Movie Review: Ghostbusters

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I haven’t done a movie review in ages (well, if you don’t count my Star Wars non-review), bit it kinda feels like this was required for various reasons – not least how divisive the film seemed to be before it released, like some kind of Hollywood Brexit.
Anyway, Ghostbusters is, for better or worse, a remake of the 1984 movie of the same name. A gender-swapped remake, but nonetheless a remake, hitting pretty much all the same plot points from slightly different angles. And that in itself is going to put some people off, but on the basis that J J Abrams managed to remake the original Star Wars and have it be awesome, it’s gotta be worth a look, right?

And actually, as the film started, I was pleasantly surprised. I liked all the Ghostbusters – the writers didn’t just give us Pete, Ray, Egon and Winston with boobs, they gave us… new characters. Fun, intelligent, witty, kick-ass chicks – and that’s what I wanted. I want my 10 year old daughter to see that not only can a woman be a scientist, but she can be a scientist and be hella cool at the same time. I suppose it’s kind of sad that this paragraph needs to exist, or that the whole gender-swap thing was such a big issue, but there we go, it’s out there now, and as far as I’m concerned girls can definitely grow up to be Ghostbusters.

Men, on the other hand, cannot be receptionists. And at the risk of sounding sexist, Kevin is where the whole gender-swap thing fell apart. Yeah, he’s the dumb blonde just there for eye-candy, but for me his dumbness was just too dumb; he was comedy stupid in a way that didn’t really fit alongside the Ghostbusters. This is me seeing it as a man, of course, so maybe I’m wrong, but wouldn’t it have made a better message if Kevin had at least had a couple of brain cells to rub together to show that actually, yes, you can be a pretty cool guy but do a traditionally ‘female’ job like be a receptionist. I mean, Janine was bored and snippy at work sometimes, but you never got the feeling her head was totally empty.

There’s a goat on the loose.

But enough about him, let’s talk about the ghosts. Ghosts is a fairly broad term as far as the Ghostbusters franchise is concerned; in the original movies there are ghosts of dead people, and entities from another dimension who have god-like powers in our own, and a similar mix applies here. Only, more so, because CGI has advanced 30 years in the interim, so we get a lot more weird and wonderful spectral entities zipping around New York when the Twinkie reached critical mass.

No, wait, the Twinkie was in the original. Never mind.

On the subject of Twinkies and the original movie: the cameos and callbacks. I guess it’s a thin line when remaking a cult classic with a following of its own, but for me I think they just tipped it over the edge a little. I can’t quite put my finger on why; maybe Bill Murray’s extended cameo was a bit too much without really adding anything of substance, or maybe having Janine turn round as if to say ‘surprise!’ rendered it completely unsurprising, or more likely the apparently bolted-on-as-an-afterthought appearance of Sigourney Weaver was just too hideously unsubtle for words. Oh, and Ozzy’s cameo? That should have stayed on the cutting room floor.

That said, Aykroyd and Hudson’s cameos were great; as were some of the more subtle references to the original, tucked away in the dialogue for Ghostheads and Easter Egg hunters to geek out over later. Even the appearance of Mr Stay Puft, and the unlikely means of his demise, were quite satisfying.

Being a bit of a petrolhead, of course, I would have liked a cameo by the original and iconic Ecto-1, or something like it (if there was one, I missed it!); the reboot Ectomobile was simply not in the same league – but then, they would have had to pull something pretty awesome out of the bag to top the original.

ectominiUnfortunately though, the slightly bland car and over-cooked fanservice were not the worst things about this movie. While it all started off good and fun and an interesting take on a classic, once the ‘big bad’ made his final play, it all went downhill rapidly.

Spoiler alert

I can live with Rowan hanging a lantern on the obvious wire work. I can almost live with him possessing the entire NYPD and making them strike a pose, although that was a missed opportunity for a Thriller flash-mob to end all flash-mobs. But to turn into a crappy cartoon of the Ghostbusters logo, which then grows into an angry kid in a romper suit trampling on his train set… No. I wasn’t on board for that, or the Slimer family hijacking Ecto-1 so it could become a nuke and save New York. Or, in fact, the portal jumping final scene that was lifted straight out of the climax of Big Hero 6.

Bottom line: I would have preferred a sequel, or even a reboot that took more of a diversion from the original. But it is what it is, and while it could have been more, at least half of it was a good fun flick – and even the ending I didn’t like was no worse than the end of Ghostbusters 2, which I suppose is a plus… But the new team were fun, and I could bear to watch a sequel with these Ghostbusters, especially if it took their story off in a completely original direction.

Overall: it’s not terrible. Not terrible at all.

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