Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

Ghostbusters (2016 / 2D)
Cert: 12A / 116 mins / Dir. Paul Feig / Trailer

Well, thanks to the sterling work of Sony's marketing department, the opening-night showing of the first new Ghostbusters cinematic content in twenty seven years (for which the tickets went on sale about a month ago) was less than half full. The audience in attendance didn't seem too phased by this, but the awkward shuffling of the three fully-suited cosplayers invited by the cinema to meet-and-greet at the front of the auditorium during the pre-trailer ads spoke volumes.

Yes, we finally get to see Paul Feig's XX-chromosomed interpretation of Ghostbusters; 60% reboot, 40% flat-remake. Leaving aside the aforementioned lacklustre publicity and the ferocious number of online misogynists entitled fanboys it's attracted, the film has its work cut out long before the BBFC card. Because if you can't top everybody's favourite movie, should you even try?

Well, Ghostbusters takes about half an hour before it feels comfortable doing its own thing, and even after that it's constantly referencing beats and tropes from the 1984 original. The plot-mechanics around the increased paranormal occurrences and the central villain are sketchy at best, feeble at worst; Cameos from the legacy-cast are shoehorned in to the point where they're practically spot-lit; the pop-soundtrack is intrusive and repetitive in the number of cover-versions and remixes of the song we all know; there's a McCarthy-sized gap between some of the scripted dialogue and the improvised lines; the sequel-alarm goes off far earlier than it should, and there's a point shortly before the climax where writers Paul Feig and Katie Dippold clearly didn't know how to wrap up the neon carnage they'd created in Times Square...

Also, the film's magnificent. Quite, quite magnificent. Because everything listed above doesn't matter when you're having this much fun. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones gel perfectly, and while the screenplay is anxious to get things moving at a brisk pace, they each have a lot to bring to the party (McKinnon and Jones pretty much steal the show, in fact. As they're relatively unknown to UK audiences, it's easier to buy into their characters*1). Chris Hemsworth's good fun as the dumb-blonde receptionist, but just as it feels like that joke's wearing thin, Feig finds a way to develop his character, too (well, a little).

Even in 2D the film is visually intense and it's deafening as soon as the action starts. As noted, there's very little in the way of downtime, but the pacing is fairly constant for all that. Is it a vehicle for SNL performers to riff off each other and indulge in puerile slapstick? Absolutely, as was the 1984 flick. While the methodology is suitably different, Feig captures the tone of the first movie and builds on it with the best of his own style.

And be warned: it's a 12A in the UK so if your kids are under ten, they may get a little freaked out. Although not as freaked out as I was by the library-ghost back in the day.
That's good though, right?

Will Ghostbusters 2016 be as iconic as its 1984 counterpart? No.
Does Ghostbusters 2016 need to be as iconic? Not at all.
The lightning-in-a-bottle of the original couldn't be recaptured by the same writers, director and cast five years later, so why would anyone expect a completely new gang to pull off the impossible more than quarter of a century after that?

But I'm happy to say that the new Ghostbusters is funny, exciting, gloriously self-indulgent and had everyone leaving the cinema grinning. And when it comes to a Summer-movie, I can't ask for more than that...

Oh, and wait around 'til the end of the credits.

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Ghostbusters (obviously), 21 Jump Street, and to a lesser degree Deadpool.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
If you're able, yes.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does, much to everyone's surprise/relief.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
It just might well be…

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Depends on how/why, but I'll be happy to discuss it at length with you over a pint.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Didn't hear one, but most of the action sequences are pretty much white-noise, to be fair.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: There could well be some direct links with voice-work in various SW projects (and there are certainly a few in behind the scenes departments), but let's go for Leslie Jones who plays Patty in this, and also appeared in 1998's Wrongfully Accused, as did Michael 'Nuvo Vindi' York.

Yes, I just reminded you that Nuvo Vindi is canon, didn't I?

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Wiig and McCarthy pretty much play the versions of themselves you've seen before, and while it works for this film, you also can't help but remember all the other times they've done that.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review. The movie has its falters, but it's still so fun and the cast is great.

    - Zach