Friday, July 29, 2016
GHOSTBUSTERS (2016) : Be afraid of this one.
The new GHOSTBUSTERS is not funny or imaginative. You kind of need those two main ingredients for a good Ghostbusters film. The jokes falter due to over reliance on improvisation casting suspicion that there wasn't much of a script to begin with. The jumbled, poorly paced, nearly incoherent story is evidence of that. Worst yet the characters have very little on screen chemistry and provide absolutely no laughs no matter how hard they try. Being a Ghostbusters fan I wanted to love this movie but I couldn't. To put it bluntly this film insults the fans of the old generation while dumbing down the new.
As the film plays before your eyes you can't help but imagine better ways to tell a story about the Ghostbusters. It would be so easy to put out a third film in the franchise and still have the four protagonists be the new all female Ghostbusters. We wanted a sequel. What we got is remake that is suppose to reboot the franchise. Oh, goody! We get the same old story of four friends getting together to form a business about catching ghosts and at the end a big giant thing stomps through the streets of Manhattan. I guess that is the only story that can be told about the Ghostbusters in movie form. They have told this story three times now! If you stay to the end you get a mention of Zuul during a post credits scene. Oh, no! Ghostbusters is a prequel!!! What is the deal with Sony and their reboots? It takes two movies to tell one story that has already been told in a previous film. It took two new AMAZING SPIDER-MAN movies to equal the amount of narrative put to screen in the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man.
Intentionally or not GHOSTBUSTERS (2016) is subversive with its insults toward fans of the original films. The main bad guy, Rowan, is a nerd not too unlike the average male Ghostbusters fan. He is full of hate and decides to destroy mankind by turning himself into a very large version of the ghost in the Ghostbusters logo. The sight of four female Ghostbusters shooting a Ghostbusters logo in the balls is all you need to see to understand how director Fieg feels about this franchise and its male fans. Okay, that is probably not true but I couldn't help but get that feeling.
I want to call the new film Bizzaro-GHOSTBUSTERS. This is a movie that seemingly comes from an alternate dimension that is complete opposite of us. We get four actresses that belong in the background filling in the title roles while the people we want to see play the Ghostbusters are reduced to nothing more than awful cameos that do nothing more than aggravate the audience and remind us of what could have been. Once again Ernie Hudson shows up at the end just so the camera can cut away from him as soon as possible giving him as little screen time as possible. He is my favorite, you jerks! Bill Murray's cameo as a skeptic and paranormal debunker comes across as a dig against all us who waited years for a true sequel. It's actually heartbreaking. He was the life of the party in the original GHOSTBUSTERS. Now he seems resentful of the whole franchise. To me Murray's appearance is a nod to Harrison Ford in THE FORCE AWAKENS having himself killed off by a ghost so he doesn't have to appear in anymore Ghostbuster films. How weird is it that a Ghostbusters film now has a body count?
The cast and the director are all wonderful talented people. It is so strange that everything in this film is so misguided. I don't understand how four funny actresses that have proven themselves in the past can be so unfunny. Part of it comes from the lazy writing. If you pay attention to what is being said in the real GHOSTBUSTERS there is a lot going on with the story. Ray and Egon are always going on about Tobin's Spirit Guide providing an incredible back story to the reason why all of these supernatural shenanigans are taking place. They are setting up the villains that eventually show up in the third act. The story is well crafted allowing several layers to be noticed and appreciated upon future viewing. Counter that with the new GHOSTBUSTERS and their mishandling of the story. We have yet another origin story in an already crowded reboot era of film. This time we have the origins of the Ghostbuster logo explained horribly. The evolution of the proton pack is shown. I guess that is neat.........(cough).......The containment unit finally makes an appearance but only at the end as if the writers forgot about it and wrote it in last minute. Where were they going to keep these paranormal apparitions once they caught them? In the original GHOSTBUSTERS that was one of the first things built! You kind of need a containment unit to start a ghost catching business.
The movie is filled with all these weird scenes of random talk that is meant to provide the hilarity. It all comes across as improved sketch comedy and not from the actual script. It kills in the worst way possible as in not funny at all. Instead of propelling the story forward we get nonsense banter about a dog named Mike Hat and some character backstory about Kristen Wiig being a nerd in high school. It is so painful to watch that you are going to wish you were an actual ghost because that means you are dead and you don't have to deal with this crap anymore. Every scene is off it's intended beat. There are no highs and lows to the plot it just is what it is. Meandering and pointless. The editing is atrocious. How did that dragon ghost end up on the shoulders of Leslie Jones anyway? Judging by what was shown in the advertisements there was a ton of footage cut out. The whole scene of soldiers dancing like Michael Jackson's THRILLER is removed and put in the end credits for some reason. Either way whether it was in the film or in the credits that scene is stupid and doesn't belong in a Ghostbusters movie.
I did like the new ghost busting equipment even though they use it to turn the film into an action comedy and make the proton packs themselves useless. The ghost grenades and vacuum are the stuff of cartoons but it works in this film. A better explanation as to why this equipment is needed would have helped improve the film and make it stand out from it's predecessor. The idea of ghosts that are too powerful and need to be deionized is an idea the story should have expounded upon. The new GHOSTBUSTERS needs more science and paranormal babble. I don't think the writers knew much about that stuff though as evidenced by EVP being explained as "Electro Voice Phenomena." It's "Electronic Voice Phenomena." I bet they fix that in the extended DVD release just like they fixed "Four scientists" to "Four friends" in the first trailer released for this film. Boy, that was a bad omen of things to come!
At the end after Rowan becomes giant ghost man and explodes out a skyscraper (Miraculously all the debris avoids crushing the soldiers frozen in Michael Jackson pose below.) the four Ghostbusters defeat him and send him back to the ghost world via a portal. Before being sucked down, Melissa McCarthy is grabbed and taken down with him. With rope around her waste Kristen Wiig heroically jumps in to save her as the skyscraper magically rebuilds itself on top of the portal. Time is of the essence! Oh, wait. No it is not. Both Wiig and McCarthy are pulled back into our world even though the skyscraper has fully reformed. Its a weird moment because the portal has closed. Our two heroes should be trapped in the ghost world. Instead they are pulled to safety through concrete and glass doors as if those obstructions weren't there at all. Shouldn't they have been pulled out before the building reassembled? Did the writers not think of that? You get a sense that the movie wasn't well thought out. I think the attitude of the producers was that it is a GHOSTBUSTERS film. It will sell itself!
Even as a remake GHOSTBUSTERS could have been good. There are modern day elements that didn't exist thirty years ago that could have been capitalized on to make this reboot stand on its own. Those people from a ghost hunting show that is referenced in the film could have been used as a secondary villain. Bill Murray's character could be more than a cameo. His comedic style would be an interesting twist for an antagonist to our new Ghostbusters team. The mentioning of Zuul at the end post credits scene seals the fate of the sequel in the new franchise. Its gonna suck. However, when they make a third movie five or six or seven years from now there will be renewed promise of better things to come because they will have to come up with new ideas. It has to be good then. I guess as a fan of the original GHOSTBUSTERS I have become accustomed to waiting long periods of time for a third film in the franchise.