GHOSTBUSTERS [Review]: Who You Gonna.. Snapchat?
If there is one film that has divided the internet, then it’s Paul Feig‘s sort-of-but-not-really-a-remake of 1984’s cult classic Ghostbusters. It’s not often a film gets political but — since this new version features an all-female team — everyone has taken a stance on whether this movie is a good idea. Like everything on the internet, there is no grey area–you either hate the film because you are sexist or love it because you are a Social Justice Warrior. Obviously, both of those are gross exaggerations, and that’s what the internet is known for.
In reality, this is just another remake in the sea of nostalgia pandering that has been going on in Hollywood in the past several years. The original Ghostbusters was lightning in a bottle (the mediocre sequel being further proof), yet here we are yet again trying to recapture that magic.
This time around we have a team of four women: Dr. Erin Gilbert (The Martian‘s Kristen Wigg), Dr. Abby Yates (The Heat‘s Melissa McCarthy), Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (Finding Dory‘s Kate McKinnon) and MTA worker Patty Tolan (Trainwreck‘s Leslie Jones). The set up of the plot is similar to the first film: characters lose their jobs/scientific research funding and have to go out on their own and start their own business studying paranormal activity.
The four characters are mixtures of character archetypes from the first film: straight (wo)man who doesn’t really want to be a part of the paranormal, naive scientist that spouts off technobabble, eccentric and weird inventor/engineer, and the urban streetwise every-(wo)man. They didn’t even attempt to give them their own personalities. None of them really have much of a backstory (though Gilbert tells a quick sad tale that is quickly brushed aside) and they never go any deeper than surface level with anything.
Chris Hemsworth (uh, Thor) plays their secretary Kevin Beckman who is handsome but incredibly stupid. I cannot adequately describe the amount of cringe that has been infused into every molecule of this character. He is dumb to the point of it being insulting. He literally trips over his own feet, doesn’t know how to answer a phone, and thinks he hears sounds with his eyes. I am not making this up. Gilbert, a freaking university professor, finds this display of idiocy so alluring that she follows him around like a lovesick puppy for the whole film. Because women just like good looking alpha males, right? Not one character in this movie feels like a real person. It’s almost like a cartoon in the way everyone’s traits have been pumped up to the maximum.
The plot is slapped together haphazardly at best and they use the whole “TV news reporter just so happens to be talking about a pertinent plot point” trope several times to move the story along. It’s unfortunate that the writing isn’t funny because these are witty women who are capable of being hilarious. Everything sounds like improv and the entire movie feels like the outtake extras reel. Whatever happened to solid comedy writing? There is also this weird meta-narrative concerning “haters” that is not-so-subtlety inserted from time to time. The film can’t decide whether to revere or lambast the original film and its fans. Cast members from the first Ghostbusters make some of the most degrading and sad sack cameos I have ever seen. Bill Murray‘s performance looked like he was being held at gunpoint off-camera.
This being a modern film, it’s chock full of mediocre CGI though some of the ghost designs look pretty cool. The effects of the proton packs change from scene to scene and it’s uncertain as to whether the ghosts are actually incorporeal or not. Sometimes they can be harmed with physical objects and other times they have no effect; there is no continuity. The third act in particular has awful green screen effects and does not look in any way, shape or form believable. The villain has no motivation for anything he does and the final showdown is absolutely ridiculous. The music score is bland and uninspired too (except for little callbacks to the retro theme).
You know what? I really wish this movie was good because we do need more strong female role-models in films. However, I am not going to give a bad movie a pass just for the presence of women; it has to be well made and well written. We, as women, shouldn’t accept anything less. From top to bottom this movie fails both as a remake and as a stand alone film.
We’d like to thank Spoiler Free Movie Sleuth for the contribution.