By Saul Blackwell
This rebooted of the classic 1984 Ghostbusters was marred with controversy from the very beginning. The horrendous sexism that was spewed at the production after the initial announcement of an all female cast, including death threats, was horrific and created an atmosphere of negativity around the film. Then the first trailer was lackluster, confusing and boring, and seemed to support the low expectations set by that vicious outcry.
The second trailer was a turning point, much sharper and funnier, the film suddenly seemed to show some promise. And so it should, Director Paul Feig reunited with Bridesmaids alumni Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig and used their previous success to get this film off the ground. The rest of the main cast is fleshed out from the Saturday Night Live stable of performers (many more of whom appear scattered throughout the movie) and Chris Hemsworth. A star studded affair by any measure and very much in keeping with the 1984 Ghostbusters, throw a stone on the set of the original and you would have hit someone from SNL, if it bounced you would have hit two.
With all this going on my main concern was, is it just a scene by scene remake? Little more than an update with better effects and a main cast genderswapped? Would this actually offer anything new?
I needn't have worried. While the roles stay the same, three white scientists and one black blue-collar worker, the characters are very different. A true believer who never lost her faith, a true believer who turned her back on her beliefs to fit into the mainstream scientific community, the crazy gadget making genius with impulse control issues, the enthusiastic customer who decides to join the club and the beefcake. Though why not a black scientist? Or Asian? Latino? Anyone who wasn’t white? It seems like a weird stereotype to be reinforcing.
But it’s funny, much funnier than I was expecting, and even when it wasn’t funny I was smiling. Which is great. How often do you smile for two hours straight through a movie? Probably not that often. Not to say it’s a perfect film, there’s pacing issues, gags that don’t land and some plot threads that are left hanging. Including a fully choreographed dance sequence that’s set up and then cut.
Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig are good co-leads, toning down their usually over the top acting and settling in as the sensible scientists that just want to prove their theories and have their work taken seriously. Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones are the standouts for me. Kate McKinnon goes full Tank Girl, building weapons, blowing shit up and being crazy. She also has the most kickass scene in the film. Leslie Jones gets to not be angry. That doesn’t sound like much but, in everything I’ve ever seen her in, she’s the angry black women. Not this time, this time she a happy, passionate, excited woman that just wants to help. She’s a joy to watch. Unfortunately, Chris Hemsworth is massively underutilised, reduced to little more than holding up topless picture of himself.
There’s plenty for anyone that remembers the original. All the surviving cast make their obligatory appearance, even Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man pop up. Much to the enjoyment of the audience I was with.
Overall, it’s a fun movie that will entertain the whole family, though it might not be suitable for young kids due to all the ghosts. Check it out.