So I watched Ghostbusters…
When plans were announced to produce this film, there was the customary uproar that comes whenever a studio decides to remake a classic. However, there was something different about the uproar the new Ghostbusters was receiving – it was far more brutal, malicious and had an undeniable tone of misogyny. It’s sad to think that in 2016 we’re still telling people what they can and cannot do, and can and cannot be purely based on their physical composition. This film is going to be one of the most important films of 2016, not necessarily because of its content but rather what it represents.
This film could pave the way for more female-driven blockbusters and greater diversity in film and we all know that film needs that. So I’m going to do something I never do – I’m going to tell you whether or not to watch this movie before I even write my review. GO WATCH IT! You might end up loving it, you might hate it; either way this film needs to be seen. Needs to be seen for two reasons: 1. Girls need heroes too (a point wonderfully explained by Dell On Movies in this post) and 2. Films deserved to be judged on their content and not whether the cast has penises or vaginas. But anyway, let’s get to it…
Okay, basic plot: Dr Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a physics professor at Columbia University who is eagerly trying to secure a tenure position. Her campaign is put at risk when a book she wrote years earlier resurfaces. The book – that she co-wrote with former friend, Dr Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) – posits the existence of ghosts and would make her the laughing stock of her school. She visits Abby and begs her to destroy all copies of the book but Abby refuses unless Erin comes along with her on a ghost hunting mission. Erin reluctantly agrees and finds her belief in the paranormal re-solidified. She joins Abby and eccentric engineer – Dr Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) – as they continue to research the paranormal. Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) – a subway worker – joins the team after an encounter with a ghost and the four strap up on their proton packs ready to tackle the growing ghost threat that is gripping New York.
This film is plagued by a problem that seems to be present in most remakes – a lack of the spirit that made the original a classic. This film has an enormous budget and it’s well utilised creating visually engaging special effects and well-rendered 3D but the soul of the film doesn’t get the same big-budget treatment. I think Paul Feig and Katie Dippold – who wrote this film’s script – didn’t do a good enough job crafting the characters or creating a rich story that we could sink our teeth into. The film feels too eager to show you the ghosts that its big budget has created that it forgets to properly showcase the heroes who are meant to be fighting against the ghosts.
Despite the poor writing, I enjoyed the majority of the characters in the film. The cast – for the most part – put in entertaining performances that are truly funny. I didn’t really care for Kristen Wiig. Her particular brand of comedy just doesn’t suit my palate but this is more an overall problem with the actress than her particular performance in this film. The standout performances of this film definitely came from Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. McKinnon had this almost psychotic energy to her portrayal that I loved and Jones a powerful comedic swagger which I loved seeing. The entire cast had great chemistry but I wouldn’t say the characters themselves had great chemistry. You could tell that the four actresses were friends and felt at ease with one another but this was often at odds with the script because it didn’t create this same feeling of unity between the characters. Chris Hemsworth is also in this film as the incompetent but loveable receptionist, Kevin and he does alright; though I’m still doubtful of Hemsworth’s acting ability outside of Thor.
This film is funny but it isn’t quite funny enough. After leaving the theatre I could list the individual moments that had made me laugh and I could do it on one hand. I think this again is down to the script. There are also a horde of cameos from the original cast of Ghostbusters. I hated everyone of these cameos. It’s commendable when a remake tries to pay homage to its original but it becomes a problem when it tries to pander. Every cameo felt forced and like the writers mangled the story to make space for the original cast. It was just horrible to watch. Speaking of things that were mangled and horrible, Fall Out Boy and Missy Elliot do something to the Ghostbusters Theme Song that can only be described as sexual assault. Okay, maybe that’s a bit over-the-top – I just listened to the song and it sounds far better than it did in the movie. The way it was cut into the movie was horrendous and composer Theodore Shapiro just got it all wrong.
Overall, Ghostbusters is just another remake that fails to live up to its original. It has a bigger budget but not as much heart. The cast do their best but they can’t overcome its mundane script. That being said, this film is still important and I wish it luck. Please go watch it, it isn’t the best but what it could lead to is essential for progress in Hollywood. 6/10