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Four friends team up to fight the paranormal and things get out of hand and wacky.

To be blunt, this movie is a hard watch having seen and being a fan of the original 2 Ghostbusters films.  It is meant entirely as a stand-alone relaunch of the franchise, but it depends heavily on pre-established ground.  This aspect alone makes the film hard to buy into. While it was a relatively fun watch in theaters it really does not seem as though it will really stand up in the long run.  Let’s break some things down from this film.

Even though it is a stand-alone, it’s hard to not compare aspects of this film with aspects of the originals. That being said; take this review with a grain of salt and understand they are under the same franchise but should be viewed as completely separate entities. Beginning with the characters of the film, which were interesting characters to say the least but lacking in some areas while being over-the-top in others.  In the original films, it seemed that the main characters were somewhat reflective of the personalities of the actors portraying them. In this movie it was not that way.  The type of comedy that these actresses excel at was not necessarily how their roles were in this film. Kristen Wiig is known for her awkward, serious and bad timing type of comedy and she had a little of that, but Erin Gilbert (Wiig) ends up a little dry as a character and her best moments were when she was acting a fool around Kevin (Hemsworth).  Melissa McCarthy is a great physical comedian as well as she’s so bubbly and fun, but while she had a couple physical scenes in this her character of Abby Yates ends up being much more serious, and the humor from her comes from much more situational aspects. Not knowing much about Kate McKinnon makes it hard to judge her, but still her performance (as Jillian Holtzmann) felt forced most of the time and although she is that randomly funny person on SNL and in interviews, her role felt like the random funny was pushed to the max. Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) on the other hand was a fun character for the most part, though she ends up seeming typecast and that is unfortunate. Why did they cast a black woman to portray the “urban” character that “knows” the city?  Sorry, but she could be as much of a scientist or genius as the rest of them and didn’t have to be that. It did feel racially typecast and there were articles about it.  Regardless of history repeating itself with that, her performance was very good and she was probably one of the funnier people of the film.

These main characters may have been so-so portrayed but the bigger issue was the writing of them.  Virtually none of them had any character growth in addition to it being hard to believe they were the scientists that they were. While Gilbert and Yates had a background of a falling-out of friendship that was instantly resolved and rekindled, none of the other characters had issues they had to deal with or learn from.  Jill Holtzmann was always a skilled scientist/engineer and no matter what the situation she always had an invention ready but the audience was never shown her building them.  Patty, once a team member, is super encouraging and loves everyone and her only issue is borrowing the hearse from her uncle.  The reason it was hard to believe that they were scientists was that while they would give “science-y” one-liner explanations to things the audience was never shown experiments that end up being relevant to the plot. For example, in the first film they had mental experiments going on that played out to the keymaster. In the second film there were the experiments on the emotions of the couple, and the girl with the puppy, as well as the experiments on the slime.  There were no such experiments in this film.  They as scientists were constantly coming into contact with slime and ghosts and not performing any form of studying them in any way whatsoever besides just detecting them.  The film was largely about showing action/comedy sequences with ghosts involved in them.  The basement ghost who pukes slime, the mannequin that chases Patty, the metal show with the demon ghost, Slimer stealing the ecto-1, the Stay Puft balloon squishing them, all made this really cheesy.  There were too many of these and not enough substance to go with it.  The in-between of ghosts and plot development in the first films is part of what made them great. The struggle of the characters is part of the appeal of the first films as well.  There was no mention of a source of money for the new Ghostbusters business whereas in the first film Ray had to “triple mortgage” his parent’s house. Egon was awkward, stoic, smart and unintentionally humorless, which made him funny, and he hated Peter. Peter was an egotistical jackass womanizer who was funny because of how clueless he was.  Winston was the voice of reason as well as being the character that reflected the audience’s emotions in the movie.  Yet, this Ghostbusters movie had none of that!

Movie - Ghostbusters 2016 2

Continuing on with talking about the new versus the old, for it being its own film it had a stupidly huge amount of unexplained nods back to the old films. The graffiti artist just knows the old logo and they decide to use it, they use a hearse for the ecto-1 and give it the ecto-1 name, hook and ladder 8 made sense to appear and it was good they chose a new location still with its own character, the Stay Puft balloon did not fit in with the 1920’s balloons and was bad, the logo ghost was upsetting as the logo was special since the ghost was never shown, and Slimer was neat to see but not lady slimer.  Slimer was special because he was their first ghost catch, as well as the cast calling him the ghost of Jon Belushi, who was a friend and fellow comedian who had passed before the first film was ever made.  There are a whole host of other nods to the old films as well as other ghost and horror films, but they were pointless. Say a teenager who watches this film, having never seen the originals, then goes back to watch them afterwards; they will be so confused because of all that just not making a lick of sense. This should have been all or nothing, period.  A sequel 30+ years later or not relating to it at all, with no nods to the past and a complete new logo, new vehicle and so on.  Besides that it really was a rehash of the old films in the story too. The first third to half of the film is building or rebuilding the team while the final plot slowly develops, and then the latter is the team taking on the final baddie.  It was formulaic at best and even when the ghost of Rowan asks “what form should I take?” was a direct nod and rip from the first film and that was the excuse of him taking the form of the ghost in the logo. Cheap shots fired.

Minor notes about the film are that it was sad they did not use practical effects the same as the first films and then maybe CG to touch it up, but instead just flat out went with CG.  It looked good, truly, and all the ghosts and special effects were amazing but not impressive.  The original Ghostbusters films pushed the limits on some of the special effects and helped even modernize the way things are done in horror films, so it’s sad to say that this film is not a trailblazer like its predecessors. No great notes about cinematography, music, score, or costumes; all were pretty normal and not much stood out. Perhaps the development and refining of this film was short, or it could have been too refined, nonetheless there was room for improvement.

To wrap things up, this film strays the veil of being a good movie or a bad movie.  While it was fun to watch in theaters, had some good gags, alright special effects and nods to the past, it came up short. The story was predictable and flawed, the characters were not good, the actors were not used correctly and had poor material to work with, and it couldn’t make up its mind if it was a sequel, a remake, or what. The new Ghostbusters passes as just okay and hopefully will not have a sequel, as perhaps this universe of the franchise needs to rest in peace.

 

Directed By: Paul Feig

Written By: Paul Feig, Kate Dippold

Produced By:  Amy Pascal, Ivan Reitman

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Neil Casey, Chris Hemsworth

Distributed By: Columbia Pictures

Release Date: July 15th 2016

Run time: 116 minutes

Rated: PG-13

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