Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ghostbusters Review: 2016 Reboot is Mild at Best!

There are many franchises that have helped to define the world of movies, but perhaps none may be as cherished as the likes of Ghostbusters. In 1984 director Ivan Reitman, along with writers/stars Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis, created one of the most beloved comedies of the 80's. While the film has only had two films to its name, Ghostbusters has been able to expand its fandom with the likes of television, comics and video games. The idea of a new Ghostbusters film has been talked about for many years now; and while many have hoped for the day that Ghostbusters 3 would appear on the silver screen, that day has never come. However that is not to say that the Ghostbusters would not return to the big screen as now in theaters is a reboot to series. Directed by Paul Feig, Ghostbusters takes a new spin on the series by having a female Ghostbuster team. Despite the controversy surrounding the film, there was no denying that this reboot was among one of the most anticipated films to see season; but does Ghostbusters truly answer the call for fans everywhere?

Ghostbusters centers on Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig): a scientist who has put her investigation on the supernatural behind her. However Erin gets back into her roots after she and her old friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) discover a malevolent ghost haunting a building. After this discovery, and loosing her job, Erin joins Abby on a new expedition to find and catch ghosts. Together with the engineer Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) and the MTA Worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) the four become the group known as the Ghostbusters. While learning how to catch ghosts, the four ladies discovers that someone is trying to pull the spirit world into the physical one, and it up to them to save New York.

The plot to this reboot uses the concept of an origin story; and this idea did work to the movie's favor. Seeing the Ghostbusters building themselves up in this occupation did help to give this new take on the franchise its own sense of identity. However while this move was not a bad one, I cannot say that the origin concept was truly effective when comparing it to other movies that have used the idea. The concept has been done to death and the problem in this case is that Ghostbusters' plot does nothing new with the idea. Because of this the plot could feel both generic and predictable in many places, and it rarely expanded on its own plot points such as Erin's dilemma about not being commemorated for her work. This plot was surrounded by simplicity and that was not a bad thing, but a stronger execution in this ghostly story could have made for a refreshing tale.

The cast to this film was good, but I cannot say this ensemble was flawless. When it came to the performances, everyone was effective. However the characters themselves seemed to be holding many of the actors back. When it came down to it many of these movie's characters were not that interesting. While both Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy do the best that they can, their characters were not written well as their direction seemed lost in translation. The same could be said about the other two Ghostbusters; particularly Holtzman. Holtzman had all the makings on being a great character, but her excessive direction made this Ghostbuster feel two dimensional as she was just portrayed to be crazy and nothing more. The supporting cast was not much different in this issue. Chris Hemsworth does a great job as the secretary Kevin, but his one not direction could get irritating at time (I get it: He's Dumb). Neil Casey as the antagonist Rowan was also one noted. While his direction of being a society reject was a good reflection for the girls' dilemma, the character had almost no development and his motives just felt cliched. Minors characters like Mayor Bradley (Andy Garcia) and cameos from the original cast fell under same issues: fun performances but lacking in substance. Again this cast was well performed, but even the strongest of ensembles can have issues when there is little to no  dimension in the character themselves.

Despite the issues I had with the story and characters, those problems were minimal compared to my biggest gripe: the comedy. When it came down to it, the humor of Ghostbusters was not that funny. It was not the worst that I have ever seen but the film's sense of humor fell under the issues that I see in most modern comedies: excessive punchlines and poor timing. While I found certain moments to be humorous, the fact is that I thought that this aspect was severely lacking in its execution. While the humor was underwhelming, the same thing could not be said about the film's effects. While the movie uses cg effects, it did use this visual tactic to the best of its abilities. I particularly enjoyed the ghost chasing sequences as they could be entertaining; albeit a little dry in the area of creativity. Another thing that did not work in the film's favor was the direction to continually bringing up the first film. A few moments would have been fine, but the movie's excessive need to have cameos and references not only hurt this blockbuster's reputation but its predecessor as well.

As it stands Ghostbusters is an enjoyable blockbuster, but I cannot say that I am fan of this reboot. The movie had all the potential of being a refreshing take on the series, but its excessive direction in areas like story and characters hurt its presentation. Still with the strong performances from the cast and the determination from the filmmakers, Ghostbusters was an attempt to give this franchise a new life; and although it may not fully succeeded in this area, I will not condemn this reboot for at least trying.

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