Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016)

Okay, before I get into this review, let me make one thing absolutely clear.  I HAVE NOT received any perks from Sony or Columbia Pictures for this review.  No free screening (paid for my ticket), no swag in any way.  Hell, I bought my own beer... so I owe Sony/Columbia NOTHING!

Had to get that out of the way, as a lot of Internet trolls are suggesting any reviewer with a positive take on the new Ghostbuster film was paid off by the studio.  I WAS NOT, and I have to make that clear because I really liked the film.  It was much more fun that Batman V. Superman or X-Men: Apocalypse, delivering about two hours of a cast of characters busting ghost, taking names and delivering some laughs without having to go all dark and depressing.  All you could want in a summer movie.

Let the nerd rage commence....

And bring it on, as I'm sure these gals
have my back

To be honest, the reboot isn't the best movie ever, but it's solid fun and a big step forward in how women in action/comedy films are portrayed.  And, though I can't call it a true horror comedy (as with the first two films, they are comedies with horror elements), I feel I need to discuss this film in the hopes that it gains more support and changes how women are portrayed in genre related films.

But more about that later.  Onto the plot...

Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a candidate for tenure at Columbia University.  But her academic plans are derailed when a book she cowrote with Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), attempting to give a scientific explanation for ghosts, shows up on Amazon.  She finds this out when approached by the curator of a potentially haunted house comes to her, asking her to investigate the sightings.

She goes to Yates' lab at at a rather shady "university,"  She meets Yate's coworker. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and getting involved with their investigation of the haunted building.  They record an apparition, but the resulting video results in Gilbert being kicked out of Columbia and Yates being kicked out of her office.  The trio set i[ their own research lab, then teams up to investigate a supernatural event in the NYC subways, reported by Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones).

Eventually, the four team try to scientifically prove the existence of ghosts, while uncovering the plot of marginalize hotel employee Rowan North (Neil Casey) to bring about a world wide apocalypse.  Even when the New York City authorities, and members of Homeland Security, are convinced the threat is ended, the Ghostbusters discover North's plans have only begun and must save the world, and their dumb as a bag of rocks secretary Kevin (a hilarious Chris Hemsworth), from utter destruction.

Yeah, the ladies steal the stage from Ozzie,  
Good for you!

Okay, most everyone from the original has a cameo.  Harold Ramis shows up as a bust in the halls of Columbia University, leaving the only Rick Moranis missing (understandable, as he's given up acting, but I might have missed an homage to his character in the film).  Even the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man shows up, though not as the main villain, despite what some websites might lead you to believe.

And that's the problem with all the online hatred for this film.  It's not perfect, but it's so much better than you'd expect.  Most of that is thanks to the script, by Katie Dippold and Paul Feig.  Sure, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis share script writing credits, but Dippold and Feig take the basic idea and make it a separate movie from the original.  It's a complete reboot and it works, as the script gives the new actors room to breathe and form their own characters, rather than slavishly conforming to the stereotypes in the previous films.

Having watched the original film, and the sequel, a week before the new version was released, I can say that time hasn't treated the originals well.  Sure, the practical effects are amazing, but Venkman (Bill Murray) is a total sleaze, despite the fact that he's suppose to be the hero.  Instead, the man would have multiple restraining orders against him, including a few from Dana, and I wouldn't blame her.

Sure, this is a scientific device.
And yes, I am happy to see you.

And the dick jokes.  Oh My God, too many dick jokes.  That's not to say there is not some genital humor in the reboot, but the focus isn't on stroking up proton guns and making them hard.  It's based on overcoming political oppression and kicking ghost ass.  And that's why this movie works so well.

Sure, we get a back story from Gilbert, about how she saw a ghost when she was a young girl and no one but Yates would believe her.  But the script avoids giving any of the women a stereotypical reason for wanting to bust ghosts, and that is a big plus.  Unlike movie like Aliens and the Underworld series, which have strong female characters, their motivations come from finding a nuclear family unit of some type to make them fight the main villain.  Instead, the new Ghostbusters are attempting to prove the existence of the supernatural, before protecting the world from the End of Days.

Okay, Gilbert is hot and heavy for Kevin, but her attraction is mocked by her teammates.  But unlike the originals, who are out to make a buck (while one is looking to score with a hot cellist), these gals only want to prove they are right and keep the world safe, even if the government denies their actions.  And that is awesome in a movie with no male lead, as woman are finally invading this final domain of manliness in movies.  You know the troupe, the guy getting into the action (however reluctantly) to prove he was right about the bad guy, as seen in every 80s action movie since First Blood.

The cast is solid.  Wiig and McCarthy play characters we've seen in films like Bridesmaids, but their performances are solid, and it's nice to see McCarthy not play the heavy girl that is the butt of every joke.  Tolan is funny as well (though, to be honest, her character is the least developed of the bunch), but the real standouts are Hemsworth (the man has some comedic chops and, if you stay for the credits, can really DANCE; I'm an old Hollywood musical fan and that man has some moves!!), as well as McKinnon, who steals every scene she's in.  And when she gets the chance to gun-fu like she's in a John Woo movie, she is AMAZING!

Yeah, I have a new nerd crush.
Go ahead, judge me.
I dare you!

This was the most fun I've had watching this year's genre related summer blockbusters thus far this year.  Yes, it's not breaking any new ground, the CGI effects work for the most part (but still pale compared to the original, though I doubt any practical effects could generate the amount of ghosts and proton rays on the screen in the final act).  But again. the cast is solid, the jokes work for the most part, the film plays off the original well, and, damn it, I was grinning most of the time.  It may not be "fresh," but it's a lot of fun and much better than you might expect.

But if my review doesn't convince you to support this version of Ghostbusters, just check out the picture below.  After seeing women being marginalized in countless movies (seriously, Marvel Cinematic Universe, you need to do better with Black Widow, Sif and Scarlett Witch), young girls dressed up as Ghostbusters for the film's Hollywood premiere and, by the looks on their faces as they meet Kristen Wiig, appear to believe they can do what the women did in this film.  And I think that's the most important reason for this reboot.

If these girls don't melt your heart,
you're dead inside.

That's right, girls.  You go BUST SOME GHOSTS!

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