Synopsis – Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.
My Take – I have always dismissed the idea of a remake or a reboot of a successful franchise, seriously why fix something which is not broken? Sony‘s main mistake was a rather unfunny first trailer that suggested that Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy‘s team up magic had finally spluttered out. The second trailer was much better, but once the naysayers had grabbed on to the first they were NOT letting go, no sir! But knowing director Paul Feig is the man behind the camera, I decided to keep my mind open, mainly if you all remember the trailer of Spy (2015) kinda sucked too, and we all know how that turned out. Growing up I did watch the original films & the animated series, but being more of a superhero geek, I would not call myself “a huge fan” of the Ivan Reitman film or the franchise in general. Walking into the special screening of this all female led cast film I kept a skeptical mind. And now I can assure you, this reboot is not the childhood crushing disaster that some feared after less than seller trailers, but a colorful, extremely fun, very funny romp of a re- take on a classic. The good news for Feig fans is that this film is almost as enjoyable as the original.
A definite reboot and not a sequel, it nonetheless acknowledges the original with some nice touches and a few well placed cameos that serve to pass the baton. One that spends just the right amount of time paying sometimes cheeky, but always respectful homage to the original (with fantastic cameos from all of the living original cast) without being a slave to it. It cheerfully moves with its own style and its own brand of humour, which is consistently delightful thanks to the very genuine chemistry of the four leads. Each character is distinctive and quirky and the ghosts are purposefully stylized in a way that lends itself well to the bombastic tone of the movie. There are gadgets and techie jargon to satisfy the nerdiest of fans, and a surprising amount of scares. Everyone was well aware that they had some pretty huge shows to fill, and obviously put a lot of work in, with the end result a well acted, well written and technically impressive whole. It saddens me deeply that this film has been surrounded by such blind hate from people who refuse to let go of the original 1984 film and act like its mandatory to be offensive about this one. The movie kept me entertained for the full duration, there were even some moments that left me surprised by their brilliance and there is plenty of fan service to be enjoyed including some familiar faces thrown in to the mix as cameos, but enough said about that. The story follows Erin (Kristen Wiig), a scientist, who finds out that her paranormal investigation book, written by her younger self and her childhood friend/ fellow scientist Abby (Melissa McCarthy), has been released onto the internet. Afraid that this fantastical book will ruin her reputation, Erin hunts down Abby, and her colleague Jillian (Kate McKinnon) who are paranormal scientists. While investigating a haunting in order to secure funding, the trio find out that someone is amplifying paranormal activity in New York in order to break the barrier between the living and the dead. After some successful public attempts, the trio form an independent organisation to catch and study ghosts. When the trio look into a subway haunting, they meet Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), possibly the friendliest and most helpful MTA employee ever, whose vast knowledge of New York City history makes her a clear choice to round out the team. Joining them is also their all brawn no brain assistant Kevin (Chris Hemsworth). The rest of the story doesn’t slavishly remake Ghostbusters so much as respectfully riff on it, with nods to the original both big and small. Things start well enough: characters are built, plots are set in motion, but the whole business of catching ghosts feels like it comes incredibly easy. In fact, once the team busts their first ghost, it feels like maybe 30 minutes of the plot have been cut out and we’re right near the end of the movie. That’s how quickly things happen. Remember the montage in the first movie where we see the Ghostbusters learning to do their job? This movie doesn’t have that type of scene. What there is instead is a bunch of tech jargon and gadgetry all throughout the movie. Most of the gadgets are incredibly cool but the proton packs seem to have a bigger arc than many of the characters. There’s also plenty of quasi-scientific gobbledygook to appease hardcore fans and/or executive producer Dan Aykroyd. And yet, after all that, the movie is simply fun. You’d think saying the movie’s story and main villain aren’t very good would really be damning but everything else Feig and his cast are doing is electric and makes up for it. The cataclysmic escalation of the third act must be seen to be believed. Set pieces before that are dripping with humour and beautiful effects. And the 3D! This is a movie you have to see in 3D, as Feig has the slime and proton charges exploding off the edges of the frame. It’s a visceral delight.
Is the humour as sophisticated as the originals? Probably not being honest, but that’s not to say it isn’t funny, the humour is just different, drawn from modern pop culture and is slightly feminine in nature with a bit of the old kids will laugh but the adults will really get it thrown in. I genuinely also found parts of this film scary. There is a lot of camp and comedy, but there’s a couple of bits that are somewhat harrowing. Some of the ghosts are creepy-looking, and although we as an audience know there’s no risk to any of the main characters, it’s still a bit scary. I like that. The balance of horror and comedy is very palatable. It doesn’t stray into territory that is too dark or unforgiving, but horror does help the narrative. There are moments where the continuity seems a bit iffy, and the ghosts aren’t uber-realistic looking. They’re more resemblant of mid-2000s Scooby Doo-itis, but that’s okay! Let’s be frank, we’re not looking for a Ghostbusters movie to be gritty. It’s a comedy- horror, not any sort of Paranormal Activity nonsense. Of my few complaints, one would be that the villain is noticeably under-developed in a way that is detrimental to the plot. While this complaint could also be levied at the original too, it feels more noticeable here. This also creates pacing issues which are problem from act 2 onwards and the emotional climax of the movie, as well as the weight the stakes hold for the Ghostbusters personally, suffer for it. Is this movie perfect? No, not at all. The cameos were forced (Ozzy), and there was some dialogue and scenes which weren’t great (I didn’t really like the shooting in the crotch or buddy saving scenes), but I still think this film is solid, and entertaining. The four women share a palpable enjoyment of each other’s company, and Feig may love his cast and characters more than Reitman, who ceded much of the 1984 movie to Bill Murray (as one does when Bill Murray is around). The filmmakers’ obvious affection, and the central quartet’s near-instant rapport, makes up for the Abby/Erin relationship not fully providing the kind of emotional grounding that Dippold and Feig obviously intend. The performances were pretty solid from every department and the chemistry worked fairly well. Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig might not have been stand-outs, but they were certainly solid leads. McCarthy toned down the McCarthy most people associate with her, and we get a good team leader. Leslie Jones‘ character added good humour, I could tell from the scene in her subway booth she was going to be good. Hemsworth, in a relatively small and simple role, is absolutely hilarious every time he’s on screen. It’s a performance that goes way beyond the bounds of anything he’s done before, but he makes what would normally be a pretty repetitive role, playing the brain- dead receptionist, hugely funny, adding an extra level of humour to the film beyond the four leading ladies. But the person who was even funnier than Hemsworth was Kate McKinnon. Throughout the film, I’m certain that she accounted for 90% of the biggest laugh. She plays the bizarre but brilliant scientist, to absolute perfection, with an on-point balance between purely bizarre humour and side-splitting physical comedy, making her the brightest spot at the centre of this hugely funny movie. Andy Garcia is passable as the mayor. The film triumphed over the pre-release criticisms that this was pandering to feminism. The issue didn’t cross my mind at all. The characters and the actors were enjoyable. There was a decent explanation to all the ghostbusters’ reasons for being part of the team. You’d have to enter the cinema wanting to be annoyed at this for it to actually be an issue. On the whole, ‘Ghostbusters’ may not be a perfect film, but it sure is a fun, energetic and visually awesome take on the franchise and I’d happily sit through it again. A sequel, though seemingly doubtful, wouldn’t be so bad in my books.
Directed – Paul Feig
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 116 minutes