Disclaimer – For whatever reason my parents neglected to show me Ghostbusters as a child so I never watched the film until I found it on Netflix at the age of 25 3 years ago. As such I went into this film with no childhood attachment to the originals which lets be honest, probably helped.
It’s been a long and bumpy road to this point for the new Ghostbusters reboot with well documented backlash from the second the film was announced. While it’s easy to claim it’s all sexist pigs* doing all the complaining the fact is any new reboot announced will get it’s fair share of vitriol online. From upcoming reboot of Christopher Nolan’s not even 20 year classic Memento to Amazing Spider-man which came out a decade after the original Spider-man 1 the internet is not kind to what it deems to be “pointless” remakes and Ghostbusters is no exception.
*I’m not going to pretend that there isn’t a level of misogyny in the online backlash, only that there’d have been backlash whether this was an all-male reboot instead of what we got
Still it’s good to see that Sony didn’t completely phone in the talent for the reboot and they’re making a clear effort with it between the talent behind the camera (Bridesmaids/Freaks And Geek’s Paul Feig a.k.a Mr Pool from season 1 of Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and just like the original a cast that reads like an MVP list from recent seasons of Saturday Night Live along with an Oscar nominated Actress and an Avenger.
It’s this very cast that are the real standout factor of the new film, overcoming a fairly generic rehash of a plot and a pretty bland boring bad guy to deliver a fun experience in spite of the films faults. All 4 main cast members use the comedic skills they developed in years of SNL (and in McCartney’s case Mike and Molly) and generally make it look easy. From McCartney’s physical slapstick to McKinnon’s insanity, they’re know what they’re doing and they’re very f**king good at it. Outside of the 4 Ghostbusters Hemsworth also gets a chance to stretch his comedic muscles outside of the occasional wisecrack as Thor and easily holds his own against his cast mates.
As good as the cast are at what they do though they can only elevate the script they’re working with so much. As it is the script is probably the main thing holding the film back, not only is the central plot a generic rehash of the first with a boring/bland villain boring it fails to give most of the cast a moment to truly shine (barring McKinnon who gets the films best sequence during the climax) and seems to prefer sticking with physical slapstick comedy and jokes about how dumb their new receptionist (Hemsworth) is for the most part. Don’t get me wrong it’s still funny and I did laugh a lot but its hard to shake the feeling that the cast isn’t being utilised to their full potential
Still it’s better to be under-utilised than what feels like a complete afterthought like the villain “Rowan” turned out to be. Like all the best Marvel villains Rowan is almost completely devoid of backstory, any moments to shine and characterisation to the point 2 days later I’m struggling to recall if he actually had any motivation for his actions beyond being evil. This is in no way down to Neil Casey’s performance but if there is a sequel (And I am hoping there is) top of my list is a better villain. Course given villains track record in modern cinema I’d be best not holding my breath for that.
The advances in technology in the last 20 years make for a far brighter film than we got in 1984 and your milage on this may vary significantly. With effects capable of so much more the filmmakers rarely subscribe to the age old “less is more” rule of filmmaking and the ghosts subsequently shine clearly and brightly full bodied on the screen at most opportunities. Barring the cold open (which seems at odds tonally with rest of the film) the tone remains light and breezy without with nary a hint of horror which is a tad disappointing given it’s 12A/PG-13 rating. I’m not expecting to be absolutely terrified from a Ghostbusters film but in the year that 10 Cloverfield Lane can get our hearts racing despite a 12A/PG-13 rating it’s disappointing to see a film about Ghosts not even try.
The plot eventually gives way to a routine climax, there’s a few standout moments (the fore-mentioned one with McKinnon) but like the rest of the plot it just feels like it’s on autopilot). While the effects throughout may (in your opinion) arguably take away from the film I can’t deny that they’re all easy on the eyes, even if I could have done without so many 3D friendly moments.*
*If I’m in a 2D film and I think “That scene was framed for 3D” you’re doing it wrong.
if you’re a fan of the originals that hasn’t swore off this remake there’s a lot of throwbacks to enjoy throughout as well. There’s a variety of adaptions of the classic Ghostbuster themes to put a smile on your face through out the film and all of them are better than that god awful Fall Out Boy version (which thankfully only plays for a few minutes).and large number of injokes/throwbacks/cameos that I only imagine will be completely lost on todays youth.
If you’re fan of the original and you think it looks awful than it may not be for you and that’s okay, you have two Ghostbuster films you absolutely love and the Ghostbuster film you do want was never going to happen. On the flip side I seen this opening night and I seen more young girls at the cinema than I’ve ever seen at a Marvel film, this is for them and I’m happy that they finally get a blockbuster they can properly enjoy that isn’t an angsty young adult novel adaption.
It may seem like I’m too hard on Ghostbusters but that’s simply because I think this film is nowhere near as good as it should be. It’s a testament to how good the cast are that it manages as much fun as it is and that I would happily come back for a second (Which is teased in a post credits scene), I just hope that if it does happen it lives up to the untapped potential of this entry.
Review 4 (out of 7)