The newest addition to the famed franchise “Ghostbusters” has been nervously anticipated. Now that it’s here, does it deserve the hate it’s been getting, based on its trailers alone?
The film is about a team of women who start a paranormal hunting business after the city of New York is attacked by ghosts and supernatural beings. City officials and residents become suspicious of the team and try their best to keep them down, but when a massive attack on the city becomes imminent, the newly dubbed Ghostbusters must take on the invasion.
The original 1984 “Ghostbusters” is one of those films that is almost impossible to dislike. With its eccentric cast, witty humor, well-realized visuals and almost-legendary theme song, “Ghostbusters” has gone down as one of the most recognizable pop culture icons of the 1980s. Everything from its hilarious lines, creative gadgets and memorable characters have been homaged, parodied and spoofed for more than 30 years.
Its 1989 sequel, “Ghostbusters 2,” is often hated on, but I personally enjoy it as a decent follow up that still contains great cast chemistry and some surprisingly good comedy despite its repetitive formula.
For years, a “Ghostbusters 3” was rumored to be in the works. The movie was going through development hell, with actors, directors, and producers all coming on and off the project. Things seemed pretty hopeless for the film, until news came out that Paul Feig, the director behind some of the most acclaimed modern-day comedies, such as “Bridesmaids” (2011) and “Spy” (2015), was brought on to direct a “Ghostbusters” reboot. Sony Entertainment announced that the gender roles would be reversed in this version and that the film would completely ignore the previously established “Ghostbusters” universe. Fans were skeptical, but optimistic — until the trailers were released.
To say the least, the world went berserk. Reactions were almost completely negative, with people panning the raunchy-looking comedy, the crappy-looking effects and the major changes from the original source material. Never before had I seen a movie trailer face an almost completely pessimistic reaction, with almost no interest in the film in sight. And to be honest, I was part of that crew who wasn’t completely on-board with the reboot, mainly because of the awful comedy the trailers presented.
But reluctantly, I bought my tickets and crossed my fingers, hoping that this film would at least be entertaining.
Let’s start with the positives, because there are some. First and foremost, despite the fact that the plot description seems almost completely reminiscent of the original film, there are certain elements that have been updated and actually work very well. Probably the most obvious change is the gender reversal, which, for the most part, is handled well.
The main cast, which includes Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, all have very obvious chemistry. The film’s best moments often involve them teaming up and fighting ghosts, helping keep the spirit of the original “Ghostbusters” intact throughout.
Speaking of which, another nice thing the film updates well are the action scenes. A wider variety of ghoul-fighting gadgets and ghosts are featured here and are all highlights, with a nice level of creativity and fun thrown into each of them, such as a ghost punching gun and a more silly version of the fan-favorite Slimer. These elements are taken to their peak when the action sequences come in, which are all incredibly fun and high energy, and take full advantage of their situation.
Sadly, “Ghostbusters” still does suffer from quite a few flaws that keep it from being the mind-blowing fun fest that the original was. The film’s biggest flaw ultimately comes from its way of depicting men in this universe, with just about all of them coming off as either embarrassingly stupid, cowardly or rude. A simple reversal of the gender roles would have been just fine, but the film seems to go out of its way to present men in a negative light that I found to be a bit offensive. Also, the comedy, while not as bad as the trailers may have made it seem, is definitely nothing too memorable. You’ll get a laugh, for sure, but they’re not the kind of jokes to make your stomach hurt.
The saddest cases are the jokes that were just plain unfunny, particularly during the film’s first half, as the awkward sound of that one laugh in the theater was the only reaction to be heard. There are also some awkwardly shoved-in references to the original film, which often fail to be funny and slow down the story pacing, unless you’re a die-hard fan of the original.
There is also some questionable writing as well. Some of the characters are written awfully — in particular: Kate McKinnon’s character, Holtzmann, who is obviously trying way too hard to be that main weird character that the audience is supposed to fall in love with, and the film’s villain (whose name I honestly can’t even remember due to his jaw-droppingly boring and cliched motives that we’ve all become sick of at this point). Add in some cringe-worthy product placement and some questionable cameos and “Ghostbusters” is just as average a comedy as you can get these days.
“Ghostbusters” is not as terrible as I thought it would be, but I still wouldn’t recommend it being a movie that you need to immediately run to the nearest theater and see. While the casting, pacing and creativity are handled incredibly well, the negatives here are just too prevalent. Personally, I’m very middle-of-the-road after seeing “Ghostbusters,” but when it comes to who I’m gonna call, the 1984 version still reigns supreme for me.
Mikael Trench, 18, is a rising freshman at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). He is an aspiring filmmaker who specializes in working with stop-motion animation. His latest short film, “The Tree That Refused To Fall,” can be found here.