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Review: Ghostbusters – “Not the train wreck that the trailers led us to believe”

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When it was announced there was going to be a new Ghostbusters film, people seemed happy. When it was announced it would be an all female team, people were not happy. When the first trailer dropped, people were not happy. Then we had the theme song by Fall Out Boy….I don’t want to think about that. Now the film is out, will you be happy?

To be honest, I never had a problem with an all female team. If you are remaking, rebooting or whatever then make whatever changes you want. Doesn’t make the slightest bit of different to me about the gender of the team. As for the whole remake / reboot thing, again I am not bothered in the slightest. As I have said many times before, the original is always going to be there and the remake could always be good. There are lots of examples of this, John Carpenter’s The Thing being my go to pick.

Therefore, I had no problem with a new Ghostbusters. Sure, I would have liked to have seen a continuation of the universe set up in the original films, but that wasn’t going to happen. I had an open mind. I liked the cast and have enjoyed seeing them in many different films and TV shows. My one concern was the fact Paul Feig was directing it. I’ve seen a few of his films and, while I have chuckled in places, none of them have really stuck in my mind. They’ve all just left me feeling a bit “meh!”

Before I go any further I will say that Ghostbusters is now my favourite Paul Feig film.

Okay, skipping back a bit. We had that first trailer and by crikey it was a mess. It couldn’t decide whether it was showing us a reboot or a sequel and it just seemed to consist of people shouting crude jokes. Such a bad trailer.

The omens didn’t look good.

So it was with a weary heart that I settled down to watch the film, in 2D. I really didn’t know what to expect.

Luckily, what I got was okay, or alright as I so often describe a film. It wasn’t a classic, but it wasn’t the mess that the trailers and professional naysayers of the Internet promised. Instead it was a bit of fun, with some good comedy moments and some decent characters. Sure, there are problems and things that did not work, but it was an enjoyable time at the cinema and sometimes that is all you need.

Now I know I am not going to convince some of you out there that were determined not to like the film. There will be many of you who will disagree with me when you do go to see it, but that is the way of all films. We’re never going to agree on all things and if we did the world would be a very boring place.

The new film does follow the main beats of the original. We open with a ghost freaking out a witness. Then we have the team slowly coming together.

We see Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) meeting up with an old friend, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). They had a falling out a long time ago after they published a book about ghosts. Abby now works with Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) a super cool and weird engineer and physicist. They are joined by Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) who worked for the subway and knows the secret history of New York City.

They hire the the “Thor” but dim Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) as their receptionist and we are all up to speed.

A couple of cases show the same weird equipment at both places and they realise somebody is breaking the barrier and bringing the spirits to our world, so who you gonna call?

The team work well together and we see them developing as the film moves on. We also see the origin of their logo, name and the various pieces of equipment they use. We get the original proton pack which Holtzmann continually refines and, as in the original, this is used to catch and move ghosts. However, she does make other proton weapons that basically rip or blow up ghosts.

I will stay with McKinnon’s Holtzmann for a moment as she, along with Hemsworth’s Kevin, is the highlight of the film for me. Strange and with a mind that is always ten stops ahead of the rest she brings a laid back spontaneity mixed with a demented glee to every scene she is in. Plus she has the best action sequence near the end when she unleashes the proton whips. Chris Hemsworth does amazing things as the studly air head that is Kevin. This also brings some good laughs when Kristen Wiig is constantly trying to be near him.

Wiig, McCarthy and Jones are all good, but just don’t seem to have the spark that McKinnon and Hemsworth seem to have. It also seemed that they were trying too hard with the humour in some scenes. It did feel forced in places and just fell flat. Yet when it was just a natural part of the conversation or result of the events going on around it worked well. I am not sure whether that was a result of the original script or the actors improvising.

There is a great supporting cast (although some could just be considered cameos) – Zach Woods, Charles Dance, Ed Begley Jr., Steve Higgins, Michael McDonald, Ozzy Osbourne, Cecily Strong, Michael K Williams and Andy Garcia to name but a few. They are all solid, but don’t bring anything major to the film. Garcia’s Mayor could possibly be my favourite of the bunch.

The actors from the original film all have their cameo moments. I quite like how they honoured Harold Ramis. A nice touch and I could see Sigourney Weaver and Ernie Hudson showing up in future instalments. Dan Aykroyd’s cameo felt like he was in an actual Ghostbusters sequel, almost as if Ray had fallen on hard times. While I looked forward to seeing Bill Murray, I felt his moment was the weakest of the cameos.

Neil Casey plays Rowan North, the big bad of the film, but he doesn’t really have much to sink his teeth in to and that’s one of the faults with the film. It is all about the Ghostbusters so everyone else is just on the periphery. Things go big and bad in the last act, but we don’t get a sense of peril and it all feels a bit small because this. For such an earth shattering event it would have been good to have had more of a feel for the big, thriving city that is New York.

There are also problems with the pacing of the film. We get a good set up of the team coming together, but it seems that they have their first mission and then we are on to the big battle. I would have liked to have seen more of the team going around, catching ghosts, and interacting with customers.

Then we have the effects. On the whole, they are pretty good. They haven’t messed around with the proton stream, which was great to see. The main character ghosts also look pretty cool. All blue and glowing red eyes. However, when there is more than one on screen it all becomes a bit of a cartoonish blur. The Macy’s Parade ghosts and the Pilgrims do seem rather sinister at first, but it seems when the human element is on screen with them then it doesn’t quite work. In those final scenes it does feel like we are just watching actors in front of a green screen going through the motions. There is a slight disconnect with their actions and the ghosts they are fighting. The aforementioned proton whip scene does work the best.

It was while watching the battles at the end with the many different types of spirits and ghosts, that I realised that this wasn’t a reboot or remake of the original film. It is more a remake / reboot of the cartoon series (a show that I loved), even down to Kate McKinnon’s Egon quiff from the show. That’s no bad thing, but not quite what I wanted from a new Ghostbusters film. Still, that should give you a better idea as to what to expect going in.

All in all, not a great movie, but it was fun and not the train wreck that the trailers led us to believe.

3-out-of-5

If you have seen the film then share your thoughts in the comments below.

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