What’s it all about?
Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore are the Ghostbusters and the year is 1984. Hang on? Sorry wrong synopsis. The year is 2016 and someone has decided to redo “Who ya gonna call?”. Are you ready to burn your DVD Copies of the much loved original or does girl power win the day? And if you really needed to know what this is all about, have you even seen the original?
The Hughes Verdict!
Is it safe to come out?
As its been over a week since this film has been released, I guess the negative vibe that surrounded this redo since the first trailer was aired, hasn’t quite caused the riot on the streets that the anger threatened. There is still some nasty and awful stuff going on though that makes me feel quite ashamed to be a film fan.
The backlash that has left its star Leslie Jones to temporary quit Twitter due to racist abuse is something that really needs to be addressed. This is a film, something that you can choose to watch or not. There is too much real stuff going around in this big world of ours that need more attention than a remake of a film.
I do understand fans who love Ghostbusters and pine for a proper third film and wish that an idea for a redo was never attempted. My love for Halloween is well known among long time readers of HCF and I was in utter dismay when Rob Zombie attempted to do a John Carpenter and bring Myers to a whole new generation. Even more so when his diabolical sequel was released. But you know what? I realised life goes on and now on every Halloween, the original gets put on while Zombie’s DVD (I need the entire franchise owned) gathers dust on the shelve.
The end of the day, if you want to burn your original copies in protest at this film then do so, but as for the knee jerk hysteria and vile hatred, just remind yourselves like an infamous horror film once told you to do “remember its only a film, its only a film” and besides despite a classic original, how bad as this remake got to be to match the awfulness of the original sequel back in 1989.
Does everyone remember the fact that Ghostbusters 2 made bustin feel bad?
So lets get to Paul Feig’s attempt at bringing the Ghostbusters to a whole new generation and I went into the cinema with an open mind. Out of all the HCF’s critics, I have been the one who has enjoyed the work of Feig the most. Bridesmaids cracked me up, damn Sandra Bullock for refusing to make it as while The Heat was OK, the idea for the sequel sounds deliciously dark. SPY also tickled my funny bones, mainly because of Jason Statham playing against type, so on paper, Feig could deliver against all the odds.
Lets get the positives in here first!
Unlike most remakes these days, this is not a straight forward redo which is a welcome thing. The film doesn’t start in a library with floating books and a terrified Librarian. We don’t see Kristen Wiig’s play electro therapy with a hunky man, while a poor girl gets zapped for saying the right answer and there is no ghostly hands coming out of a chair and dragging an innocent woman into a glowering fridge, this 2016 version moves away from the world of Zuul and while the blueprint of what we know is there, Feig plays with the formula and offers something a bit new.
Here Wiig’s Erin and Melissa McCarthy’s Abby are former colleagues, reunited over a dispute of a book that Erin once wrote and now want’s to forget, who along with Kate McKinnon’s engineer Jillian (the best of the whole bunch I may add) witness a ghost and in keeping with the narrative of the original, become the cities Ghostbusters. Leslie Jones’s Patty, like Ernie Hudson’s Winston, is the last to join up, playing a streetwise transit worker, whose knowledge of the city aids the team’s dynamic.
To break each character down, Wiig is the usual Wiig, playing it straight as a woman who once lost her belief in the ghostly world, despite a backstory that tried to ape the Gremlins “Father down the chute” scare but lacked the bite. Mckinnion steals the show as her zany approach and her trick of dancing while causing a fire actually brought a smile to my face. McCarthy’s character is not too dissimilar to her Susan Cooper from SPY and by now you either love or hate her acting style, While you can’t hide the fact that Jones seems to be playing a proper racial Stereotype with not even a gag acknowledging that!
The shocking part is that while the 1984’s counterparts had an amazing chemistry, put these four girls together and there is a zero spark. Despite Bridesmaids having a bond that sizzled onscreen and with both Wiig and McCarthy part of that crew, here its pretty evident that everything seems forced and when it comes across like that to the viewer, then the comedy struggles to come through.
