John's Take: Ghostbusters

It’s almost surreal to be writing a review of Ghostbusters, no…not because it was a hallowed movie of my childhood from which I still pull quotes for specific situations. I mean, it is, but not because of that. No, it’s surreal because it seems like years (and looking back it has been) have passed since talk of a reboot/sequel first started being bounded around, and really it has been. There was the original team coming back for a third, then talk of a Seth Rogen/Jonah Hill crew sequel, then back to the original team, with the wheel finally landing on the all-female reboot. Now that “all-female” part was sure to ruffle some feathers. Why? I have no clue…honestly, what’s the big deal? I’ll have to pull back there because this will lead into an entire article on why blowback on “childhood killing” complainers need to just stop…case in point, they don’t ban the originals…so just watch those. Anyway, the story remains the same, three scientists with a penchant for the paranormal are discredited and decide to go all in on outing the things that go bump in the night by starting a phantom disposal business. This business is well-timed as, at the same time, there is a psycho on the loose detonating devices that thin the veil between our world and theirs which will eventually cause the two to combine.

Well, I’m proud to announce that there will be no hate toward this movie because of the all-female cast. That’s not really true…some people are simple and will let that be the reason for their dislike but the thing is there are far more legitimate reasons to dislike this movie. First off, it’s not possible to detach this flick from the original, so I went into it purposely re-framing my view that this would be a fun to watch and cool looking flick with plenty of funny moments. On those three points it didn’t disappoint. It was (mostly) fun to watch, it looked really cool…extra kudos to the VFX team and there were a lot of funny moments. The problem was that as the movie progressed it got progressively more stupid, less laughs and more “Really?” moments. Honestly, what would have saved a lot of this flick was to have it as a sequel. The original team hangs it up after years of no activity and this new team picks up. That would explain the gaps in logic and story where they are able to create, understand, and improve on the ghost catching technology almost immediately. For anyone that wants proof, look no further than the Holtzman scene near the end that is ripped directly from Zack Snyder’s playbook in such a blatant way that it almost feels like a parody only they forget to play it for laughs. They go from nerdy scientists trying to uncover the unknown to legitimate anti-ghost samurai with a multitude of weapons that do whatever fits the current situation and it doesn’t feel earned. There’s plenty of fan placating to be had, none of which feels forced or detracts from the movie.

The main problem, I think, is that they didn’t know whether they wanted to create a new world or reboot what we know. There are some very obvious beats taken from the original, most glaringly the scenes with the mayor, that can’t help but to remind you of the original which does this film no favors. The mayor scenes in the original Ghostbusters were classic, perfectly crafted, and full of quotable dialogue “Cats and Dogs, Living together, MASS HYSTERIA!!”. In this reboot they are, well, just flat and boring. Even the Walter Peck character, Jennifer Lynch, has no qualities that make her either funny or original and she most certainly doesn’t replicate the loathe inducing performance of William Atherton who was possibly the best evil character actor of the 80’s.
This isn’t to say that there are no redeeming qualities, Chris Hemsworth’s take on the “dumb blonde receptionist” stereotype is hilarious, and given the over the top nature of just how stupid his character is, the fact that he is funny and not annoying after five minutes is a testament to his comedic ability. Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig are great, same goes for Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones…it’s not a casting (and therefore not a gender) problem. The issue is what they were given to work with, which sadly…isn’t much. Ok…this was supposed to be the positive paragraph but somehow I circled back around. Here we go, back on track. The visuals are amazing! The ghosts are both terrifying and transfixing. Though I complained about the new equipment they were able to create, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it did up the cool factor and was really inventive. Extra points for fitting in every single original Ghostbuster in a cameo that worked.

It's hard to say if people are going to like Ghostbusters or not. Honestly, I think it all boils down to your attachment to the original…like most reboots. It’s a fun movie whos faults are numerous but not catastrophic. Certainly as a fun summer movie it fits the bill but iconic status is not something that’s going to be passed on to this flick.

2 out of 5 Guttenbergs