Ghostbusters (2016) Review

(WARNING: Contains minor spoilers)

OK. I'm going to be completely honest with you. I'm a huge Ghostbusters fan. I love the original two movies and grew up watching them. It's gotten to the point where I can pretty much quote the films as I'm watching them (and I did when introducing a friend to the films). As a kid I wanted to be a Ghostbuster. Me and my brother drew the sign on a piece of paper and hung it outside out window. That's how much I loved them as a kid and as an adult I only learned to appreciate them more thanks to the jokes that flew right over my head when I was younger. I bought the 2009 game the day it came out and played it repeatedly. I've watched the Return of the Ghostbusters fan film, I have the soundtracks, I've even have a ghost trap I bought off Etsy on the way. I've wanted a new Ghostbusters film since I was seven. I wanted Ghostbusters 3 for so long and when they announced they were finally doing it I was ecstatic! I didn't care that they were a lot older since at the time bringing back old old franchises was a trend thanks to Rocky Balboa. The film that had been in development hell was finally moving forward- and then backwards- and then forwards...and then backwards again. There were talks about the original team passing the torch on to a new generation, which I was fine with. It made sense. And then Harold Ramis died and all plans for GB3 came to a screeching halt.

Ivan Reitman and then one word popped up: reboot. This was when I became concerned. I was convinced that the film would be fine as long as Ivan Reitman was in charge as director but now it was being handed off to someone else, someone who might not understand the type of humour that made the original film and its sequel (to a certain degree) so timeless. The humour came from the film's dry wit, not from over the top gags. Horrifying images came to mind of an Adam Sandler movie featuring Kevin James, Jonah Hill and Seth Rogan as Ghostbusters while Megan Fox played the receptionist. My problem with Hollywood now is that it gets lazy with the casting. I understand the reliance on reboots, sequels, prequels and spin-offs. They make money. Those that are original ideas don't appear to do as well. Jurassic World and The Force Awakens proved just how successful sequels can be but when they announced The Force Awakens I honestly didn't think I'd end up going to see it because, as weird as it sounds, I couldn't imagine a cast that I could take seriously. I thought that I would see the cast and think how odd they looked in a Star Wars film but then they did something interesting: they hired unknown actors. Suddenly I was excited for the film. But when they announced that the reboot of Ghostbusters would be an all-female cast I was convinced that they would be lazy and hire Melissa McCarthy. I wasn't wrong.

I was worried that they would be lazy with the rest of the cast but I was actually surprised. I had expected people like Emma Stone or Sandra Bullock, who I both like as actresses but didn't really want to see in Ghostbusters. I thought maybe I was wrong about my initial reaction. Maybe it would be fine. I took a wait-and-see approach and pushed the Ghostbusters reboot to the back of my mind. I had Jurassic World, Force Awakens and MCU films to look forward to. I actually ended up forgetting that the film was happening through production until the first image of the four in full costume popped up. It looked fine. Then the first images of the Proton Pack arrived and while I was disappointed that it wasn't the classic design I had no issues with it...although I couldn't understand why there was a heart symbol on it. Odd design choice if I'm honest but it was small, hardly noticeable. Then the teaser trailer hit. Again, no issues and the remixed version of the Ghostbusters theme was enjoyable. But then the full trailer hit and I kind of just stared at my phone screen in disbelief. It felt all wrong. "That stuff went everywhere. In every crack" made me groan and Leslie Jones shouting "OH HELL NO! THE DEVIL IS A LIAR!" before slapping McCarthy's character repeatedly while proclaiming that "THE POWER OF PADDY COMPELS YOU!" had me slapping myself on the forehead. The humour was wrong. It felt like every comedy that had come out in the last few years. The internet blew up with negative comments with either sexist comments or concerns about the way the film was being presented. People rushed to the films defence, shouting about sexism and loser fanboys. The internet over the last couple of years has been nuts and it only escalated the closer we got to the film's release!

