When there’s something strange, in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call?! NO! NOT THEM! THEY’RE WOMEN!!! Join me as I see if the Ghostbusters reboot is worth the amount of hate the internet has thrown at it.
Some movies define a generation. Jaws, Star Wars, Kevin and Perry Go Large. Some are said to define said generation once someone says that they are remaking it with girls in the leading roles to justify the amount of rage that is then aimed at it. Thus began the utterly horrendous tide of sexism when the new Ghostbusters movie was announced. “Girls can’t carry Proton Packs!!!” screamed the nerd community. It was almost as embarrassing to be a nerd then as that time that they made Johnny Storm Black… Luckily the end result is a movie that, whilst it has some weaknesses, is great fun and well worth a watch.
First things first; this movies strength is the four main roles. Melissa McCarthy’s believer and ghost scientist Abby, Kristin Wiig’s lapsed paranormal scientist Erin, Kate McKinnon’s completely mad engineer Holtzman and Leslie Jones’ brilliant sass-queen Patty come together to make a team that are truly worthy successors to Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis and Hudson (who may or may not turn up in awesome cameos…). Their chemistry is undeniable and they feel like a group of people pulled together by incredible circumstances. Abby is dedicated and bullish, Erin holds onto her reservations, Holtzman is generally completely disconnected from reality and Patty is completely unimpressed by any of the insane things that are going on around her. Together they make a team that is great fun to watch, but I also found myself rooting for from the start of the film right up until the end. The other nice thing is that finally a group of women are allowed to be together on screen in a Hollywood movie without any reference to their sexuality! It may sound like a silly thing to mention, but afterwards I found myself feeling very refreshed that none of them succumbed to some sort of forced romance sub-plot. These are people coming together to fight the paranormal, nothing more, nothing less and that’s just great! Don’t worry though, the XY chromosome does get a look in in the chiselled form of Chris Hemsworth, who’s hilarious turn as the ditzy, but lovable, Kevin, underlines the movie’s refusal to abide by standard Hollywood tropes.
Another major strength of this film is the colour palette, which is both strong and distinctive. The ghosts have a feeling of the ethereal, whilst also being incredibly present and solid when needed. The design is less cartoonist from what has come before, but the real joy is seeing Proton Packs and their beams done with modern computer effects. These beams have a weight and punch that, when combined with the cast’s great recoil miming abilities, make you really believe that these are powerful machines that can do a lot of damage. The brightness of the film in general is also a change from the normal washed out green or blue palettes that film makers seem to have preferred since the Matrix. The contrast between the sunny day scenes and the glowing, spectral night sections of the film provide a great backing to the ghosts themselves when they turn up. With such a distinctive look going on I found it a bit of a pity that not enough of the ghostly moments are played for scares, but I suspect that may come down to personal taste more than an actual problem with the film.
I would love to say that the rest of the movie flows as well as the repartee between the cast and the beams from the Proton Packs, but the truth is that the plot is somewhat loose. The pacing of the movie tends to be a bit hit and miss as it veers from exposition to character pieces to action scenes without a huge amount of reason. Luckily the strength of the cast and their comedy timing prevented me from realising this whilst I was sat watching the film, and it was only afterwards when I went back over it that I started to notice the plot holes and pacing issues. That being said, I’m pretty sure that this film could have lost fifteen to twenty minutes (most of which would have been cameos) and felt a lot tighter for it. The other issue that makes the film feel a little less satisfactory than its opening scenes and amazing cast promise is the lack of a solid bad-guy. I won’t mention any names as that would be a spoiler, but suffice to say the film spends enough time on setting up the new characters and having fun with them that the villain is left being not much more than a caricature for them to fight against. This is a pity, as the heroes do such a great job of being the lovable underdogs that I couldn’t help but want to see them go up against a real and credible threat. Unfortunately this is the only bit of the film that does feel pretty standard. It doesn’t harm the film too much, but it is a definite off-note in an otherwise fun and enjoyable symphony.
This would not be a Ghostbusters review if I didn’t mention the original. In the interests of transparency I should say; I love the original (Viggo the Carpathian is fun too, but Ghostbusters 2 was nowhere near as good as the first film). I will also admit that I’m not sure its as much of a classic as people now make it out to be. There is no doubting that the cast and script are genuinely brilliant, but the film as a whole could be seen, by a new pair of eyes I hasten to add, as somewhat dated. I’m glad to say that the remake does not suffer too much in comparison, even to eyes that remember the original (and even the pretty awful Ghostbusters 2) with rose-tinted memory lenses. This film is a lovely change to a lot of remakes in that it pays homage to both the overall feeling and comedy of the original without forcing itself to drown in references. It also manages to avoid too many moments of “franchise creation” and concentrates on it’s own story rather than setting up future ones. I am quite sure that someone who had never seen either of the original films, which is entirely possible in this strange future world we live in, would love it and not suffer at all from missing the references.
So, we are left with a solid film that suffers from a weak bad-guy, like a lot of films these days do (I’m looking at you Marvel!), but holds together because of a great cast and a huge amount of chemistry!
Three Moons out of Five.