Monday, August 22, 2016

Ghostbusters Review

Ghostbusters Review
I've been dragging my feet all summer on seeing this. I have already written dozens upon dozens of words on what I thought of the initial idea of an all-women "Ghostbusters" movie, I wrote about the trailers and how they displeased me, and also the unfair backlash and controversy the movie created. "Ghostbusters" is sentimental to me, and on top of not understanding the point of remaking a classic for no reason, I had no hope for a remake of "Ghostbusters." But I tried really hard to approach this film on its own terms. I was going to plunged into an all-women "Ghostbusters" movie head first and I ain't afraid of nothing on the other side.

What's astonishing is there is some good stuff in this "Ghostbusters" remake. Okay. There. I said it. There is some good stuff in this movie. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and especially Kate McKinnon all do profound work together. They have a radiant chemistry that, at the very least, keeps you interested in the film. Chris Hemsworth as the male secretary is comedic gold, and Hemsworth will carve a good comedic career after he's done doing the whole God of Thunder thing. There is even a good story hidden in this film, even if it could use a polish or two, that I feel like could have been a third film in the original franchise. You'll notice some cameos made by Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts and yes, Bill Murray. They each actually made me smile, some made me giggle. (Except the Murray cameo, surprisingly that was a waste.) There is some good energy from the film that I just did not expect.

The thing is, that doesn't carry for the entire film. There is a massive feeling throughout the film that this reboot is trying way too hard. That's its biggest drawback, it feels forced. It feels like its trying, instead of existing as its own entity. Most of the humor seems way too easy, (there is a moment when McKinnon and McCarthy are using technology that reads ghost movements, but all they record is a loud fart. Really?) and I am shocked how little of it is actually funny. This is a movie that features Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, how did I barely laugh? Like I stated about the trailers, the ghosts look so fake that it becomes distracting. I know that this is comedy and I shouldn't take so much of it seriously, but when the 1984 film has better special effects than a 2016 film, that kind of feels off to me. This being a remake, there are several callbacks to the first film, but they all feel phony and out-of-place, further reminding me why classic films don't need to be remade.

Wiig plays Dr. Erin Gilbert and McCarthy plays Dr. Abbey Yates. Years before the film, Gilbert and Yates wrote and published a book together about the paranormal, and Gilbert walked away from the project, much to Yates' dismay, after the book was published. Years later, Gilbert confronts Yates, who published the book without Gilbert's permission. Yates still believes in the paranormal, and she goes on a paranormal siting with her new accomplice Dr. Holtzmann (McKinnon), Gilbert goes on a whim. They discover a ghost and Gilbert renews her faith in paranormal activity. The threesome decide to help the paranormal problem in New York, with a MTA worker Patty Tolan (Jones). Together they must stop a man named Rowan (Neil Casey) who is creating a device that draws ghosts to him, and open a portal to the ghost world.

Out of the four, McKinnon has the best material. She has perfect comedic timing, she has the best moments and she positively flies with them. Wiig and McCarthy are, as expected, good together. However, they just don't get much funny material at all. They get all of the easy jokes, and they can't really make them land. I think Leslie Jones came to play, but she's playing the typical loud, street-smart, not-head-smart-like-all-the-rest stereotype. I thought, is that the best they could do? They couldn't have made her character anymore of a token black character. A treatment Ernie Hudson never got in this franchise. Chris Hemsworth is pretty good in this, and it has some scenes that stick out. There is also good acting done by Charlies Dance, Michael K. Williams, Andy Garcia and Matt Walsh. The acting isn't bad by any account, but I just wish this great cast was funnier.

As I alluded to in my "Suicide Squad" review, "Ghostbusters" is about the billionth movie this summer that featured a glowing McGuffin. Yes, Rowan's character builds a device. Yes, it shoots lights into the sky. Yes, the Ghostbusters must venture into a basement to essentially turn it off. End of movie. Its so familiar and uninteresting that I really wonder what the point of it was. What is it with blockbusters and having the exact same climax? Do they really have this little faith in audiences?

In the end, I wasn't expecting to give this movie this much credit. There is some good stuff in the film, I only wish that I got a whole movie of it. Since the original is so dear to my heart, this had to be perfect for me to really give myself over it. I carry baggage, even though I try not to. So perhaps if you go and see this, you may enjoy it more than me. While I do have baggage, I attempted to let it go and join the film on its own terms. There is some good work done by director Paul Fieg and I applaud his efforts. Making a reboot of a classic like "Ghostbusters" couldn't have been an easy feat, and he deserves credit for stepping up to the plate. There is still too much wrong with the film that I can't give my whole heart over to it.

FINAL GRADE: C   

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