by Erik Poulsen, Movie Critic
The Hollywood machine is in full effect churning out yet another unnecessary and uninspired reboot of a classic movie franchise. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Paul Feig’s 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters ever since the casting of four women as the main leads was announced. Those fans, like myself who have fond memories of the original 1984 film, have been clamoring for another sequel starring the original cast for more than 30 years. With the death of Harold Ramis in 2014, it looked like we would never see the Ghostbusters on the big screen again. How I wish that stayed true.
It’s difficult to judge a film like this based on its own merits without comparing every aspect of it to the vastly superior original. Although I tried to leave my preconceived notions at the door, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching an unfinished product. On paper the movie has a lot going for it; Director Paul Feig’s (Bridesmaids, The Heat) last few movies, some of which starred the talents of McCarthy & Wiig, were a few of the most successful and funny summer comedies of the past 5 years. Unfortunately, whatever lightening in a bottle that was caught during those productions has seemingly vanished along with whatever chemistry the two lead actresses had with each other in the past. It was a smart decision to not have a character try to emulate Bill Murray’s sardonic delivery, however, with both actresses playing the straight man, there is no comic foil between them, which has you waiting for a punchline that never comes.
This movie is completely disjointed and doesn’t quite know what tone it wants to take, especially when compared to the original which even if you removed the comedy element was still a cohesive horror movie. Saturday Night Live’s Leslie Jones takes over the Ernie Hudson role as the only non-scientist Ghostbuster, who conveniently also happens to have extensive historical knowledge of New York City. The fourth member of the team, Kate Mckinnon, is also a current cast member on Saturday Night Live and plays the teams neurotic and slightly insane tech expert. Her performance is completely hit or miss and seems as if she improvised each scene with a different personality, each one inconsistent with the last scene. Sometimes she comes off quirky, sometimes she’s certifiably insane. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) plays against type as the Ghostbusters receptionist. His performance as the stereotypical dumb blonde was a scene stealer, and it showed that Hemsworth has more than enough comedic timing to be cast in future comedies.
The movie’s plot plays out like a loose version of the original, only without the charm. Visually, Ghostbusters is a good looking movie, showcasing colorful CGI ghosts as well as some iconic New York locations. The biggest problems with this reboot is it does nothing to try to improve upon the original. The film, although similar to the original, doesn’t develop its characters very well making everyone seem cartoon-like or as if each scene was written as a parody. The surviving original cast, minus Rick Moranis, all return with surprisingly unfunny cameos. The antagonist’s motives were never really explained, making him completely one dimensional and ultimately a forgettable character. In fact, I just saw the movie an hour ago and I can’t even remember his character’s name…
Now for the big question, is Ghostbusters an entertaining movie? For those nostalgic over the originals, I would say absolutely not, despite the fact that this movie is loaded with Easter eggs no doubt designed to please the millions of fanboys who grew up with originals. However, all they’ve accomplished by adding in those little visual pieces of nostalgia, is to remind us long-time fans that the past stays in the past and this is the new Ghostbusters for a new generation. I can’t help but imagine what this movie should have been instead of the missed opportunity it turned out to be. Ghostbusters had the chance to recreate something special, and not just end up as another movie you’ll forget about before the summer ends. Swing and a big miss.
I give Ghostbusters a C+.
Directed by: Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mckinnon & Leslie Jones.