Ghostbusters (2016) – Review


Now, if like me, you grew up in the early to mid 1990’s, you probably didn’t grow up with Ghostbusters but still caught the tail end of the Ghostbusters craze. Nevertheless, I loved that movie, I even liked the sequel which a lot of people don’t have that much fond affection for but to me it was up to the same standard of the original and it has clearly stood the test of time since Ghostbusters has become a large part of the geek culture to such an extent that the demands for a Ghostbusters 3 were rampant for years and years and of course Hollywood knew they were on a winner and tried to get one out, too bad that Ghostbusters 3 went through so much development hell that it never received a release. It went back and forth between various writers and directors and it’s been juggled around for ages and of course a full reunion of the original cast became impossible recently due to the sad death of Harold Reymuss. That left the franchise with an open vacancy, luckily, director Paul Feig stepped up to the plate, you may recognise his name as he has directed films like Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy which I reviewed last year, but then of course the internet went into an uproar when it was revealed that the Ghostbusters were going to be, shock, ALL WOMEN and my thoughts were it was a good idea. I thought any change to the cast was going to be a potential disaster, but I thought that starting afresh like this made a lot more sense and the fact that Paul Feig was directing also made a lot of sense. The man is very good at doing female driven comedies as I made evident in my Spy review. You couldn’t convince half of the fans though and everyone was writing this film off before they had even seen it and of course, now, I am very professional, so I did not write this film off until I saw the first trailer, which looked really awful and the second one didn’t do him any favours too and that was the point where I started to think that maybe this wasn’t going to work out and that’s not because the Ghostbusters were all women, the trailers just made the jokes look awful and really forced.

Now I sent a Tweet earlier this year saying that I believed that Batman V Superman would be the highest grossing film of the year and that Ghostbusters was going to be the biggest flop and judging by the Box Office when I was on holiday that one really bit me on the bum but of course the film came out both in America and the UK whilst I was on holiday so it was almost impossible to avoid reviews and reactions and I will go more into detail about that in the actual review, but needles to say I didn’t go into it entirely blind to peoples opinions of this film, though I did make sure not to watch any reviews on YouTube or read any reviews in publications. So when all is said and done, is this a Ghostbusters that matches up to the original?

The plot of this new Ghostbusters stems from a series of paranormal events taking place across New York City and is investigated by Abby Yates (played by Melissa McCarthy) and her partner Jillian Holtzmann (played by Kate McKinnon). Abby unwittingly ropes in her childhood friend and former partner in Ghost Studies Dr Erin Gilbert (played by Kristen Wiig) and are later joined by subway worker Patty Tolan (played by Leslie Jones). The Ghostbusters discover that there is a plan to open a Vortex in New York which will then unleash several ghosts across the City and cause an Armageddon type event. Can this new team save New York before it’s too late. The first day that it came out in the UK was the first day that reviews were relaxed and the critics were actually rather polite to it, it got a Rotten Tomatoes score of 79%, and a Metacritic score of 60, but the IMDB rating was down to a low 3.8 out of 10 which suggested that fans were not happy with the final product. My thoughts, that’s were things get a bit tricky. Ghostbusters was probably on the films that I felt was one of the hardest films I have had to get a grip on because I’m not really a fan of it. It’s not a very good film, but it’s not terrible, it’s a mixed film. If I had to say anything I would say that it leans more towards bad than good, but I wouldn’t say it’s a disaster there are some good ideas and good performances here.

I will start with some of the positives, because there are a lot more positives in this film than negatives. The first being the comedians are all well cast in their parts and are bringing their A game to the film overall. There are also some decent jokes and some moments even feel that they harken back very spiritually to the original Ghostbusters film. There is just one problem, these moments are few and brief. The film makers really want you to remember the original, however, I think this is going to backfire on them as the constant references get a bit tiresome. We can have two versions of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, The Slimer makes an appearance, there are all sorts of mini gags and cameo from original cast members including all three of the surviving Ghostbusters whose cameos vary in degrees of time they appear on screen, Bill Murray getting the most to do, and if you didn’t know the Ghostbusters theme song when you went into the movie, you will know it by the end because they never stop playing it and the covers vary from passable to in one case, downright awful. I think the major problem with these is that it actually makes you wonder why you aren’t watching the original movie since all of these things were done much better there!! It’s not really what I would call loving references, it’s more, see, this is a Ghostbusters movie! It suggests that the film makers don’t have enough confidence in the material to try anything new. That isn’t to say there isn’t any new and creative ideas in this film, it’s just they are few and far between. The villain’s plot, while decent is a very similar to a lot of modern Blockbuster plots, in fact the whole of this film feels like it’s playing to be a massive popcorn blockbuster in a way that I never got from the original and it’s very clear that Hollywood wants to make big bucks off of this given the sheer amount of limited edition products that have been put on sale such as the Ekto Cooler Fizzy drink in America as well as the vast amount of product placements in the film which feel incredibly blatant at times, including a staggeringly unsubtle amount of Pringles which feels like it’s on the tail end of an advert on daytime television and a 7/11 logo appearing on screen for a gag that really fails. It’s times like this that make you realise what a real damaging effect product placements are having on modern blockbusters. Granted we are nowhere near the sheer scale of product placements that the Bond films have. The humour is also written to be much more over the top and eccentric, which let’s face it, the first one had a lot of that, but unfortunately they have missed a lot of the subtle humour that the original had and I don’t think the 4 comedians playing the role had the same amount of chemistry on screen as Murray, Ackroyd and Reymus. There is also a ton of weird cameos although I feel that most of them will go over the heads of a British audience who aren’t familiar with American celebrities. I think the only one who will stand out for the British audience is Ozzy Osbourne in a very bizarre cameo who looked like he just wandered onto set one day.

