14 July 2016

Well, I won't be calling the refund department (Review: 'Ghostbusters', 2016)

Now I've made my moans about remakes in the past and I'm going to take them back. While some remakes are unnecessary wastes of time, this one most certainly isn't.

When a female-led remake/reboot of the 1984 comedy classic Ghostbusters was announced, it was controversial to put it mildly. I won't go into all the sordid details here; Google will be able to help you.

I decided that I would wait until the reviews came out and decide whether to see it at the cinema or wait for a video release. The reviews have been pretty positive from many quarters, so I made my way to my 'local' (Vue Cinemas in Romford) on Wednesday to see it.

Ghostbusters revolves around Erin Gilbert (Kirsten Wiig), a professor who discovers that her old friend Abigail 'Abby' Jones (Melissa McCarthy) has published a book that they wrote five years earlier on ghosts without her permission. When she goes to confront her about this  she finds herself teaming up with Abby and her nuclear scientist friend Jillian to investigate a haunting at an old mansion. The trio, teaming up with a subway worker, find themselves facing the threat of a paranormal invasion of New York.

One thing that went through my mind while watching this movie is 'this is a femcom'; the film does feel very much aimed at women in its overall tone and depiction of the male characters. It also might explain the gender divide in the reviews.

Anyway, the plot is rather different from the original as the Ghostbusters find themselves having to deal with internet trolls, bureaucrats a hostile media and sky high property prices. Not to mention a crazed man out to unleash chaos on the city.

The movie in itself takes a little while to get fully going, but once it does, it's a real (proton gun) blast. I had a big grin on my face throughout much of the film, especially the action packed finale, which features stuff that wasn't possible effects wise back in 1984. There are also a set of wonderful cameos from the surviving leads of the original film; as well as a nice tribute to the late Harold Ramis (Egon) who died in 2014.

The four leads are not carbon copies of the original team; each is their own original character.

Erin is the 'straight woman' of the piece; managing to keep her cool despite everything that gets thrown at her, including a large quantity of slime. She also wears the world's smallest bow tie. Bow ties are cool and I like her hair as well.

Not being familiar with Melissa McCarthy's work, I found her pretty funny in this film; she handles the physical comedy very well and has just the right amount of frustration in her performance.

When I saw the first promo picture of Kate McKinnon (currently on Saturday Night Live where she does a great Hillary Clinton) as Jillian Holtzmann, with a shock of blonde hair and chewing gum, I thought 'I'm going to like her'. Looking like Egon, but acting like a crazier version of Venkmann, the gun-licking bit from the trailer isn't the goofiest thing she does in the film; she's a scene-stealing ball of irrepressible adorable energy and Jill is my new favourite Crazy Lady of STEM. Sorry, Root, please don't taser me.

Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) is the weak link in this film. Criticised for being a black stereotype (although the role was originally intended for McCarthy), she's the 'street smart' member of the team with a strong knowledge of NYC history, but to be honest, I just found her character too shrill for my tastes.

Finally, there's Kevin, the ditzy male receptionist played by Chris Hemsworth, known for playing Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He's really good here and if it wasn't for the presence of McKinnon, he'd steal the show.


While not exactly an Oscar-winner (although you never know, it may get nominations in the technical categories), it really doesn't matter. This is 116 minutes of great fun.

And I mean 116 minutes; make sure you stay right to the end of the credits.


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