Saturday, 16 July 2016

Film Review: Ghostbusters

It's the movie that fuelled thousands of angry comments across the Internet - but is the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters worthy of the hate and vitriol? This is my review...

I'll cut to the chase for those looking for a simple, straightforward answer; no. Ghostbusters isn't the disastrous dumpster fire that lots of hung-up haters were hoping for. In fact, I'm going to put my neck on the line and say this: I actually quite liked it. I laughed at the jokes, liked the characters and, most importantly, had fun. Don't get me wrong, it's by no means perfect - it doesn't usurp or transcend the original, but it also doesn't shit over its legacy. It does enough to distinguish itself and I'm excited to see where this new series will go.

The first 10-15 minutes of Ghostbusters provide some really interesting set-up, more than I was expecting: we find out that Erin (Kristen Wiig) is a respected professor who coauthored a book about ghosts when she was in college with Abby (Melissa McCarthy). Abby now works at a crummy college herself, investigating ghosts with the help of Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), a talented engineer. Erin is eager to distance herself from the paranormal and angry at Abby for posting a digital copy of their book online - but when ghosts starts popping up across New York City, the trio join forces (and recruit the help of subway worker Patty, played by Leslie Jones) to put an end to it.

Firstly, some positives. Well, the core cast are good fun. Wiig is sort of 'the lead' because we follow her POV through most of the movie. She makes a serviceable protagonist even though her arc sort of fizzles midway through the movie. Jones' character is a hoot too. Plus, who knew Chris Hemsworth was so damn funny?! Hemsworth plays Kevin, a ditzy receptionist who works at the Ghostbusters' base of operations. He absolutely steals the show, no doubt about it. Even better, his part isn't overplayed. The scene where the girls interview him for the job is hilarious - genuine belly laughs too, not just chuckles. One moment involving his glasses had me in stitches. Dude has some seriously wicked dance moves too!

McKinnon is a stand-out performer also, mainly because her character is so distinct and expressional. If there is one criticism I can pin on McCarthy it's that her character isn't anything special, something that certainly can't be said for the rubber-faced McKinnon.

The CGI is pretty good also. The rich blues and vivid greens pop and swirl across the screen with all sorts of lightning and smoke emanating out of the ethereal figures. The action set pieces are serviceable too, but maybe a little too few and far between.

So let's move onto some of the issues; firstly, the callbacks (of which there a lot). As you may have heard, all of the surviving original Ghostbusters are back in one form or another; I won't spoil how or where they pop up, but you should know that they don't all work. Some are good whilst others are just plain bizarre. Even Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts pop up too! Weaver's is the best in my opinion, but Murray's will no doubt get the biggest cheer.

The pacing is a little off too; the core cast don't do an awful of actual ghostbusting in the first hour or so. In fact, they only really bust one ghost prior to the huge cataclysm at the end. It's very jumbled and the laughs certainly arrive in fits and bursts. Plus, the villain is a complete waste. I don't think this is a spoiler (it's in the trailer) but there is a very good reason that the film dispenses with the main antagonist and possesses one of the core cast as soon as it can. Maybe if they'd cast a known name as the villain it would've helped? The guy they did cast was a complete washout. The soundtrack is a mixed bag too; the score is pretty good but the reworked theme by Fall Out Boy is simply atrocious.

The Verdict: 7/10

It's no slam-dunk but it's by no means a hideous wreck either; the core cast share some fantastic chemistry whilst Feig's energetic direction and some colourful and kooky visual effects with enchant younger viewers. And at the end of the day, isn't that it's all about - the next generation? Millennials will hopefully hold this film (and the sequels to come) close to their heart long into adulthood - just as we have with the still superior original.

Ghostbusters is in cinemas across Australia now. 

You can also check out my review of the original Ghostbusters here.

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