How do we begin to introduce a review of Ghostbusters? By now, unless you have been living in an Ecto Containment Unit, you’ll know two things: 1.) A proper third film in the Ghostbusters franchise has been in development hell for years and 2.) This new reboot of the franchise is the most controversial blockbuster bar none this year. Since the very polarizing Ghostbusters 2 and the many rumors and stories thereafter, we had got the point where it was all but certain a new Ghostbusters film would never materialize, even more so after the saddening news of the passing of star/writer Harold Ramis in 2014. However, with director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy) at the helm, the proton-packed, paranormal problem solvers are back…well we say back. This all new, all female, ensemble looks to start anew with this series reboot, which has angered many, left some intrigued and caused quite a stir online. Still amidst all the scorn, unsure trailers and debates about sexism, the most important thing is, is the film any good?
This movie sees Columbia University Professor Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) scared that she may lose her position when a paranormal investigation book she co-authored appears online. To solve this, she visits her co-author and former friend, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), who is continuing her paranormal research, alongside the slightly unhinged genius Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). Gilbert soon gets drawn back into this world and when these scientists investigate a subway apparition, worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) likewise gets enamored with the art of ghost bustin’ and thus, the group is formed, as they try to tackle the rising paranormal activity in New York. For all the hate and aggression, it is rather ironic that the biggest issue with this new reboot is its continued attempts at pleasing those who have got so riled.
Ghostbusters is neither the train wreck that first trailer insinuated, nor the fantastic reinvention you hoped it could be, it is all just very “meh”. The film is littered with multiple moments of promise- a potentially affecting backstory to Erin and Abby’s friendship, a comic chemistry among the leads, an ideology about the nastiness of people breeding hate- but cannot develop its own rhythm thanks to being constantly dragged into a forced fan service. Dippold and Feig’s script feels shackled by some kind of commitment to the franchise and thus any moments of its own feel at odds with the elements of the plot, that seem content to rehash aspects of the original movie. The cameos for instance take nudge wink referencing too far and feel forced as opposed to gleeful- with only the mid-end credits appearance by a big star really clicking.
All those haters who engulfed sites with their sickening prejudices have paradoxically being lambasting the very aspect that ensures this reboot is not a total bust- the cast! The four leading ladies really excel, with a natural chemistry that makes you wonder why the hell they didn’t just create a brand new film series just for these gals to kick ass in? Wiig is fantastic and her relationship with McCarthy feels really genuine and well placed alongside Jones’ charm and McKinnon’s oddball. Then there is Chris Hemsworth, who steals scenes aplenty as hapless secretary Kevin. True the ladies are separated into the mold of the original characters- again, why not just let them be free- but they make the most of it, despite some hit and miss dialogue, the best of which are clearly improvised moments. Although the film lacks a strong villain and the many other faces in the film seem to just bob in and out of the proceedings, this leading quartet really boosts the energy of the overall picture.
Sadly, by revisiting old ground, Feig’s film struggles to really formulate its own identity and thus a game director and the excellent cast feel a little bit like they have been let down by a studio (or whomever) wanting to prolong a franchise. That said, there are some effective sequences like a Times Square set piece and a very enjoyable opening, plus the colourful aesthetic recalls a Scooby-Doo like fun ghost train vibe. Then there are some effective moments of scoring by Theodore Shapiro. We just wish the movie had the determination to go all the way with its fresher convictions because by going the reboot route but then simply making do with rehashing the glory days, this film has not let the cast do their thing. As a result this bout of Bustin’ neither makes us feel bad or good, just kind of so-so.
GHOSTBUSTERS / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: PAUL FEIG / SCREENPLAY: KATIE DIPPOLD, PAUL FEIG / STARRING: MELISSA MCCARTHY, KRISTEN WIIG, KATE MCKINNON, LESLIE JONES, CHRIS HEMSWORTH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected Rating: 7/10