Another Take On That Ghostbusters Film

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By Jay Connors.

Whenever a beloved movie franchise is rumoured or confirmed to be in the process of remake or reboot, there’s always a mist of controversy and outrage. Whether it’s modern Asian cinema given a localisation like ‘Infernal Affairs’ (remade as ‘The Departed’) and ‘Oldboy’, or essential parts of growing up like ‘The Karate Kid’ or ‘RoboCop’, panic often sets in before a frame has even been shot.

There’s usually cause for concern, with most films of this type often being cheap cash ins to a film series that has worn itself out, or simply failing to make its own unique mark which asks the question – why bother? But remakes have always had their part to play, ironically in the 80s with films like ‘The Fly’ and ‘The Thing’ being favourites that were remakes themselves, and most likely without the backlash we see today now 80s movies are ripe for the picking. With the concept of ‘rebooting’ a franchise now generally more accepted, with cheeky references to the original and cameos galore for fans to spot and geek out over, it’s no wonder ‘Ghostbusters’ was picked up for a fresh lick of paint.

Despite the 2nd film not having the same cultural impact as the original, much like ‘Predator’ which had its own reboot to some success only a few years ago, fans have been clamouring for a new instalment for so very long, and it looked to be on the table for years. Multiple scripts that didn’t meet the cut, along with an ageing cast (including the sadly departed Harold Ramis), meant the only chance for the 3rd film to go ahead would be to undergo a whole new direction. With Paul Feig (‘Bridesmaids’) at the helm, naturally the changeup would mean a female cast at the centre of things.

And so the internet exploded.

With ‘Bridesmaids’ and ‘Spy’ both being massive critical hits, with ‘The Heat’ also scoring respectable points in its own right, there’s no doubt that Feig is able to produce a movie that people like. Allowing him to create a new ‘Ghostbusters’ film should have been cause for celebration, as we otherwise could’ve ended up with a music video director and a handful of unknowns from MTV shows to appeal to the youth market. Does that really sound more pleasing?

Yet this is the situation we’re in, as it feels I can’t even talk about the quality of the movie without addressing this multiple year attempt to poison the well that came before release. Even as we speak, over 10,000 accounts (let’s not say people) have voted it a 1 on popular movie cesspool IMDb, despite the fact the vast majority haven’t seen it. We didn’t get this reaction when ‘Point Break’ was given a remake a mere 7 months ago (for reasons nobody understands to this day), so sadly we have to assume this is down to this new wave of anti-women hatred that has oozed itself so vocally out of the anonymous depths of the web in the last few years. “It’s destroyed my childhood!” simply doesn’t stand up, unless you want to be viewed as someone who hasn’t grown up one bit in 30 years.

And that’s one of several reasons that ‘Ghostbusters’ is important, if simply to challenge this viewpoint where it hurts them. And while it isn’t, and never was going to be, as ‘good’ as the original, its existence is welcome to so many.

It’s a positive thing that girls, who were so horribly represented on screen during the golden years most 30 something males enjoyed  while we grew up, are now shown they can be equally billed on a beloved franchise. The same people who were sad that the only character they were supposed to relate to in the classic version were a secretary or the ‘gatekeeper’, are now able to be the heroes. For a man or woman to be able to take their daughter to a big summer blockbuster where women kick ass with science, and have people to believe in and look up to is objectively a good thing.

The plot, now we’ve got all that out the way, revolves around the reunification of Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Abby (Melissa McCarthy) who went different paths in their science careers. Having confronted Abby over publishing a long forgotten and potentially embarrassing ghost theory book, Erin discovers their original beliefs were in fact true as New York City begins to be inundated with the undead. Together with fellow scientist Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and Patty (Leslie Jones), an MTA worker with an equally useful knowledge of the city, the pair form a society dedicated to proving the existence of ghosts.

And so it’s a shame, but not necessarily a problem, that ‘Ghostbusters’ isn’t a five star, absolute riot of a movie. It’s for the most part humorous rather than hilarious, and sometimes relies on aforementioned callbacks and cameos too much to get a (warranted) reaction from the audience, but has enough it gets right that it doesn’t matter. The plot borrows enough from the original while carving its own path, and both character design and equipment styling has been given a lot of care and thought. For fans of the original, it’s a fresh enough origin story with a very different cast and approach that should entertain, while younger audiences will be able to go in unbiased and understand why the world loved the Ghostbusters originally.

2016’s ‘Ghostbusters’ is very much a film of its time, with frequent references to technology and the backlash it provides that the original movie simply couldn’t comment on. It feels enough time has passed that society’s attitudes have shifted in a way that allows a different viewpoint to essentially the same base story.

While some more characterisation and relationship between the characters wouldn’t have gone amiss, the four leads work well together and feel natural picks for the role. Feig and Katie Dippold did solid work with giving us new characters that aren’t simply replicants of the classic cast, but have a bit of familiarity at the same time. Stand out star is Kate McKinnon, who for several years has been a fan favourite on ‘Saturday Night Live’, who might be quite divisive amongst viewers due to just how ‘out there’ her character is, but you simply can’t not be drawn to her whenever she’s on screen.

Outside of an appropriately SNL themed set of lead and side characters (Wiig is an ex-cast member, McCarthy has hosted several times, while Leslie Jones and Cecily Strong are current cast members) the under-utilised Neil Casey makes for a great villain, while Chris Hemsworth gets to show off his comic chops in an attempt to steal the crown from Channing Tatum in heartthrob-turned-funnyman roles.

Overall, ‘Ghostbusters’ is simply fun. Tune out the whining of people who insist this is all about attacking straight males, and enjoy the fact we get to bust some ghosts again for the first time in decades.

*** 1/2

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