Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

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Here it is, the answer about one of the most controversial movies this decade…

A university professor looking for a real, respectable position is outed to her peers when an old friend re-published a book they once co-wrote about paranormal activity and ghost study. Without a choice, she joins in the hunt for spooks in New York city, and they quickly discovers an insidious plot to end the world.

Do I need to explain the history this film already has? Thirty years after the original movie, with thirty years trying to make a new installment in the hugely popular franchise, and after all of the original stars/writers had either given up or passed away… this remake gives itself the “most hated trailer in Youtube’s history”. Sony really need to fire their PR video editors. Right now.
Ghostbusters 2016 isn’t funny. For a comedy, that should be a deal breaker. It doesn’t even feel especially confident in itself either, nor does it have the crowd-cheering optimism and charm that make this franchise as good as it is. Forgive me for making comparison, but tone is important when dealing with franchises.

I think the best example of this is the introduction of our titular characters. Kirsten Wiig’s shut-in Erin arrives at the college campus that Meslissa McCarthy’s Abby and Kate McKinnon’s Jillian are working. Erin is asked to listen for something spooky they caught on tape, they all crowd around the machine… only for a fart noise to be heard. The two laugh and jeer at Erin’s expense. The audiences’ too, since we’ve had no sense these people are actually scientists and not just goofballs. The team was sorely missing an Egon Spengler type.

I hope you like fart and poop jokes by the way; the film opens with plenty of them.

I have only seen one Paul Feig movie, The Heat, and I didn’t like it. I mostly didn’t like it because it wasn’t funny, but also because it had really cruel humour against men. Funnily enough, Ghostbusters 2016 does exactly the same thing.
What a progressive film this is, having an all female team, I am alright with that. It is a shame then that every male character is: the butt of a joke; a total moron to the point of being mentally handicapped; a bimbo; evil incarnate or an authority figure designed to block our heroines progress (this includes the Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd cameos!)

I seem to recall the women in the original film treated as well, if not actually given a lot of power and personality next to their male counterparts.

So it isn’t funny, it is hypocritical in regards of what it considers political correctness, and it is crude. So… is there anything redeeming?

Well, the trailer did the film zero favours. This film is not as awful as it appears to be (because it looked atrocious) the best example is Leslie Jones’ character of Patty. Yes, she is a horrible racial stereotype that further compounds this film’s hypocrisy, but she is actually one of the more rounded characters… I know how that sounds to some of you…

The design work and the ghosts themselves are actually quite good. I like the gadgets, the final battle made me wish we had one more film with the original cast. Although I didn’t like how they were killing ghosts (they have a weapon that shreds ghosts), for me the Ghostbusters were always about containment, not killing. The ghosts are colourful, but they were colourful in the original films, so I liked them.

But at the end of the day, the film lacks a cohesive heart; it is a running gag machine that produces a lot of lead balloons. I may have sniggered a couple of times, but it was always when a character was opposing the Ghostbusters. It homages the original in painfully forced manners, it doesn’t fill you with confidence… it just sort of is.

It is as impactful, meaningful and relevant as the remake of Robocop.

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Additional Marshmallows: If this film had just linked it to the original, made it a spin-off or a sequel instead of a flat remake, I would have given it a 3/5 if not more.

Additional, additional Marshmallows: There are a couple of scenes interjected (most likely after the film wrapped) which involve the Ghostbusters reacting to negative opinions, one is literally them looking at Youtube comments. Stay classy, Mr Feig.

Additional Marshmallows (x3): I always deliberately choose what trailer to use. This is the one that caused so much trouble; the first one: “This isn’t a remake, honest!” and “Four Scientists” which got quickly corrected to “Four Friends” in subsequent trailers due to backlash.

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