From the millisecond word was released that there was going to be an all female Ghostbusters reboot movie, all hell broke loose. This movie has polarized the fans like no other and that is a crying shame. A large portion of the men have decreed blasphemy and the women have blasted horns of happiness. Either way, both sides have hyped up so much energy into this movie that the moviegoer has high expectations of either complete hatred or devoted adoration. So it was staggering to this correspondent that the reaction was a tepid enjoyment.
It is no question, none what so ever, that Ghostbuster (1984) and Ghostbusters II are pop cultural icons. Quotes have been memorialized, cosplays have been worn, references winked at, and the song is still popular than ever. I firmly believe that anything that any movie that has been rebooted or re-imagined will never capture the magic of the original. All it could it do is to pay its respect and create it’s own niche in that universe. Did Ghostbusters 2016 do that? In a referential sense. Will it be able to stand the test of time and be memorialized? Yes it will but not in the same way as the original did.
Ghostbusters (2016) timeline is a bit interesting. It is a reboot but it has nothing to do with the originals. The best way I can imagine it is that it’s set an alternative universe where New York has never seen ghosts. So in a way, it can be seen as the present. The film nods towards current trends like Youtube and selfie sticks to establish that this is happening now. Every nod towards the originals is re-purposed for this film. Ghostbusters (2016) borrows props from the past but by the end of the movie have established they can stand on their own feet.
The movie begins with the quirky antics of Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig). She is an ambitious, awkward scientist right at the cusp of gaining tenure. That is until a relic from her past dalliance with paranormal studies sends her to meet with her estranged friend, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). Alongside her colleague, Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon), Abby has not given up the paranormal studies. Before Erin knows it, she gets whisked along on the adventure and they find a ghost together. As you can imagine this quickly leads the women into finding more ghosts thanks to Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones). Together they form the group that seeks to trap ghosts and study them. Well, it doesn’t turn out that way but it did begin innocently enough.
Speaking on the Ghostbusters themselves, the women are fantastic actresses. It is easy to see why they were chosen for these roles. They each have amazing strength, confidence, charisma, and comedic chops. Somehow as a group that star power is slightly dimmed. There were scenes where there was great chemistry and others that they were just there. Maybe because they are still getting used to acting with each but it just seemed like a group politely acting with other. There were very, very few tender moments so the scenes towards the end did not generate enough of payoff for me. When they broke off into pairs, then there was more energy between them. Clearly the pair was divided by Abby and Erin with Holtzman and Patty on the sidelines. A lot of attention was focused on Abby and Erin’s relationship and it was utterly frustrating when I didn’t see it.
Even more frustrating was when the gem of the movie was clearly Holtzman. Everything about her character was fantastic, original, charming, and she owned it. Every time Holtzman came on the screen you can see everyone perk up in happiness because her energy was solid. Plus she was the one who made the cool gadgets. That scene, that scene, was well earned. Too short but it made up for so much.
If Holtzman was the surprise gem, then Patty was the surprising warmth. The trailers really did not do her justice by painting her as an loud mouth and ignorant character. For a women of color to be portrayed as a character like that with the other actresses holding high rank as scientists, it really, really grated on my nerves. The movie instead portrayed Patty as a warm, streetwise character who is a superb New York history buff. I suppose her character is to represent the everyday person who genuinely loves New York and knows everything about it. I still would rather they toned down the “street talk”.
Truthfully, I am not a fan of McCarthy’s acting. Ever since sitting through Tammy, it would take a lot to convince me to like as an actress. This movie did not change my opinion. She was less annoying in this role than in other but she still came off as the same snarky, loud mouthed character. Her “endearing” scenes came off as whiny, mean, and just bossy. I never really got the sense that she cared about her team or that she acknowledged the return of Erin’s friendship. The only positive acting part I saw of McCarthy was when she was possessed (it’s in the trailer so it’s not a spoiler). She shone brightly through that scene.
For the Ghostbuster that started the whole movie rolling, I really felt for Erin. Wiig still did some her awkward actress moves that we known her for, but her character ended up growing on me. Erin lost the chance of a lifetime but she was able to create something even bigger. It was a point that came across really well and resonated with me. For the younger audience, I think this was a great character for them to look up to. To not despair if one door closes. Too many of our generation has had dozens of doors close and not dealt very well with it. So I hope if anything else, the younger audience will come away with idea that following dreams, not matter how old they are, can still pay off for you.
To be honest, I also share the same adoration for Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) and I would act the same.
Now this leads me to the most awkward point of the movie that greatly brought down the enthusiasm for this movie. Every male character in this movie was portrayed either as evil or an idiot. They tried to play it off as comedy of course but there was no blanketing the fact that there is no male in this movie that is on equal footing with the women. That is plainly unfair and disgusting. This portrayal marred what made the movie fun and refreshing. It should haven’t been like this. It’s easy to look back at the movies and note how one dimensional the characters in the Ghostbusters 2016 were. There was no deep motive, no substance, nothing. This is where the movie severely damaged itself in longevity. The movie will stand the test of the time but only because it will be know as the Ghostbuster movie with girls and all about girls! There was so much anti-male stink in this movie that even the little ghosts towards the end looked like evil green sperm flying through the air.
To take apart something that really been nagging me, take the main villain. So many questions that were never properly addressed. Most importantly: why? I still can’t fathom why he would make such a sacrifice? To take over New York in a Dr. Horrible fashion? Then what? Really, Scooby Doo villains had more substance than this.
There were so many scenes that I could have done away with. Like half of the alleyway practice scenes. Not needed, not wanted.
Shaking off this gloom, I would rather end this review with what I did enjoy. I did actually enjoy the movie. I absolutely loved the special effects of the movie. The beginning of the movie genuinely scared me but thankfully the effects became more and more cartoonish. Still beautiful and shiny.
The women actually bust some ghosts. Not just capture, but bust some ghosts butt. I don’t understand how or why the streams now burst the ghosts though. I’m just gonna chalk it up to Holtzman’s magic. Putting the physics of the streams aside, wow what a cool battle scene!!!
The jokes and the slapstick comedy in the beginning did not tweak a smile on my face but Holtzman and Hemsworth. I had already expelled my love for Holtzman, now it’s Hemsworth’s turn. I admit.I am wholeheartedly an infatuated fan of this Australian beefcake. That level of infatuation has increased several notches now that I have seen him flex his comedic muscles. Even though I groan at his “stupid male receptionist” character, I couldn’t help but laugh at his antics. Thank you casting director for placing Hemsworth in this movie. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It truly made up for quite a bit.
By the way, stay through to the end of the credits. Dancing Hemsworth will make you smile. Seriously though: STAY THROUGH TO THE VERY END OF THE CREDITS.
Should you watching this movie in theaters? Yes! Even though there are some definite issues, it still did not take away my love of Ghostbusters. Yup my childhood is still intact. I still want to dress up and bust some ghosts.
So go watch the movie. Form your own opinions but most importantly, take the younger ones. They will be the ones to further on the love and care of Ghostbusters. Even if they love the original, this one will be closer to their time and they can relate to it more. Please be warned though, the beginning can be a little scary and there are some jump scares. However you feel about it, please go watch the movie. Judging from the end credits, I really want to see what they’re going to do with that.