Ghostbusters (2016) Review

For the few months, a lot of ire and hatred has been blasted in one direction, namely towards the new Ghostbusters reboot. It really is insane how much hatred the movie has gotten, especially since it has yet to be released. The trailer for the movie has become one of the most, if not the most, hated movie trailer on YouTube of all time. There are even top YouTube personalities like James Rolfe (Cinemassacre, AVGN) who have vowed to not review this movie.

I get it, I really do. The original Ghostbusters is a beloved film that is big part of many 30+ year old’s childhoods. I’m very fond of the 1984 original, even though I was born 2 years after its release. But let me set the record straight: 1) this movie is NOT a sequel, 2) it is NOT trying to be the original, and 3) if you give it a chance, you just might be as surprised as I was.

Paul Feig is quickly becoming one of my favorite comedic directors. Many people recognize him from Bridesmaids and I believe that many of viewers opinions of him stem from that movie. It was raunchy and, at times, sophomoric in its comedy, the complete opposite of the subtle smart comedy in Ghostbusters (1984), not to say there weren’t a few raunchy jokes in that one too. But Feig has been fine-tuning his craft with smarter comedy with the Heat and, most recently, Spy. One will notice that most of his movies are also of the “R” category, so for him to do a PG-13 movie was a move people couldn’t see him doing. But he makes it work.

And just as Tim Burton has Johnny Depp, Paul Feig has Melissa McCarthy. Again, another controversial pick, if your only knowledge of her is from movies like Bridesmaids, Tammy, or Identity Thief, where she plays the “funny/awkward fat girl” role. However, people who have been following her career in the past few years will see that she’s a very strong, well-rounded actress, absolutely killing in the movie Spy where she defies her big girl stereotypes and becomes the best character in the movie. Ghostbusters is no exception.

When the movie starts out, we see a tour guide (Zach Woods) giving a tour of a haunted house. He gives the guests a scare when they go past a door where a woman was kept behind for years until she died. The door has been bolted and locked shut and hasn’t been opened for years. When he packs it in for the night we, the viewers, see a mysterious blue glowing and sparking machine beside the door, underneath a small table. This is when the ghost of the woman (not yet seen) begins to attack the guide, preventing him from leaving the house and throwing him against the wall. He panics and heads into a door and runs down the stairs, only to realize that the door he took was the locked door. The stairs splinter underneath him as he tries to escape, a green light comes towards him and he screams. *cue Ghostbusters theme music*

This opening bit gave me the confidence to believe that this movie could deliver a solid Ghostbusters experience. After this scene, I got comfortable in my chair and I was a kid again, hitting me with nostalgia like it did when I watched Independence Day: Resurgence. However, unlike that movie, Ghostbusters doesn’t rely on nostalgia alone and give you a completely new experience with tidbits of nostalgia sprinkled into the mix.

The film follows Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), a physics professor up for tenure at her university. Everything comes crashing down for her when a book that she wrote with Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) about the paranormal years ago goes into circulation. Knowing that such an outlandish book could jeopardize her chances at tenure, she hunts down Abby to get her to pull the book from circulation. Abby has teamed up with Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), an engineer who invents the Proton Pack and other gadgets, to continue the study of ghosts that Yates and Gilbert started years ago. Gilbert soon changes her mind when they are called to investigate the ghost attack at the haunted house and encounter a real ghost and capture it on film, which ends up a YouTube and gets Erin fired. They eventually get a new place to set up base (above a Chinese restaurant) and hire a receptionist, Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) and get a fourth member Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), a former subway attendant who was attacked by a ghost and who is very knowledgeable in the history of many buildings and systems in New York.

I’m going to go ahead and say that this cast is amazing. All the lead ladies give an excellent performance. At no point did I feel like any of them was phoning it in. Kate McKinnon had the most fun out of all of them, I believe. She was quirky but smart, constantly improving their gadgets as the movie progressed. One of the things I feel this movie had over the original was that we saw the evolution of the Proton Pack. We saw it go from having to be wheeled in on a huge cart to being the Packs we all know and love. In the original, they just kinda had them. No real explanation as to how a bunch of parapsychologists designed it. In this one, Holtzmann is an engineer. A nice touch.

McCarthy and Wiig play their parts very well, McCarthy being the go-getter leader and Wiig being the conservative scientist. They play off each other very well. Leslie Jones’ character is more than just a no nonsense black lady in that she also has sense of city-based knowledge about her that makes her a valuable member of the team. She also acts the muscle of the team and gets the team a car, a hearse whom she borrowed from her uncle.

The last member of the team is the receptionist, Kevin who is played by Chris Hemsworth. He’s… well… he’s an idiot. Hemsworth plays a dumb blonde and I feel that he is the weakest character in the group. He has no personality outside of “stupid as a brick”. Don’t get me wrong, he’s hilarious and it is fun to see a role-reversal like this, but I feel like he could have been a bit more interesting. Can I PLEASE get a decent Hemsworth performance this year?

What this movie has working in its favor is how it is not the original movie. This is not a sequel. This is not a continuation of the story. This is not a female reskinning of the original movie. This is a brand new story and concept. The ladies are not female counterparts to the original cast. I tried to piece them together, but they just don’t fit. The ladies are their own creations. And the villain I did not completely expect. Nothing was given away in the trailer, which is exceptionally satisfying.

The original cast does make a reappearance, with the exception of Rick Moranis and the late Harold Ramis, and but not in the way you’d expect. It’s a fun little nod to the original film. Plus, if you stay til after the credits, there is one more nod, but I won’t give away any spoilers. Just go watch the movie.

This movie was a fun summer movie through and through. It does not deserve all the bile it received up to it’s release. I know that a lot of diehard fans cannot and will not like this movie… and that’s ok. This is a film for a new generation. A film that empowers girls to follow their dreams and kick ass. It shows that science and engineering is not just a boys club. In a world filled with Kim Kardashians and Paris Hiltons, this movie shows a different, not vapid path for girls to aspire to. And for that this movie receives my approval.

Final rating: 9/1o – A very enjoyable reboot of a beloved franchise. If the idea of an all-female cast upsets you, your mind will not be changed. However, if you give it a chance and keep an open mind, you’ll find a gem.

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