October 22, 2017

Bland, Bland and Bland, a Ghostbusters Movie Review

I could be talking about Olympic shenanigans, nuclear proliferation or Turkish delights but instead I’ve decided to explain why Thor drawing ghost tits is not funny. Welcome to The Last Bus To Pluto.

 

The Background

Sony is terrible at making movies. Really terrible. They tried to turn the new Spiderman series into a multi-verse like Marvel. It failed. Outside of the Jump Street and Bond franchises, none of their movies are reliably making them money. The companies’ market share has fallen for four years running and come next January it will have fallen for a fifth.

In the midst of this sweaty maelstrom of desperation, Sony has grabbed an old franchise steeped in 90’s nostalgia with a long standing fanbase. They attempted to combine the fanbase of the originals with the social justice lobby to give the movie as wide an appeal as possible but when fans of the original complained about the trailer and sexists complained about gender quota’d casting the studio and the cast tarred them with the same brush. Thus sets the backdrop to this movies release. One where the old fans feel undermined and forced out, the feminists feel discriminated against and the sexists and trolls want blood. Who wins?

Sweaty Sony

 

The Movie

Rather than act as a sequel to the original, the new Ghostbusters movie recreates them in a completely new universe. This is an understandable choice as the director seemed to feel it would make the movie more accessible for new viewers. I was disappointed that we didn’t get to experience a ‘passing on the torch’ scenario.

Pass the Torch

 

The Casting

The casting choices looked pretty hideous in the early trailer but after watching it, I felt like they held their own. Kristin Wiig is a dependable performer, who helps with storytelling, jokes and scientific info dumping. Melissa McCarthy brings more of the same but doesn’t have as much to do. It feels like a large chunk of McCarthy and Wiig’s friendship arc was left on the cutting room floor.

wiig and mccarthy

Kate McKinnon seems to have been loved by most watching the show. I personally found her ‘wacky for the sake of being wacky’ attitude a bit annoying. Leslie Jones character is surprisingly not the racial stereotype that everyone was worrying about. The trailer definitely showed her unfairly in a poor light. She has some of the movies better moments and her geographical knowledge comes in handy.

jones and mckinnon

Much has been made of Chris Hemsworth’s role as dopey receptonist Kevin with some reviewers lauding his performance.

it’s ultimately Chris Hemsworth who almost steals the entire film (Metro.co.uk)

I found it too over the top to be funny most of the time. A worse version of Rick Morannis’ character from the original. Hemsworth’s character goes full retard.

retard

I get it, he’s stupid. The funnier jokes come from Wiig over the top fascination with him. Annie Potts was much more entertaining as the receptionist in the original and she had a fraction of the screen time. Hemsworth is introduced as a web designer yet he doesn’t know how a phone works… what? That was one of many cracks in this movie universe that eventually damage the movie. More on that later.

Neil Casey plays the films villain, Rowan, a cliched nerdy bad guy who wants to bring on the apocalypse because people don’t like him. The failure of this character outlines one of this movie’s greatest issues, it’s inability to build an interesting background for anyone save the titular characters.

The motivations of the characters are also never expanded upon other than Wiig and McCarthy. Why does Pattie immediately quit her job to join the Ghostbusters? This should be expanded on but the movie starts to get weary of world building halfway through.

motivation

The cameos are awkward and embarrassing for almost everyone involved. Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson feel like they’ve been pasted into the movie rather than being organically part of the universe. Annie Potts was funny as a hotel receptionist and provided one of the scarce laughs in the movie. Bill Murray puts on his worst performance since Garfield to give some truly cringeworthy scenes.

Cameo

 

The Problems

I’d have happily welcomed a Ghostbusters Begins tale ending with the capture for their first ghost but this movie has a full apocalypse occurring. The team spend the first half of the movie pratfalling but switch into soldiers/ninjas/superheroes for the final battle. I felt my immersion in their world die as the characters started pulling off impossible shots, acrobatics and Kristin Wiig displays apparent flying capabilities.

action

Sometimes the quality of the CGI noticeably dipped. I’ve got to question if the artists involved faced a gruelling schedule after reported large amounts of reshooting.

A lot of movies have heroes battling paranormal threats using paranormal artefacts but the original Ghostbusters broke this convention with technology and a group of greedy business men being humanities saving grace. The paranormal extermination business side of things is completely lost in the new movie. We don’t get to see the Ghostbusters travelling round building their reputation and brand. We never get to see how the public reacts to the Ghostbusters outside of the TV news skits. It doesn’t feel like they are really part of their environment. Even the Avengers feel more part of their world.

The whole art of capturing a ghost is made pointless as Kate McKinnons character quickly invents an array of Ghost fighting weapons including twin pistols, a ghost chipper and a punching glove. All of these ‘kill’ the unwanted threat immediately. The proton packs are now mostly used as whips and lassos. The Ghosbusters only catch a single ghost in the entire movie which they promptly release anyway. All of these new devices will likely be useful for merchandising sales but make catching ghosts pointless in any possible sequels.

punch
Falcon Pawnch!

A single weak ghost ends up bizarrely having the same powers as Gozer, the shapeshifting God of destruction from the original movie. It’s never explained why this ghost is so damn powerful. He chooses to mind control all of his opponents in the city yet doesn’t do the same thing to the Ghostbusters because????

gozer
Bow down to the almighty Gozer

This movie is so littered with questionable character actions and little discrepancies that lends itself to nitpicking. Why is one of the ghosts a dragon? Was that a leftover effect from another movie? Why does the powerful dragon take over the body of a mannequin when it could have killed Patty as easily as it kills other characters?

The script is less than perfect with ad-libbing required to provide a lot of the movie’s better laughs. Unfortunately some of the ad-libbed jokes create further plot holes.

All of these problems build during the second half of the movie. The Ghostbusters feel like they exist in a surreal Holywood universe whilst the original was grounded in 1980’s New York.

realism

The original Ghostbusters has well-established, normalised heroes and villains with sensible equipment and powers. With all the super powered equipment and weird action set pieces the new Ghostbusters movie ends up feeling like the next in Sony’s long history of failed superhero franchises than a distinct property.

 

In Conclusion

The early character building works well thanks to a strong cast but the story and world around them crumbles as the movie limps to its ending. The jokes dry up and the storyline becomes steadily more ridiculous. By the end I was checking my watch hoping for it to finish early. I wanted this movie to be great, but it wasn’t even interestingly bad. It broke the criminal rule of movie making, “Don’t be boring” thanks to a lacklustre second half. I give Ghostbusters

3.8 / 10

So the fans of the original haven’t received the sequel they dreamed of and the property may be put on ice for many years as a result.

Feminists hoping the movie would usher in greater equality may find that the poor sales put Sony off from investing in other female driven action movies.

Sexists and trolls see a mediocre movie with decent scores from critics and can’t quite claim a victory.

Sony has to face its shareholders after another embarassing flop.

It seems that everyone lost which is a shame because I like the Ghostbusters, I like the actresses and I usually like Paul Feig’s work.

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