As you can read, the positive vibe I started with a few lines back is slowly dwindling because despite me wanting to break with the norm and celebrate the fact that Feig and the crew have pulled it off, I can’t because this is a complete and utter mess of ectoplasm proportions.
Why? Because it gives fans the two things a Ghostbusters film should not be. Unfunny and non scary!
The original not only had heart but was funny and also terrifying for young children. I was seven years of age when I went to the cinema in 1984 and I remember laughing at Ray failing to clear his mind and choosing his own destructor in the shape of the Stay Puff Marshmallow man. But I also have that forever memory of clutching onto that cinema seat while Sigourney Weaver was being dragged into that fridge and then being possessed and telling a bemused Peter that she wants him “Inside her”. Yes 80’s horror for kids back then was quite horrific but damn it was cool!
You never once feel that this new generation in danger. The overuse of CGI and the Scooby Doo style ghosts become nothing more than a bloated mess towards the end, where the Ghostbusters just run around in circles and blasting what is in front of them. There is no menace, no thrills, just a plain blandness. Surely the children of 2016 deserve at least something to keep them up at night? Even the cartoon The Real Ghostbusters had episodes more scarier than this.
The biggest complaint I have is that the film is handcuffed in pleasing those who did not want this to be made. Instead of just focusing on the new team and getting a proper peril and comedy to proceedings, to much time is wasted in silly cameos that do more damage to the film than good. If I want to see Bill Murray in a Ghostbusters film then I want to see him as Peter Venkman, not as the character who pops up here and even worse, he is not even funny. I sat there open mouthed and thought “Is that it? You have spent years trying to get Murray back into this franchise and all we get is that?”. Its the same with Dan Aykroyd and Weaver whose cameos are simply there for fan service and their presence, like a ghost itself, ironically haunts the remake.
If they were willing to come back and do a cameo, then surely this could have been written so that its in the same universe as the original films, a mere passing of the torch? Take Ernie Hudson’s cameo for instance. That easily could have been done so who we are seeing is Winston and not this impostor.
Ironically the one person who carries the most laughs is Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth who in another role reversal plays a a dumb receptionist, hired for his looks and carries the butt of the jokes from the ladies. It kind of works and brought some chuckles to my funny bone and its the closet the film gets to Feminism in an odd way, considering all the furore of women being cast in a once all male roles.
There is a witty line in the film that goes “”Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts.” which is an obvious dig at the whole internet hatred while this was filming. The fact is, the quote is wrong. It does not matter who was wearing the Proton packs, if they were male or female, they would still suffer from a weak script and the fault clearly lays with not the cast but that of screen writer Katie Dippold and Feig himself.
Sadly there is a good film somewhere in all this, McCarthy and Wiig have shown in the past that they have a comedy touch, but here their relationship strains under a poor written story arc in which you sense is totally undeveloped. We never get to see the heart of what makes them both work, everything is too fast, one minute, not friends and then work colleagues. Its like they both know that what they are working with is not that great so they are trying to be funny and for two naturally funny comedians, its a strain to see. Mckinnion offers more laughs as she comes across more natural and at ease with her material and despite the questionable overtones, its clear that Jones can and should grow into the role and so you can’t help but shake the feeling of a “missed opportunity”.
I wanted to like this, I really did! I hate the fact that it seems that I am jumping on the bandwagon, but I will leave this review with a bit of hope and with a positive vibe.
With all the negativity before the film’s release and with the half arsed script they were delivered, it feels that these Ghostbusters have been dealt a tough hand, but free from the shackles of its original classic and a post credit scene that already delivers a promising sounding follow up, I find myself wondering that given a chance of a sequel, could this actually grow into something?
Because lets be honest……..their Ghostbusters 2 has to be better than the men’s Ghostbusters sequel…hasn’t it?