Jul 122016
 
Title: Ghostbusters
Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Kristen Wiig,
Melissa McCarthy,
Kate McKinnon,
Leslie Jones,
Chris Hemsworth
Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Runtime: 1 Hour 56 mins
Music: Theodore Shapiro
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Certificate: US: PG-13
UK: 12A
Release Date: US: Jul 15 2016
UK: Jul 11 2016
See If You Like: Ghostbusters (1984),
Ghostbusters II,

A film which has been both craved and condemned in equal measure since its very announcement,  the all-female led Ghostbusters remake is finally upon us, and while it may not light the world on fire, or go down as a true classic like the original, it’s not only fun, but far far better than expected.

While the plot is essentially the same as the 1984 original; where three scientist friends, along with a new streetwise employee, take their experiments into documenting the existence of the paranormal and turn it into an actual ghost hunting business; the new film switches out the return of a demigod plot-line for a lukewarm story about a bullied man who decides he’s going to open the door to the realm of the undead and bring about the apocalypse simply because a few people have been mean to him.

Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy (here reuniting with their Bridesmaids director Paul Feig) headline as the everyday professor and the enthusiastic believer respectively, and are joined by Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones (both best known for their time on Saturday Night Live) as the eccentric engineer and the streetwise latecomer respectively; together making an exceptionally well rounded team which not only feels whole, but gels so well it gives each member plenty of chance to shine.

While Wiig takes on most of the dramatic moments she also gets her fair share of the comedy (largely revolving around her obsession with the hunky receptionist Kevin; played by Thor’s Chris Hemsworth). Her character also provides a great in-road to this world as the believable skeptic who starts to enjoy her journey into the paranormal more and more as the film goes on, and she easily slots into the slightly awkward, still extremely chatty, role with ease.

McCarthy’s role is more of the fast-talking believer, and as she’s given plenty of opportunity to do what she does best; spewing quick-talking, heavily improvised, dialogue designed to make fun of various situations; so any fan of hers is sure to find a lot to love here.

The same can be said for Leslie Jones’ subway-booth-working character; a loud-mouthed latecomer whose brash nature and knowledge of New York brings a lot to the team; she’s loud, she’s in-your-face, and she constantly makes you acutely aware of who she is and what she’s doing. It’s just unfortunate her shouty exterior makes it seem as if she’s performing a live skit/stand-up routine rather than acting in a blockbuster movie.

Chris Hemsworth is also brilliantly funny as the dim-witted receptionist Kevin (who the girls only keep around because he’s so nice to look at), but the real Ghostbusters gem is Kate McKinnon; her performance as the eccentric engineer Holtzmann is simply electric; she steals the show every single time she’s on screen, she has such a high energy, she’s undeniably charismatic, and her mannerisms, mischievous nature, and sheer presence make her the one to watch, and a perfectly updated version of the Egon character who not only fits this specific film with ease, but is a fantastic addition to the Ghostbusters world as a whole.

Ghostbusters 2016 01

Effects-wise the Ghostbusters remake also blows the original out of the water. True, there’d be something wrong if it didn’t look a damn sight better than its 32-year-old counterpart, but the effects here are stunning even by modern standards, and while the ghosts look amazing, the streams from the proton packs also look cool, and the slim is as slimy as ever, it thankfully all still looks like a true Ghostbusters film.

Yet, despite the strong cast, the in-group charisma, the one-liners from Kevin, and the excellent effects work, there’s no denying Ghostbusters has its issues; firstly the Fall Out Boy theme tune isn’t a patch on the original (Fall Out Boy simply can’t rip-off Huey Lewis as well as Ray Parker Jr. did), the entire film simply isn’t funny enough and lacks both the cleverness, the zaniness, and the believability behind characters words and actions which the original had (take note Hollywood – simply spouting vague scientific jargon at 100 words-per-minute does not make your film sound clever, or give it any sort of scientific credibility).

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One of the biggest bugbears with the entire film, is how it simply doesn’t do enough to innovate or expand on the original film; aside from the rather lame new villain (which pales in comparison to the final act of the first Ghostbusters), it’s a straight carbon copy delivered with little fanfare. A Perfect example being the final battle, where the ‘Busters take on an army of attacking ghosts with all manner of new ghostbustin’ weapons, amounts to nothing but a chaotic mess with no heart, meaning, or excitement behind it.

Still, it’s obviously done enough to impress as there were some worthwhile jokes (you just have to put up with a mountain of verbal diarrhoea from McCarthy and Wiig to get there), a number of brilliantly placed homages to the original, and nostalgically pleasing cameos from all of the original Ghostbusters (Annie Potts’ appearance was by far the best, though it was wonderfully touching to see a Harold Ramis nod worked in too) along the way.

Any remake was going to sadly suffer in comparison to the exceptionally brilliant 1984 film (which itself didn’t exactly bowl over critics at the time), and this new Ghostbusters falls into the same trap as so many other remakes of classics; delivering a play-by-play re-telling which unfortunately lacks the heart of the original, and fails to update it, or innovate, in any significant way. Still, it’s as strong a Ghostbusters reboot as you could have hoped for, far funnier than expected, filled with a charismatic cast who simply ooze fun, provide a number of amusing one-liners, and give a new generation some Ghostbusters of their own.

But, in a few years time… Who’m I Gonna Rewatch? – [the 1984] Ghostbusters!

Matt Wheeldon@TheMattWheeldon.

Verdict
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