A second trailer hit and, while its as better than the first trailer, it didn't do much to change my thoughts. I felt torn. I wanted to see it out of curiosity but I was worried that I'd end up hating a film that I had technically been asking for since I was a kid. Yes, it had been Ghostbusters 3 that I had wanted specifically but still, it was a new Ghostbusters film. It wasn't exactly what I asked for but it was still a Ghostbusters film. It would be the first Ghostbusters film I would get to see in cinema! So last night I put on my Ghostbusters t-shirt that I bought from TeeFury and went to see it with my friend Shauna. She was the one convinced that it would be good, although she did admit on the way there that she really hoped it wouldn't be a case where she ended up hating it while I ended up liking it. We arrived, bought our tickets and sat down, ready for the film to begin.

We came out two hours later feeling very meh.

The film itself isn't terrible by any stretch but at the same time it's not very good. It's OK. The cast carry the film pretty well but the storyline is almost paper thin. The antagonist doesn't have much of a backstory. He's established as being "a freak" by everyone around him and he talks about how he was bullied throughout his life. That's it. That's the big bad's motivation for wanting to destroy the world using ghosts. His introduction scene was also extremely lazy. He walks up to Paddy as she's working and tells her that the world will soon be enslaved and that the labourers will be the last to be purged in a very OTT manner before walking off onto the train tracks and activating a device to call a ghost. That was the antagonist's introduction. He literally walks up to one of the main protagonists and practically announces that he's the bad guy and this is where my main problem with the film lies. There are some interesting ideas but the execution just isn't there.

He goes around planting devices to bring ghosts into the real world but his motivation is lacking any real depth. He was bullied and therefore everyone has to die. Two of the Ghostbusters were bullied too and it could have caused some interesting parallels between the two sides but they try to get a unfunny joke out of it. Kristen Wiig's character Erin is undeniably the heart of the film. She is the first character we are introduced to and she is the one given the most character development. She recounts her first encounter with a ghost and all I could think of was "wow! That is excellent!" When she was a child her mean old neighbour died and came back as a ghost. Every night for a year the ghost stood by her bed watching her. No one believed her, not even her parents, and she had to go to therapy to deal with it. I was honestly surprised at that scene. It was a sign that the film could be something really good and it explained why she was so desperate to prove that the ghosts were real. Again, it could have been the source for some excellent interactions with the antagonist and could have even helped develop him as a character but all it comes to is a joke about soup before he begins the final stages of his plan.

The finale's built up as a big moment where they have all their gadgets and take what they've learnt throughout the film to fight off an army of ghosts and it just doesn't work. It breaks the own film's rules. They're blasting the ghosts, using Proton Grenades (which were a nice addition and are awesome in the comics), Proton pistols and whatnot but they're not trapping them. They actually manage to kill the ghosts. I wouldn't mind so much since a similar idea was used in the Return of the Ghostbusters fan film but there it was explained and was accidental thanks to an experimental device. It wasn't supposed to happen but here they zap them with regular proton streams and the ghosts just turn into smoke. No explanation as to why it's happening and I get the feeling that we're not meant to care since it is the climax after all. They have a "Ghost wood chipper" that neutralises the ghost by turning them into slime, which was a neat idea, but it's only used once or twice in the big fight scene.

The film ends like the original, with the Ghostbusters fighting a big monster, this time in the shape of the famous ghost from the Ghostbusters logo. The film follows the template of the original film closely which only serves to hinder the movie. The first ghost we see feels very much like the Grey Lady from the original film. They have a scene with the mayor, the mayor has a Walter Peck-like assistant, they're kicked out of the university they work at in the beginning, they have a scene where the mayor doesn't believe that there's really a threat. What I think would have made the film better would be to take certain elements from this film and the Max Landis Ghostbusters 3 pitch (I'll post the link below) to make this into a passing-the-torch movie as originally intended with Ray being the last of the original Ghostbusters still working at the firehouse, Erin as Egon's daughter.

So in the end Ghostbusters 2016 was an OK movie. The film had problems but shows promise as a franchise now that the origin story is out of the way but sadly the humour wasn't for me, especially the joke where Abby and Holtzmann play a prank on Erin by playing what they claim is an audio recording of a ghost...only for it to be a fart "from the front" and no, I'm not making that up.

That really happened. 

Max Landis GB3 Pitch: