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Review - 'Ghostbusters'

Review - 'Ghostbusters'

Everyone loves the Ghostbusters, we get it. We know the theme song, we know the characters, we’ve all seen shit that’ll turn you white, but once Hollywood announced the remake of Ghostbusters and that it would include an all-female cast, it was nothing but cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria. There were people calling it out as sexist and feminist while others simply thought that it shouldn’t have been made at all, which can be said for just about every remake; however, what remakes can do is give us new opportunities, new directions, and most of all new ideas. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the greatest remake in disguise and it’s one of the highest grossing movies of all time. It brought old and new fans together like the Prequels never could and made fans’ imaginations run wild in anticipation of what’s to come in future films. We should expect the same of this new Ghostbusters. The original Ghostbusters came out thirty-two years ago and the closest fans received to a third movie was the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 video game, which is a pretty decent game and encapsulated everything I love about the Ghostbusters, but it certainly felt like that was the story Akroyd and Raymis wanted to end on, leaving it open for a new generation to take charge.  The point is this: “The franchise rights alone will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams.”-Peter Venkman, Make America Believe Again. This remake needed to happen and Ghostbusters needed to be revived. I want to see more ghostbusting, I want to listen to techno jargon banter between new characters, I want to see new proton packs and weapons and in general, I just want more Ghostbusters. The original will always be there to watch and love at any time so there’s no reason not to let someone take a shot at the franchise, even if the end result is as average of a film as they come.

Forewarning, Ghostbusters 2016 is a complete remake with absolutely no ties to the original besides awkward cameos, ostracized quotes, and similar plot progression to the original.

The film stars Kristin Wiig as Erin Gilbert, a teacher at Columbia University who discovers that a book pertaining to the supernatural she wrote with her friend, Abby Yates played by Melissa McCarthy, is circulating around the web. Having abandoned such theories and beliefs, Erin confronts Abby, who is now working together with Kate McKinnon, the cooky yet brilliant engineer Jillian Holtzmann. When a man with a ghost problem comes calling, Abby and Holtzmann set off to hunt for evidence. Erin reluctantly joins them and they run into their first apparition, leading to a change of heart in Erin. The rest of the film plays out similarly to that of the original: They’re thrown out of their college and set off to create their own business of their own, later meeting Patty Talon, played by Leslie Jones. With their powers combined, they form the Ghostbusters and together they must thwart the evil plans of Neil Casey’s Rowan North and prevent the next apocalypse.

The story isn’t anything to write home about. The remake follows a lot of the same plot progression as the original film while introducing only a few new concepts to the Ghostbusters mythos. The worthy additions are of course the female leads, though I would have liked more development with Holtsmann, who we only got to see shine very briefly at the end. Kate McKinnon spends most of the film playing a quirky kind of crazy with that character, using a lot of physical comedy while not providing any real emotional attachment. Kristen Wiig is great as always and she plays Erin quite well, with slight homages to Venkman. Melissa McCarthy plays it surprisingly low key compared to her other roles, often sentimentally soft spoken with only a few outbursts, but it’s a side of McCarthy I would like to see more of rather than the obnoxious, narcissistic characters she normally plays. Leslie Jones tells it like it is and plays a great counter to that of the other ladies, very much like Winston in the original. Other worthy additions are that of Holstman’s cool new weapons designs including proton pistol whips, a shockwave proton gauntlet, a ghost shredder, and some plasma grenades.  Unfortunately, with the the good, there is some bad. The biggest flaw the movie has is its villain in Rowan North. He’s as generic as they come, wroughting the apocalypse for petty, shallow reasons, and more annoyingly, reasons which are only told to the audience by the character himself rather than shown. In a lot of ways, he’s a Scooby-Doo villain, he’s just... there. The film spends little to no time with Rowan and he’s only there to progress the plot. The film’s true villain is Chris Hemsworth as the Ghostbusters’ receptionist, not because he’s an antagonist but because he’s the heel of the movie. He’s only there to act stupid and get some laughs. He’s not terrible, in some scenes he’s actually quite hilarious, often channeling Tom Hanks playing himself in Celebrity Jeopardy, but he truly is an idiot. An adorable idiot. I love and hate his character at the same time.

The comedy overall falls a little flat for me. I really like Director Paul Feig and there are a few solid jokes here and there, but it really saddens me when the characters of Abby and Holtsmann are introduced with a fart joke. Really, a fart joke? In Ghostbusters? Okay, Slimer is the one exception to the rule, get off my back. There is one recurring joke between McCarthy and an asian food delivery man that made me laugh but the film is often self-referential and lingers too heavily on pop culture references. There is also too much quipping between characters during otherwise serious moments and they often linger on the jokes longer than they should. In the middle of the film, they inadvertently kill a character and when pleading innocence with a police officer, they’re making Patrick Swayze jokes between one another before reverting their attention back to the task at hand. Also, the world of the new Ghostbusters doesn’t at all feel grounded. There was a semblance of reality in the original and with it a sense of threat from the ghosts and a fear that the heroes could be seriously injured.

The effects are decent for the most part. The ghosts have some cool designs but there’s a very Eddie-Murphy-Haunted-Mansion-like quality to them, all of them emitting an obviously CGI bright blue hue, making the effects feel cheap and dated. The final act’s Godzilla-sized villain does look pretty good though and the final battle has some really fun moments but it’s bogged down by the now overuse slow motion action sequence resembling that of every superhero movie that’s come out in the last ten years.

The cinematography was a major con of mine. Everything feels too small in scope and the camera is so focused on room-scale scenes, they forget that the Ghostbusters should embody New York City, just as, say, Spider-Man does. Nobody wants to see a Spider-Man movie that focuses primarily on Peter Parker and Mary Jane talking in their apartment for a half hour (I would because I love those characters), the audience wants to see high flying swinging Spidey and a lively New York watching him from below with wonder. The exact situation takes place in this film. After the Ghostbusters makes their first catch, there’s a good twenty to thirty minutes spent in their upstairs facility where they make poor jokes and just banter back and forth until a cameo eventually makes the situation even more awkward. They technically only catch one ghost before the final act of the movie. I even fell asleep for a second because it was just dragging on and on. It isn’t until the end when the film abandons the claustrophobia and grows in scale to include some spectacular cityscape shots that call back to the original as well as great depth of field shots behind our heroes as they walk towards their final battle in the background.

Last but not least, the cameos. Let’s not forget about the cameos. While there are two that were exceptionally well done causing my theater to clap, the rest felt really forced and one in particular was downright strange and cringeworthy. And as this is a reboot, the original Ghostbusters play brand new characters but in a third cameo appearance, that character makes a strange assertion to the audience that they’re well versed in ghosthunting, which lowered the immersion.

The initial first outing of the new Ghostbusters feels more like a test than anything, marketed more for the mass audience than diehard fans. My theater began clapping once the ending credits popped so I think it really appeals to people. While I wasn’t cheering for it, I am on board for what’s to come even though this film felt really average and by-the-numbers.

Written by Jacob Johnson on 7/18/2016

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