The action scenes are a bit over the top, but that’s become to be expected with modern blockbusters and I was glad that they were there because I feel like this was necessary for the update, however, it still doesn’t feel incredibly within the spirit of the original and that’s the biggest sin of this film and it’s one of the major indictments I am going to hold over it. The writing feels a lot more desperate, and I get a sense that the writers and directors felt like they were being backed into a corner and didn’t really know what to do, although I think this is more out of love for the original and fear of disappointing a fan base and I can respect them for that. I get a sense that everyone was trying their hardest but it doesn’t quite work overall. It doesn’t matter if the car looks the same, the weapons look the same and the effects are very similar, it just doesn’t feel quite the same. I will say, however, this film is not devoid of amusing moments and there are some really funny moments in the film. The funniest scenes going easily to Chris Hemsworth whose comedic part in this has been greatly under-rated in the trailers. I was rather impressed by Leslie Jones in her role who is easily the funniest of the four women. I also thought that one of the other big faults of this film was that the climax feels like a really big rip off of the Avengers climax, not helped by the fact that both films take place in New York. Now granted it’s not as blatantly obvious as it was in the recent Ninja Turtles film that I reviewed but it wasn’t exactly impossible to spot the similarities and I was just saying in my head ‘it’s the Avengers, it’s the Avengers, I have basically paid to watch the Avengers again’!! It also doesn’t help that the end credits go on forever and keep being interrupted by a few after gags that were clearly written during the production, but they couldn’t find a place to put them in the plot, so they just stuck them on the end. Oh, and the villain, played by Neil Casey isn’t that interesting either and he also feels like an afterthought.

That being said, Neil Casey does give a decent performance and gets a funny line every so often and his casting along with a lot of the main casting is another part that harkens back to the original with the majority cast members being Saturday Night Live alumni??, including Kristen Wiig who does a decent performance. Melissa McCarthy who once again is working with Paul Feig and I am convinced we are going to be making jokes about him casting her the same way we make jokes about Tim Burton casting Johnny Depp. She delivers a really good performance once again and proves that she is a genuinely talented comedian, which makes me wonder what is going on when she appears in films like The Boss. Kate McKinnon is alright, but I think she is the weakest of the four main actresses in the film. The best of the main actresses, as I mentioned is Leslie Jones who is really funny in parts of the film, it’s a shame then that she is not given as much to do by the writers since I am fairly certain that Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy are meant to be playing the main characters. The best performance overall by far is Chris Hemsworth who is playing the dumb receptionist Kevin, who is given some fantastic lines and gags, including a decent running gag about wearing glasses with no lenses in them because he couldn’t be bothered to clean them and as a result high jinxes Sue and that’s not even the half of it. It’s very clear that Chris Hemsworth is having real fun in his role and he does a really good job considering he is cast against type in this film. Even when he is possessed by a Ghost and has to change personality part way through the film he does a dam good job of that too, honestly I feel ashamed to say that in a female driven comedy, the best comedic performance, is coming from a man. The cameos, however are not brilliant and the majority of them are cameos if not extended cameos. Bill Murray, despite the fact that he is given the most to do out of the three surviving Ghostbusters that have cameos in this film looks incredibly bored and feels like he is just there because he was offered a ton of money to be on set. The same goes for Dan Ackroyd who gets a really lame joke and I would dam near say that Ernie Hudson has got the smallest part because of the comments he made after it was announced that the 4 Ghostbusters were going to be women. The other cameos, again as I mentioned earlier will not be that well know to British audiences with the exceptions of Ozzy Osborne and Charles Dance who asserts to be a figure similar to Walter Peck in the original but has is dispersed with very quickly, again it feels like he just turned up on set and they wrote a part for him. The cast are not bad, they are trying their best, but are not given much to work with.

The effects, they are ok, they are actually half decent and I do not have many complaints about them. The CGI is alright and I will say that things like the Ekto 1 and the Proton Packs were all well made and I do like some of the attention to detail. I also thought that the Ghosts had some cool designs that worked pretty well, however, in the latter part when the film turns to an action romp, they are dispensed with so quickly that we are not allowed to appreciate some of those designs. I also feel like this is a film that is really insistent on not showing us everything that is going on during an action scene. There were some terrible cuts in the editing that I saw during the film, including a couple that broke continuity. I felt like bringing out the continuity meme done by former Channel Awesome contributor Phelous. My other big problem is that I saw the film in 2D and it seemed very evident that a lot of the effects were intended for the 3D version. Some of which will seem rather distracting in the latter format, including a couple of the shots that were specifically made for the trailer. If you can, I would say, see the film in 3D because it is very clear that the cinematographers and the effects people intended 3D as the best format to see it in, however, the 2D version is still fine, it’s just slightly distracting at points.

