Search This Blog

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016)

Who You Gonna Call? Not the sexists, apparently...

This review is also up at Channel 24.

What it's about

When ghosts start cropping up all over New York City, a trio of paranormal-obsessed scientists team up with a subway worker, who saw one of the ghosts first-hand, to investigate and ultimately stop an apparent ghostly invasion of their city.

What we thought

Considering Hollywood's love of remaking and retelling beloved movies, books and comics, it's telling that no shoddy remake in history has been greeted with the kind of vitriol that this new take on '80s comedy classic has been greeted with. Even before the admittedly lackluster first trailer hit, reaction to the new, all-female Ghostbusters was overwhelmingly negative but, for all that there were some perfectly fair criticisms against remaking so beloved a cult classic, it was hard to get past the pure, unadulterated misogyny behind (or really smothered all over) most of the criticisms out there.

Now that the film is finally out, I'm pleased to say that it spends no time at all silencing the more dubious complaints by setting up the women who are the all-new Ghostbusters as a formidable comic line up and one that actually stands up as something quite different from the classic team of Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd. Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson – all of whom, incidentally, appear in the film, though, obviously in the case of the late, great Harold Ramis, not necessarily in person. This is not just PC gender-bending but something that actually uses the femininity of the new heroes to inject a certain amount of freshness into a well-established formula. You may question the new Ghostbusters' need to exist but it does make significantly more sense with this particular cast than with just another bunch of dudes playing roles that were already perfected thirty years ago.

Casting choices aside, though, the new Ghostbusters did still have to deal with the more sensible question of whether it could possibly live up to what is now considered one of the seminal films of the 1980s and a firm favourite of many people of a certain age - myself included. The answer, inevitably, is that no it couldn't but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have more than enough going for it to win over new fans and mostly please old ones.

For a start, the cast is pretty uniformly great, with Kate McKinnon, as the wonderfully demented engineer of the group, emerging as the breakout star from an already pretty excellent ensemble of some of today's best female comics (Kristin Wiig, Leslie Jones and, back on fine form after the disaster of the Boss, Melissa McCarthy). Ironically, not to be outdone by their leading ladies, though, a couple of male supporting actors threaten to walk away with the whole show themselves.

Silicon Valley's Zach Woods continues to prove himself to be one of the most under-appreciated comedic talents around right now in his small but crucial part and Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, who is almost obscenely funny as the Ghostbusters' “dumb blonde” secretary, Kevin. Hemsworth is easily the funniest thing in an already funny movie – with much of his physical pratfalls and ingeniously stupid one-liners (I still laugh every time I think of the phrase “my cat”) actually being improvised by the man himself.

Not every joke lands, to be sure, but Ghostbusters is unquestionably a superior comedy – it's just the actual Ghostbuster-iness of it that occasionally lets the side down. On the plus side, the ghosts are quite beautifully realiszd, boasting just the right amount of creepiness mixed in with a pleasantly refreshing cartooniness and plenty of bright, almost luminous colours. Shockingly, they work even better in 3D, as the film fully embraces the gimmicky origins of this now way, way overused device.

Unfortunately, even with the great cast, good jokes and fun ghost designs, the film does suffer from a lackluster “everyman” villain, a plot that sticks just a bit too close to the original for comfort and the fact that, for all his strengths that are on full display here, director Paul Feig clearly struggles with the big action set-pieces, which renders the final act of the film over-stuffed and rather incoherent. The choice to do a full remake, rather than a Ghostbusters: The Next Generation doesn't particularly help the occasionally stodgy, overly familiar storytelling either.

It's no classic, in other words, but it is far better than most of us could possibly have expected and it certainly proves the misogynistic trolls very, very wrong. And, best of all, with the world set up (again), there is every chance that the inevitable sequel will be ever better.

No comments:

Post a Comment