Smith’s Verdict: **1/2
Reviewed by Tanner Smith
I feel like I’m walking a tightrope here, making this my first review in almost two months. This “Ghostbusters reboot” has garnered a huge amount of controversy, mostly from Internet trolls, before it was even seen by the public. Well…here goes.
The 1984 version of “Ghostbusters” is a beloved comedy classic (and one of my personal favorite movies of all time). The 1989 sequel, “Ghostbusters II”…not so much. It was made simply to cash in on the “Ghostbusters” name; that it was created by the same minds behind the original made it even more disappointing. But the original is still regarded as a wonderful film that can never be replaced.
A good sequel could be made. But the idea of a reboot or remake made fans cringe. When the first trailer for “Ghostbusters 2016” was released, it became one of the most disliked videos on YouTube, most likely because it wasn’t very funny. This was a major sign of trouble for “Ghostbusters” fans.
And playing the “sexist/misogynist” card when the Ghostbusters are all female made things even worse, causing an uproar among many, many people on the Internet.
Having seen the movie, I can say “Ghostbusters 2016” doesn’t deserve such hatred. Nor does it deserve high praise. Did I laugh? Yes, a few times. Other times, well…let’s get to the review already.
In this “reboot” of “Ghostbusters,” three paranormal researchers (played by Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, and Kate McKinnon) discover ghostly activity in New York City (sound familiar?). Using makeshift equipment they can use to capture apparitions, they, along with a fourth member (Leslie Jones), decide to start a business for which they rid the city of peeving ghosts (again, sound familiar?). But little do they know that this is actually the beginning of something bigger and more destructive that could wipe out the city and possibly even the world (again, sound familiar?). As you can tell, this movie is following the same formula of “Ghostbusters” and “Ghostbusters II.” As we’ve seen with the “Indiana Jones” movies and the more recent “Star Wars” flick, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with recreating a formula, if you can bring in some new things that make us want to keep watching this movie and not just watch the movie it’s reminding you of. What does this “Ghostbusters” reboot have? 1) The deadpan secretary from the original is replaced by a dunderhead model (played hilariously by Chris Hemsworth) who understands nothing about his job but has a body Wiig can’t stop staring at. 2) The Ghostbusters have more advanced weapons than proton packs & shooters—they have ghost-effective grenades, vacuums, and even gloves that allow them to hit ghosts hard. 3) I will admit, the action in this film is more effective here than in the original (and that might be because of those new weapons, which the Ghostbusters use in a sequence in which they fight ghosts in Times Square).
Unfortunately, that isn’t enough. And neither is the presence of some very talented comediennes. There is a good movie trying to get out. I did laugh at some quirky lines of dialogue, some neat gags, and especially whenever Kate McKinnon (who is freaking hilarious on SNL) was on-screen, playing the brainy, eccentric wildflower of the bunch who reminds me of a mix between Greta Gerwig and Ed from “Cowboy Bebop.” And admittedly, when the film was trying to be a new “Ghostbusters,” some parts of it do work—the opening scene is in that same scary/funny tradition; a mannequin coming to life and chasing Jones is the same way; there’s some sharp modern commentary about how the public don’t believe in ghosts even when the Ghostbusters post documented footage on YouTube (hey it’s 2016, am I right?). But when it doesn’t work is when callbacks to the original film are forcibly thrown at us—the logo, the Ecto-1 car, the fire station, the cameos from actors/actresses who don’t reprise their original roles (By the way, why have them then? Why couldn’t this movie have just been a sequel?), the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Slimer, etc. The film feels like a blend of “Ghostbusters” callbacks and newer material, and it’s a mess. It feels like a watered-down version of the original “Ghostbusters.” Also, in terms of story conflict, the difference between this film and the original is that I don’t feel there’s a lot at stake in this film. That might have to do with a lack of an interesting villain—the best we get is a sleazeball wimp played by Neil Casey. Not that the idea of a wimpy villain who happens to have supernatural forces at his control, but it needed a more charismatic actor.
The actresses aren’t given a lot to work with in this script. Wiig’s character seems like she’s going to go somewhere, but she’s very underused and also kind of awkward. McCarthy’s fine, but she’s in the same boat as Wiig when it comes to displaying her true talents. McKinnon is having a ton of fun with what she has. And Jones is suitably sassy as a subway worker whose info about the city layout comes in handy (but not for long, however). But when these four are together on-screen, their chemistry sparkles.
I won’t say much about the special effects. They’re there, they range from decent to bad, Slimer looks…slimier, and that’s about it. What’s a “Ghostbusters” movie without some cheesy-looking spirits?
I think the biggest problem with this movie is, whenever “Ghostbusters 2016” references “Ghostbusters,” it’s a constant reminder that we should be watching “Ghostbusters.” When it tries something different, which is only once in a while, it reminds us that there’s a decent film trying to make itself known. It’s better than “Ghostbusters II,” but not by much. With a more clever script, this could have worked. As it is, it’s not bad, but it’s not something I’ll revere as much as the original “Ghostbusters” either.