It’s hard for me to determine how much I liked the new Ghostbusters. I did like it, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not sure how much of my enjoyment came from the new product versus how much was Nostalgia driven.
Not that there is anything wrong with counting Nostalgia as a factor when reviewing films based off classic franchises from my childhood. Jurassic World’s extreme Nostalgia factor certainly influenced my review of the film, but my review of Independence Day: Resurgence proved that a long delayed sequel can’t rest on its Nostalgia factor alone.
Let’s look at the facts, scientifically, shall we, like the three Scientists and one Transit Worker that make up 2016’s new roster of Ghostbusters! NO SPOILERS ahead. If something doesn’t appear in the trailer or doesn’t happen in the 1st act, I won’t mention it here.Taking over for Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, the late Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson from 1984, are Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones, respectively, as each does fill the archetype of their predecessor. Erin Gilbert (Wiig) is the new Dr. Peter Venkman (Murray), leader of the group and biggest skeptic, without any of Murray’s charm or sarcasm. Gilbert may be the flattest character in this film, and that’s a problem. Abby Yates (McCarthy) is an update on Dr. Raymond Stantz (Aykroyd) with just as much enthusiasm and dopey humor. Patty Tolan (Jones) is more or less Winston Zeddmore (Hudson), Black, street-smart, and last to join the team. The only actress to stand out in her role, separating herself from the archetype that existed previously, is McKinnon as Holtzmann, a much wackier version of Egon (Ramis) that steals the show, with the exception of…
Chris Hemsworth rocks this film so hard. While gender swapping the Receptionist feels right at home in a cast of all female Ghostbusters, Kevin (Hemsworth) is nothing like his predecessor Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts), filling a completely different role in the film/plot that elevates him past background character. If anything, this sexy Blond hunk has more in common with Rick Moranis’ Louis Tully; both in lack of intelligence and the desire to be a Ghostbuster (which, to be fair, in Moranis’ case, wasn’t examined until 1989’s Ghostbusters 2). The humor in this film is solid, and no one looks to be having a better time than Chris Hemsworth and Kate McKinnon.It does seem a pattern is arising, does it not? Aside from each female Ghostbuster bringing a slight twist to their pre-assigned archetype, none of it feels fresh except the aforementioned Kevin and Hotlzmann. The plot, while not using the same ghostly entity as the big bad from the 1984 film, does feel recycled, with little new to offer. If anything, it offers much less, with a much simpler plot than that involving the Gatekeeper, Keymaster, and Zuul, which was deliciously bizarre and mysterious, with a real sense of danger. While I appreciate the reboot’s successful attempt to explain why Ghosts are suddenly a thing in New York City, the evil Ghost plot falls flat on its face and the finale is more goofy and action packed than the original; a remake in the modern age of CGI in every sense of the word. There feels as though there is no peril in the end of the film, just an overabundance of CGI Ghouls. It also lacks charm. These new female comedians certainly have the chemistry and the comedic chops deserving of the roles they landed, but there’s still something missing. The ending to the 1st film is so great, with those four men on a roof, facing a God and a Building-Sized Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, with only their wits and whit. The stakes and the chemistry just isn’t all the way there in this new Ghostbusters.
And since when can you “murder” a ghost? Aside from trapping one ghost, these new Ghostbusters expand to weapons that can pulverize ghosts… killing them again? The tricky fun of trapping ghosts is gone in exchange for modern day violence and unnecessary action.The humor does feel a bit off, but that is because the original film excelled in the humor of the 80s, while this reboot is obviously very modern. That being said, I think, like most modern takes of classic genres, the film is a little heavy on the humor and a bit light on character development, plot, and even the supernatural. Just compare Lethal Weapon (1987) to The Nice Guys (2016) as an example; both are the same genre and written by the same man, but the later goes overboard on the humor, losing the more poignant moments from the former. I was a bit turned off by all the jokes at the ladies’ expense, considering Director Paul Feig downplayed the fact he cast women in roles originally inhabited by men. I expected there to be some differences; obviously female character behave differently than men and will get into different comedic situations, but by the end of the film I was so tired about hearing jokes about women being able (or not being able) to do “a Man’s Job.” I don’t think it’s just the sexist haters that need to get over the fact that the Ghostbusters are now women; Feig should take a chill pill of his own.
Is this 2016 Reboot better than the original Ghostbusters? Hell, No! Is it better than Ghostbusters 2? Hell, Yes! Now that all that pesky world building is out of the way, I expect the inevitable NEW Ghostbusters 2 to be an even better film, hopefully relying more on originality than Nostalgia and tried and true archetypes. If you’re going to reboot a movie for a new generation, take some risks!