I’ve spent the last 24 hours staring at my laptop screen with a blank document staring back at me. It wasn’t writers block, anxiety, or even not knowing what to write – no, instead it was a case of being unsure of how to start, where to go, how to conclude, and in an honest and lucid way.
This film should have been a no brainier: an easy fun piece to write, but due to the running melee that preceded it’s release, (with fans of the old school films being very vocal about its cast and even their gender ), it made me doubt my view and how I felt about it. Was it really my opinion or was I being swayed by others?
It is therefore with great reticence that I now provide what I feel is my honest view on this film and one based on my own fandom and love for the franchise.
You can set the pyres aflame after.
Before the remake, various scripts and ideas for a third movie in the Ghostbusters franchise had been long planned, including one in which Bill Murray’s character was transformed into a ghost and another in which the Ghostbusters went to hell.
Unfortunately, Bill Murray’s reticence to commit to the project and the death of Harold Ramis resulted in the controversial decision to reboot the franchise instead; which was duly announced in 2014 with Paul Feig as the director.
Feig stated that he was partly inspired by the TV series The Walking Dead, mentioning that his goal was to “Tell a story that you haven’t seen before. Or tell a story you’ve seen before, but in a way you haven’t seen.” Contradiction, it seems, is something Feig was not adverse to embracing.
Tweeting a picture of his main cast: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones in January 2015, the fans went ballistic! Unfortunately for Feig this was not in a good way and the trailer set a record for the most disliked preview of a film on its premiere release date.
The plot line was simple and something we’ve heard before but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Why was this though? The story was a simple one and something we are all familiar with; Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) are a pair of unheralded authors who write a book theorising that ghosts are real. A few years later, Gilbert lands a prestigious teaching position at Columbia University only for her book to resurface and when an encounter with a class 4 free roaming vapor goes viral (YouTube plug), she is laughed out of academia.
It’s when ghosts invade Manhattan that Gilbert reunites with Yates, teaming up with a nuclear engineer, Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), a subway worker, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) and don’t forget trusty receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), to save the world from a mysterious, shifty and downright creepy character called Rowan (Neil Casey).
So far, so good right?
Well on paper maybe, but I feel I need to tackle the concerns for this film and Mr. Feig’s “vision” of the Ghostbusters franchise.
So, where to begin?
To say this is an original idea or unique story is questionable. The same introduction with a new lick of paint as the 1984 Ghostbusters, scientists who aren’t taken seriously and fired from their university jobs and the favourable giant apparition walking the streets of Manhattan. These are but a few of the easily recognisable scenes, the others? Well only to the more experienced paranormal exterminator can they be identified.
After collaborating with a good buddy of mine, fellow Ghostbuster and the best source of RGB knowledge (The Real Ghostbusters) going, Farudeboy Khan and I came to the same conclusion about the 2016 reboot. Paul Feig has used several if not more of the RGB plot lines to convince us he’s written, produced and directed an original film.
Now I know that’s one hell of a statement to use but I have the pudding to back it up!
The overall plot of the film has come direct from the RGB episode ‘The Halloween door’ while their first bust at the Beast Mayhem concert is taken from the episode ‘Banshee bake a cherry pie’.
These are the main scenes I wanted to list, there are many more that are used which include “The flipside, Mrs. Rodgers Neighbourhood” and the Pilot.
Now, onto a topic which in my mind, no doubt, will get me strung up like Viggo the Carpathian and we all know what happened to him! The “male” hate in this film is horrendous and the blatant jabs are sneakily hidden by what passes for humour. And not even dry humour, but Nickelodeon, Scary Movie, fart joke humour that feels unnatural and in some scenes forced.
Erin and Abby play the buddy cop role really well, in fact it’s the only good trait Paul Feig has when making a “group” movie. Holtzmann is so OTT when it comes to the mad scientist role that it becomes tiresome and uncomfortable to watch (eg. the DeBarge scene), Patty on the other hand is actually a fresh role. She oozed the charm of Richard Pryor and the sass of Whoopi Goldberg, leading me to really enjoy her character.
The F/X on the Proton Streams is a great homage to the original and it was amazing to see again. The ghosts, spooks and spectres on the other hand were in your face and too animated – even, Slimer’s appearance fell flat.
Ecto 1 was a sight for sore eyes, I thought the trade from an ambulance to a hearse was a nice touch. The proton packs were an adjustment for myself as the original design was flawless but hey! It worked.
I want to stress, I’m pro Ghostbusters! Meaning I believe anyone can be a Ghostbuster! Male, Female, Dog, Cat – even Slimer became a Ghostbuster at one point. Yes they’re women, yes they’re scientists, we’ve been introduced to female scientists before (Bernadette and Amy in TBBT, Madame Curie etc.) and I’m happy they’re Ghostbusters.
What I’m against is using something that is beloved by legions of fans and using it for your own purposes. You can call me out for not seeing it’s a deliberate mirroring of women being portrayed badly in most films but guess what, this is Ghostbusters. The reboot no longer seemed like a Ghostbusters movie but a huge ‘girl power‘ piece where women rule and men suck!
If you think I’m exaggerating? They turned Thor into a dumber than dumb blonde eye candy character and shot the main protagonist Rowan in the dick with proton streams. In the dick!
A great actor like Andy Garcia is left to play a self-obsessed mayor of New York while the blessed Bill Murray now plays a paranormal debunker who gets tossed out of a window by a ghost and killed. Sigourney Weaver has a cringe worthy line in which she says “Warning lights are for men!” And I’m left asking myself, was that line really necessary?
The saving qualities: these came in the form of Annie Potts and Dan Akroyd!
To see Annie in her trademark ‘Janine’ glasses and to hear her beautiful Brooklyn accent answering a phone saying “Whattaya want?” was like music to my ears and brought on nostalgic good feelings.
Onto the line that for me was worth sticking around and watching the entire film, Dan Akroyd’s own line. He plays a cab driver who is stopped by Erin trying to get back to GB headquarters in Chinatown, while the apocalypse seems to be running rampant through the streets of New York. When asked, Dan Akroyd’s beautiful response is “I ain’t picking up weirdos, I ain’t going to Chinatown and I ain’t afraid of no ghost!” Brilliant!
The end credit scene (yes there is one) is fun and a familiar name is said, I won’t spoil it.
As a reboot Ghostbusters falls flat for me. It was always going to have big ectoplasmic shoes to fill but the worse kind of director helmed the director’s chair. My thoughts are that if more time and originality went into the script instead of Paul Feig’s wardrobe and haircut, we might have had a half decent film. Instead we had a man who couldn’t take criticism from loyal fans who vented their displeasure in a film not because it had female ghostbusters; but because it was a franchise that didn’t need to be rebooted.
So in conclusion, the question is “Who ya gonna call?” My answer? Sorry, all lines are busy now please try again later.