Ghostbusters is average, at best, and that is not what I want to say when I see a Ghostbusters movie, I want something great. The first two are great, I will stand by that. There is a reason these films got into geek culture as much as they did. It was down to clever writing, some good comedy and some really cool performances. This film tries to do all that, whilst referencing the original as much as possible, but I feel it backfires. Everyone is trying their hardest but it still doesn’t quite work and the negatives feel like they really out weight the positives. There were some decent comedic performances in the film, the major one being Chris Hemsworth, who finally appears in a comedy where he is actually allowed to be funny. This film would feel a massive disappointment if I hadn’t half written off the film on the trailers alone, but I at least went in giving this film a shot and I can’t act like I am not disappointed on some level. This film doesn’t suck, but it’s not good. It’s not going to make my worst of 2016 list, but I wish this film was better. The ending semi baits for a sequel, and I am fairly certain this will come, but I suspect this film will make a lot of money, especially from the female audience, judging by my screening where the majority of people in the cinema were young to middle age women, however, there needs to be improvement before the next film, though I will say that I think we can get a good film out of this Ghostbusters cast because they can be amusing at times. Oh, and if you go to a cinema performance of this, make sure you are not surrounded by the same audience that I had in my cinema who would not shut up!!!

Well normally I talk at this time about other films I have seen between my reviews, but this was the first film that I have seen since returning from my Holiday and despite the fact that I did see two films that I missed initially in cinemas from this year that I caught up with on DVD, those being art house film A Bigger Splash and police action thriller Triple 9 because they both were so boring that I just didn’t care.

I will pass comment on the 4 films I did see before I left for the Med. Starting with Kevin Hart comedy Central Intelligence, which despite the fact that I have mentioned my disdain for Kevin Hart several times, I have to admit this was a surprisingly decent comedy and that is mainly aided by his chemistry with The Rock, who also gets some incredibly funny moments in the film. The only time it fails is when it tries to have too much of a plot which doesn’t quite work, but they could have done a hell of a lot worse and it’s one of the biggest surprises of the year for me, because I also wrote this film off on its trailers. Oh, and I am calling him The Rock, I don’t care that he is going around calling himself Dwayne Johnson all the time, he is always going to be The Rock to me!

Absolutely Fabulous The Movie, could be on my worst of the year list. It’s another stifling example of a British television show turning up on the big screen trying to capture the Inbetweeners movie’s massive Box Office success and rather unlike that film, it’s a truncating mess, it can never pick a plot and stick with it. The comedy is all over the place. If you think the cameos in Ghostbusters are weird and don’t work, try the cameos in Ab Fab the movie, it all feels like the plot is being made to facilitate the cameos rather than the cameos being made to facilitate the plot. There are some bafflingly weird ones, which if I mentioned all of them, we would be here for a long time, and I don’t have enough time for that. I will say at least that Joanna Lumley is good at getting back to her role as Patsy and is easily the funniest person in the cast. Though special props to Rebel Wilson who delivers a decent cameo.

The Legend of Tarzan. I was hoping to review this if I had time, however, that being said, this isn’t that great a Tarzan film and I think people that are unfamiliar with the extended novels of Tarzan might be a bit surprised to find that they are not getting a Tarzan origin story with this film. It’s got some decent action, some decent performances but I don’t think they got into the psychology of Tarzan well enough. I also felt they tried too hard to turn Tarzan into a super hero movie, not that is necessarily a bad thing, but it you are going to do that it’s got to be well executed.

Finally, I want to talk about the latest Anime film that has been released on DVD and Blu Ray, Expelled from Paradise. It’s a 3D anime which I am not really of fan of usually because I think the animation looks a bit jittery and the characters don’t move and act as fluidly as they do in traditional hand drawn anime, but that being said, it’s the best example I have seen of it so far. It does have all those qualities and is easily recognisable as an anime. I can’t seriously recommend it since the plot is not that great or original, but it is a very enjoyable movie and anime fans should try it at least once. I can see why this did well at the Scotland loves Anime festival.

“So do you have any thoughts on Ghostbusters or any of the other films I have mentioned. Leave a comment below if you do, I welcome all opinions, good or bad and everyone is welcome to leave one. They can be brief or complicated, I would love to hear them.”

I know I haven’t been back that long, having only got two reviews out, but I am taking another week off to attend a music festival in Germany, but I will be back for most of August. My next review will be 12 August, where I will be reviewing Pixar sequel “Finding Dory”. Also I will be going over the films that I see between. Including my brief thoughts on the latest Ice Age film, The BFG and the latest Star Trek film, so if you are interested in any of those, you will want to read that review as well.

Thanks for reading my review. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it, and who you gonna call – ‘a better writer’!!!

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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The Next Axia29th May 2024
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