleric to seek out anyone who may be violating the "Sense Offense" laws, the Council keeps its citizens in check. When Cleric John Preston's (Christian Bale) partner, Errol Partridge (Sean Bean), is found guilty of violating the laws, Preston is a assigned a new partner Brandt (Taye Diggs). They are commissioned with finding the underground resistance movement, who are promoting the right to feel, and destroy them once and for all. Yet when Preston begins to interrogate a beautiful resistance member, Mary O'Brien (Emily Watson), the lines between what he has been told is right and what he is starting to feel are blurred.

Equilibrium is a film that was clearly influenced by The Matrix and practically every science fiction film ever made. I remember being on the fence, in regards to my feelings towards Equilibrium, when I originally viewed the film several years ago. I had enjoyed the stylized gun play, referred to as "Gun Kata", but found elements of the story lacking. This time around, I realized just how silly Equilibrium really is, and the film take itself way too seriously. Having said that, I must say that I had a lot of fun watching it with an audience, I originally saw it on DVD, as the majority seem to revel in the absurdity of it all. To say that Equilibrium has some potholes would be a huge understatement. The leaps in logic throughout the film are just astounding. Scenes are sloppily thrown together to form a bridge of sorts between all the Gun Kata.

Original Reaction: I have no emotion (Grade C)
On Second Thought: I feel like taking Gun Kata on this whole production. (Grade D)

Ghostbusters II

Picking up five years after the events of the previous film, Ghostbusters II finds our fun loving paranormal fighting team on hard times. They have been sued by the city of New York for all the destruction they caused while saving the city. Bankrupt, The Ghostbusters have been forced to close up shop and take jobs, some of which are rather demeaning, elsewhere. However when they discover a river of ectoplasm flowing beneath New York, the team is determined to find its source. Little do they know that the ectoplasm is linked to a 17 century sorcerer, Vigo the Carpathian, looking for a new body to host his spirit. Fortunately for Vigo he does not have to look too far as Dana’s (Sigourney Weaver) infant son fits the bill perfectly.

Having a fondness for The Ghostbusters series I was interested to see how Matt Brown would take it apart. While he made some solid points against the film, I found that my love for the film did not waiver enough for me to consider it a bad film. Yes, the last act of the film is much weaker than I had remembered. It really does squander all the energy that the film had built to that point. Yet I find that the first half is the film’s saving grace. Bill Murray is hilarious in this section as he generates big laughs with the simplest of facial expressions. Everything from when his character, Dr. Peter Venkman, is hosting the physic centric television show to his attempts at winning back Dana’s heart is comedic gold. In fact the entire cast is solid in the first half of the film; I even enjoyed the relationship between Louis (Rick Moranis) and Janine (Annie Potts) a lot more this time around. Despite the obvious flaws with the last act, I still think Ghostbusters II is an entertaining comedy that still offers plenty to enjoy.

Original Reaction: Who am I going to call? Ghostbusters! (Grade A-)
On Second Thought: Who am I going to call? Ghostbusters! (Grade B)


  1. Great post! It's been a while since I've seen either of these but I've been hearing more about them recently due to this screening. My original thoughts on EQUILIBRIUM mirror yours, but I never re-watched it to see if would get worse or better the second time around. I have a feeling... worse!

    I was always more freaked out by GHOSTBUSTERS II when I was younger since the haunted painting was scary. I can't really remember the ending, though, which I guess proves it's not that effective.

  2. I love me some Equilibrium. One of those movies where you can just sit there and mindlessly enjoy the entertainment.

    Ghostbusters 2 has to catch me in the right mood for me to really enjoy it. Rick Moranis was absolute money in this film, though. To say that his character has inspired many drunken outbursts at strangers after closing time would be an understatement.

  3. I still like Equilibrium and Ghostbusters II. The former is just mindless entertainment featuring a kick-ass Christian Bale. The latter may not be as good as the first but anything that has Bill Murray being cool wins me over.

  4. @Alex – I had forgotten the ending as well prior to seeing the film again. The ending consisted of the Ghostbusters using the ectoplasm to bring the Statue of Liberty to life so they could break into the museum. It is completely forgettable.

    @Red – Thing with Equilibrium is that is does not have the level of action I thought it had. Once you see Bale using the Gun Kata moves a few times it gets pretty stale fast.

    For me, the mindless film I enjoy watching is The Fast and The Furious. The film is silly but it entertains me nonetheless.

    As for Ghostbusters, I completely agree with you about Rick Moranis. He was my second favourite person in the film besides Murray. Moranis’ scene in the court room had me laughing out loud.

    @thevoid – Oddly enough I do not think any other actor could have played that part better than Bale. He can do stoic quite well.

    Bill Murray is reason enough to sit through Ghostbusters II again and again. If you ignore the final act it is still a decent film.

  5. See I really wanted to like Equilibirum. I re watched it again recently just incase I got it wrong. But no I still hated it...shocking!!

    But Ghostbusters are Ghostbusters....My heroes!! HAHAH

  6. @Custard – I think the fact that it initially had a small release is why we all wanted to pull for the film. Almost as a way of saying “the studio messed up again”. Yet in this case, the studio was right to keep Equilibrium on the shelf as long as it did.

  7. Oh you hated Equilibrium? lol :)

    It's a movie that needed a much bigger production budget. It's a bit corny and campy but I enjoyed the premise of the film.

  8. @Castor – A bigger budget would have helped a bit, but I think the plot needed major work.

  9. I have always thought Ghostbusters was a brilliant sequel. But, like the first film, the cast make it work so well. I don't think the new Ghostbusters film will be half as good because of that fact.

    Like Alex said, the ghost in the painting was freaky - it scared me as a kid. But I just love the use of music and walking the Statue of Liberty across the river to save the day - what a great ending.

  10. @Dan – I recently read that there may not be a third Ghostbusters as Bill Murray is holding out. Apparently he was not a fan of the second film which is surprising as he did such a great job in it.

  11. I'm the opposite of you on both of these films. I liked Equilibrium quite a bit. I wasn't looking for anything more than an action film and it really delivered. I think Bale is better in this than in some other overhyped action films he has appeared in.

    As for Ghostbusters 2 I was barely a fan of the first one and the second one had me wondering when it was going to be over and I could stop watching it. I didn't find it very entertaining at all.

  12. I haven't seen either of the Ghostbusters flicks in years...something I should remedy soon. Something tells me that the effects in the two of them look worse than most of films of their day, though.

    I saw Equilibrium for the first time not long ago, and would agree that it's pretty ridiculous. It's still an enjoyable watch, though, and at least brings interesting action to the table. I was bothered less by The Matrix ripping and more by the "every other sci-fi film [or book] made" aspect, as I was practically screaming "Fahrenheit 451!!!" during the opening few minutes.

  13. @Dylan – Actually, the effects in Ghostbusters were not as dated as I thought they would be. Sure they are not fantastic but still adequate enough.

    The thing with Equilibrium is that I remembered the action being more diverse. However, upon seeing it again, it is just the same moves repeated over and over. Plus the final action sequence is not as exciting as I had remembered it being.

  14. @Chip – Equilibrium’s action scenes just did not hold up for me this time around.

    You are not alone in your dislike for Ghostbusters II, I know several people who cannot stand the film.


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