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‘Ghostbusters’ 2016 Movie Review, Spoilers, and The Future of the Franchise

( [email protected] ) Jul 18, 2016 11:45 AM EDT
Ever since the new Ghostbusters film was announced, with its all-female cast, the hate for it has been terrible.  What didn't help was the trailers, and the first wasn't really funny.  The issue is that could have been another case of a reboot appearing to do nothing but a nostalgic cash-grab, but my review of the new Ghostbusters film (with spoilers) reveals that it really is something else.
The New Ghostbusters coming July 15, 2016. Getty Images

Ever since the new Ghostbusters film was announced, with its all-female cast, the hate for it has been terrible.  What didn't help was the trailers, and the first wasn't really funny.  The issue is that could have been another case of a reboot appearing to do nothing but a nostalgic cash-grab, but my review of the new Ghostbusters film (with spoilers) reveals that it really is something else. 

Is Ghostbusters of 2016 a good film?  Yes.  Is it a great film?  No.  If Ghostbusters of 2016 hadn't had its predecessors, then yes, Ghostbusters would be something else.  One of the issues with Ghostbusters is that very little as far as new ground has been explored since the original 1984 film. 

When the first film came out in the early eighties, it was during the days when Steven Spielberg's magic realism films were dominating the box office.  Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis created a film that is practically a genre in and of itself, as it is part horror, part science-fiction, and yet all comedy.  It was a work of pure originality on its premise alone, and to this day, most people see it as one of the funniest films of all time, and can quote every funny line. 

A sequel was ordered back in 1989, and Ghostbusters II brought back the original cast, but the plot was essentially the same.  It was kind of a "let's get the band back together" theme that Aykroyd explored in The Blues Brothers, another comedy that mixed genres this one of the action film and the musical.  Other than that, the film is practically a Xeroxed copy of the original.  About the only time that the Ghostbusters were put in new situations was in the animated series of The Real Ghostbusters in the late eighties.  If you are will to ignore its kid-friendly quality and its animation that hasn't stood the test of time, it's great Ghostbusters action. 

Ever since then, there was a demand for a Ghostbusters 3, but this never happened.  Then, in 2014, Harold Ramis passed away, making a reunion of the original cast impossible.  Perhaps this is what caused Sony to realize: "we can't let this franchise die". 

The thing about a reboot is that you can write a story that is supposedly better because you already have an outline.  Needless to say, Ghostbusters of 2016 follows its outline of its 1984 predecessor with the group getting together, busting their first ghost, and then having to face the big case that is the origin of all the ghosts in New York City. 

The issue is that the comedy of the original Ghostbusters is based on the humor of situation comedies of the eighties, with a lot of one-liners and what I believe is a lot of ad-lib from Bill Murray.  Paul Feig, a director who is well-known for directing a lot of recent comedies like The Office, decided to rely on deadpan humor.  There is a lot of banter that often doesn't work, and goes on for too long.

I will have to say that the 2016 Ghostbusters works when it is original.  There are several times when lines from the original are called back, and these lines of dialogue feel forced.  For example, there is a scene where a character says "who you going to call", and then, on the television, there is a television show that says "Ghost Jumpers".  This television was not heard in that scene, and there are several times where lines from the original film are echoed.

There is also this scene where a graffiti artist comes up with the logo.  This scene didn't need to be there, and it feels forced.  The original film never had a scene where the team came up with the logo, or develop their ghost-fighting tools.  They were just there, and perhaps these elements don't need "proper introduction".    

Also, there are forced cameos.  Originally, I thought that this film was going to take place in the same universe as the original Ghostbusters, and this seems like what the first trailer promised.  In the end, it is a full reboot, and it should have embraced it completely and stopped doing the fan service. 

The worst scene in the film using fan service, as it has Bill Murray as a skeptic who doesn't believe in ghosts.  The film had one of the Ghostbusters do something out of character, as she releases the ghost trap so Murray's character can see the ghost that they captured.  I mean, that is dangerous.  Now, I have no idea if Murray's character was killed in this interaction, but he fell out of a window! 

If this is the film essentially saying: "we just killed the original Ghostbusters", then they should have just ran with the new.  As it is, these new characters are done pretty well.  It would have been very easy for the actresses to just be female versions of the original four.  However, these characters, who have a lot of experience on Saturday Night Live (Melissa McCarthy has hosted a few times) are well-developed.  I think it is great that this film has strong women characters, which is rarely seen. 

The issue is when telling a story with strong female leads, it is often a weakness to make the male characters weak.  This was the case of Chris Hemsworth, who gets hired on as the receptionist.  His character is deliberately stupid, and needed a bit more development. 

I am going to have to praise this film for Kate McKinnon, who plays Jillian Holtzmann, the most scientific and technically savvy of the group.  Every time she is on screen, she steals the show, and her personality is just wonderfully unique.  She deserves every acting job she will hopefully get after this. 

In case you are worried about how Leslie Jones would do as Patty, with her portrayal as "the black Ghostbuster".  She gets introduced earlier in the film than Ernie Hudson did in the first Ghostbusters film, and Patty brings a lot more to the team then a hired hand. 

I thought I was past the point where special effects in films impressed me, but this new Ghostbusters actually dazzled me.  I highly recommend seeing it in 3-D, as the version of the film that I saw had a strange aspect ratio where the ghosts would often come out of the screen on the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. 

There is no spoiler in saying that there was going to be a scene where the ghosts attacks the Ghostbusters team en masse, and because these characters have technology that was properly introduced, they seriously kick butt.  I was totally into this film by then, and when the big bad shows up, it is essentially a Godzilla movie.  It busts out of a building, and eventually the building reforms itself.  Okay, there is a spoiler, and the end has a dramatic scene where one character saves another.  It actually works out pretty well.

I can understand why there was so much hate for this film, but it has nothing to do with Ghostbusters.  The issue is that we truly hate Hollywood for remakes, reboots, and poor sequels, but here's the thing: there is a lack of originality in film and TV.  There was a film released at the beginning of the month known as Swiss Army Man that is weird, but at least it is different.  This is the problem when I see some unnecessary reboot or sequel, I always wonder what original film that Hollywood had to decline because we just had to have something that we have seen before. 

Right now, Ghostbusters actually came in second over its opening weekend.  The first was The Secret Life of Pets, a CG film that received mixed reviews, and Ghostbusters is getting 73 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.  There is a post-credit sequence that hints at a sequel, as it mentions Zuul, a monster from the original.  I would assume that another is on the way, and I would expect to see it in another two or three years.  Not only that, I believe that this is film could have spin-offs.