Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Ghostbusters: Film Review

Ghostbusters: Film Review

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth
Director: Paul Feig

"I ain't afraid of no ghost" goes the rallying cry from Ray Parker Jr's iconic theme.

But based on the online furore resultant from Paul Feig's first look Ghostbusters trailer, it appears many were fearful of an all female cast taking on the mantle of Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson's characters.

So in its newest iteration, it's all about the nostalgia and the ladies when Manhattan is under siege from a phantom menace. Enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates (Wiig and McCarthy respectively) discover an increase in activity in New York - and coupled with nuclear engineer and loose cannon Jillian Holtzmann (Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon) and subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), they set out to save the day.

Thirty years on from their first appearance, the Ghostbusters are back for a new generation.

While large swathes of this film are bathed in the same kind of nostalgia that JJ Abrams executed with Star Wars: The Force Awakens (and indeed the film struggles to etch out its own identity), there's no escaping the fact this 2016 Ghostbusters is essentially the same film as 1984 Ghostbusters, but with the original group appearing in various cameos (as well as others from the series).

It's hard not to read into the furore that's surrounded the film's inception when the script throws in such meta- lines like "Ain't no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts" (from an online commenter on one of the group's uploaded videos) and a Melissa McCarthy put down about reading comments late at night, but for the most part, director Paul Feig wallows in what made the original Ghosbusters so much fun - silly goofiness in between some paranormal moments.

The team gels solidly but never spectacularly together throughout, and while McKinnon manages some zany moments, her antics have a tendency to stick out within the group.

Certainly, Wiig and McCarthy channel earnest into the ineptness of the group and their estranged friendship and Jones' street-smart Patty fits in as she brings something of value to the group. There's certainly no tokenism here and there's never any sign that all of this has been retro-fitted to an all female lead cast - and the very fact that even has to be mentioned decries the state of Hollywood in 2016. It's not a film that makes smart commentary about women in the 21st Century - nor should it. It's a film that has a simple brief and sticks to it.

Essentially, Ghostbusters 2016 is a kids' movie, a family outing for all, that may have benefited from a burst of extra humour (a lot of the laughs come from Chris Hemsworth playing dumb as receptionist man-candy Kevin) over its 2 hour run time.

There are certainly moments towards the end that feel flat and dialogue that chugs rather than flies, but it's more a script issue than an ensemble problem. It culminates in a Godzilla CGI Spooktacular/ Avengers portal mash-up that may lack some stakes and a series of cameos that start to stand out, but it certainly never lacks any reverence for its source material or a reason for being.

Much maligned it may be, and while it's a case of setting expectations to a lower end of the spectrum, there's nothing offensive about this reboot. Many may be afraid of this, but to be frank, the 2016 version of Ghostbusters is silly, disposable fun in a world that just takes itself too seriously sometimes. Maybe if they get the sequel that's hinted at in a post-credits scene, there's work to be done, but for now, this reboot is fine.

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