We can talk about the online trolls, the backlash to the announcement two years ago, the venomous hate that seeped out of Twitter and cascaded around everything surrounding this release. We can mention how the world is unfair and that sexism is still rife and commonplace. Or we could just try to disregard all of this as people being small minded and able to hide behind a keyboard. It’s really easy to be loud when no one can see who’s shouting.
Instead, lets look at Ghostbusters, the rebirth, the reboot, the 2016 version which brings Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy back together with Paul Feig, with some added talent in Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. This tough foursome take on the paranormal with little help from their bumbling receptionist Chris Hemsworth.
Wiig and McCarthy are old school friends Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, who have a shared interest in ghosts and the dead. Though their careers have gone in slightly different directions, they’re brought back together when the owner of a mueum reckons it’s haunted. After coming face to face with a ghost, the pair decide to get the team together and get to work, seeing why the paranormal are making their way to our world.
They are joined by physicist Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon), New York City knowitall Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) to round out the team, and soon employ Kevin Beckman as their receptionist. After a few forays into the wild, and their events being covered by local new networks, they realize that someone is provoking the dead to make their way to our plane, and so set out to right the wrong.
It’s not good. And it’s a pity, shutting up the trolls would have made the success that this film will enjoy all the sweeter. But the fact is that Ghostbusters 2016 is a poorly written film, with jokes shunted in the story at an off pace. The story itself seems like an after thought, almost as if those in charge were scared to truly go for it, instead would rather try to appease those who have been so vocal about a film they haven’t seen yet.
We can mention the eye rolling cameos, pointlessly made; it’s not an homage when it’s this on the nose. But the biggest issue with this reboot is the fact that it is a reboot, of a classic, one that is so fondly remembered and rerun on most terrestrial channels every December around the holidays. And so Ghostbusters will obviously always be compared to Ghostbusters.
If we can remove ourselves from this comparison, and take McCarthy and co. for their own merit, it’s tough to find some. For an out and out comedy, there were only a handful of truly funny jokes – many of which come at the expense of Hemsworth’s idiotic receptionist. Hemsworth is something of a highlight in this film, but his role does beg the question what the online outcry would be if genders were reversed, the hapless receptionist was female, failing to understand how to work the phone of her male employers.
Female led films are important, and female heroes should be on the silver screens now more than ever. And we are getting Wonder Woman next year, there’s talk of finally getting a Black Widow film, and hopefully this film will be the success required to help push more female fronted movies. It’s just a pity that this one missed the mark.
McKinnon was a nice surprise, her character and even the way she moved on screen was weird and interesting. Jones was fine, but the real disappointment came from Wiig and McCarthy, who are meant to lead this film but both have been, and can be, funnier. Andy Garcia had a great call back to another much loved film from decades past, but the villain of the piece Rowan (Neil Casey) wasn’t even close to fleshed out, his motives straight out of screen writing 101.
The effects were good at times, and the final action piece was decent, especially McKinnon’s attempt at knocking out multiple ghouls at once. But every silver lining comes with a cloud, and all the jargon throughout the film in explaining the mechanisms of their devices made for heavy listening, like that lecturer you can’t understand so just choose not to. Big words are not equal to good story telling.
If we choose to take this as 2 hours on it’s own, not a reboot, no hate 20 months before release, as just a relatively well anticipated summer blockbuster of 2016, this is simply another in what has been a pretty disappointing season. Who can we talk to about fixing this? What are you going to do? Who are you going to call?