There has been a lot of nonsense written and vocalised about the latest Ghostbusters film from its very inception. While there has been talk of another sequel for years, it always seemed like Bill Murray’s reluctance held back progress. However when the rumours resurfaced a couple of years ago, they were once again met with cautious optimism.
Sadly much of this optimism was undermined when they announced not a sequel but yet another Hollywood reboot of a much beloved franchise. This was not because of the bizarre incredulity that the makers had the temerity of casting women in the film, but more a general fatigue at the apparent lack of originality in developing new ideas and a reversion to the need to reboot and remake well liked films from the past, often resulting in a much less enjoyable film.
But the inclusion of Kristen Wiig and Paul Feig amongst others tempered my concerns and I was cautiously hopeful that the new Ghostbusters could live up to the original.
Unsurprisingly, this film revolves around a group of four people who go out and bust some ghosts. Here’s the official plot synopsis and trailer:
Ghostbusters makes its long-awaited return, rebooted with a cast of hilarious new characters. Thirty years after the beloved original franchise took the world by storm, director Paul Feig brings his fresh take to the supernatural comedy, joined by some of the funniest actors working today – Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth. This summer, they’re here to save the world!
Unfortunately, Ghostbusters…the reboot…is not a good film. It isn’t horrendously bad, but it isn’t very good – and for all those misogynists out there, it is absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they recast the leads as women.
Both Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy both do pretty good jobs as the two main protagonists – the Ray and Egon of the film. McCarthy has reigned in some of the more verbose, annoying elements that have plagued some of her other films. While Wiig, for the most part, is her usual excellent self there is at least one major issue with her portrayal that we will come onto later.
Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones unfortunately have slightly underdeveloped roles. McKinnon is largely wasted as a weird, socially awkward yet somehow also extroverted tech genius/nerd with an uncanny ability to magic new technology and equipment out of thin air. Jones is left to play the street-wise black woman, although they do at least make a pretence at developing her character by throwing in the fact that she knows a bit about New York’s history. It’s not only a massive waste of her talents, but also something that no doubt would have been highlighted as another example of Hollywood racism, were it not for the misogyny furore surrounding the film. Similar to the inclusion of Winston in the original except, at least in that scenario, the problem wasn’t that they didn’t bother to write his character but more that the studio wanted the script rewritten to maximise Murray.
They have all given quality displays in the past with both Wiig and McCarthy leading good comedies, so it is somewhat disappointing that they are not used as well in this film and the latter twodo not have more developed characters.
Chris Hemsworth plays his role of the utterly stupid eye-candy well, but his character feels totally out of place in a modern comedy. There are a couple of mildly amusing moments when we first meet him, but otherwise his character is entirely one dimensional and perhaps more disappointing (and somewhat ironic given the furore over this film) his role is fundamentally sexist. His sole purpose in the film seems to be something for a couple of the quartet, and particularly Wiig, to ogle.
While the reverse has certainly been depicted in many a film, I cannot help but think that if the genders were reversed, there would quite rightly be uproar about the role and its portrayal in the film. It is such a shame as it brings down the entire tone of the film to something more basic than the cast and the audience deserve.
There are also plenty of cameos with most of the main actors from original film appearing in the reboot. It was nice to see Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver but I was rather surprised and more than a little disappointed that Bill Murray actually appears in this, a sub-par reboot, mostly because, if rumours are to be believed, the main reason why another sequel was never made was his refusal to be in it.
But casting and character portrayal aside, the biggest issue with the film is that it is just a bit boring. Having started positively with a well-paced plot and decent character development, Ghostbusters rapidly descends into a somewhat turgid, plodding film. The jokes come thick and fast but increasingly become more miss than hit as the film struggles to progress towards something of interest. There is far too much set-up and not enough action and the film could certainly have used a good editor to cut out 20-30 minutes from the middle.
It rapidly slips into a quagmire of exposition and unnecessary sciencing which felt more forced and less fluid than the original. The inclusion of the apparent cover-up by the mayor’s office also seemed like a little bit of a late addition in an attempt to give Wiig’s character a bit more depth. This failed spectacularly, in part because it comes after her annoying fawning over Hemsworth’s inept secretary that seemed totally out of place with the character that had been portrayed well up to that point.
On a plus note the CGI in the film is pretty decent, with most of the ghosts and effects executed well. The props are also a positive as, while they inexplicably appear out of nowhere, they do at least seem robust and provide a suitable homage to the original while also forging a new path.
All-in-all while Ghostbusters isn’t terrible, it is a disappointment. Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon and Jones are all good but their characters and perhaps more importantly the character development of the latter two is sadly missing. The effects are good and there are certainly some welcomed references to the original but thankfully the film doesn’t feel too beholden to the 1980s films, instead trying to find its own path. Sadly, it struggled under the weight of too many unfunny and unnecessary jokes as well as a general lack of solid plot development. There is a somewhat jarring overt sexism and an undercurrent of racism that did not seem to sit well with the film, and frankly has no place in this or any other similar film. It lacks enough substance to hold interest throughout and could easily do with having a good half hour removed without actually losing anything from the end film.