There’s been much debate over the new Ghostbusters movie derived from the mixed feelings about the reboot and the lacklustre trailers. But today helped to lay to rest some of those festering judgements because it’s actually a really good film.
Written and directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids), a story of friendship unfolds in a society that is about to ripped apart by paranormal terrorism in a city that has pretty much endured everything in both reality and fiction. But at the heart of the story there’s a pervasive sentimentality for human kind, the preservation of civilisation in keeping everyone safe and in order through a group of intellectually fierce women who will do anything to save their city.
The film follows scientist Erin Gilbert (Christina Wiig) who is about to receive a tenure at the prestigious Columbia University. Straight laced but slightly odd, she is a bundle of nerves whilst preparing for her new standing and trying to gratify her superiors. But one day when a gentleman appears at the university claiming to have read a book previously written by both herself and a former friend Abby (Melissa McCarthy) about the paranormal, her life is quickly turned upside down with her reputation at stake. After all it doesn’t look too promising for a scientist to have acknowledged and endorsed the existence of ghosts even if it’s something she was once passionate about.
Erin sets off to convince Abby to stop selling the books, but is surprised to see her impressive set up with another crazy scientist called Jillian (Kate Mcinnon), where the two are investigating paranormal phenomena with a range of newly developed devices. After being dragged into a haunted mansion, Erin’s taste for the spooks is reunited, but also captured on youtube. After which she is sacked from her university position. The girls go into business together and with the help of subway operative Patty (Leslie Jones) discover more ghostly occurrences happening throughout the city. All that’s needed now is a receptionist; in comes Chris Hemsworth as the ditsy but lovable Kevin.
Written by both Paul Feig and Katie Dippold, the comedy is thriving, the gags and punch lines are pretty consistent even if a little silly, but then again these ladies have all had a solid footing on the Saturday Night Live Show which is where the original writer Dan Aykroyd first founded the idea in the 80s.
It’s great to see the styles of comedy portrayed through the different characterisations, for example Jillian’s character is demented and wild with an intense sense of intellectuality. In reality actress Kate McKinnon is known for doing many impersonations, so this character almost seems woven from her own stash of characters.
The narrative itself is a story pieced together with elements of the original, although this was probably to pay homage to the first film. In this Ghostbusters, Abby and Jillian’s parapsychology department is also closed down and the outcast scientist theme is continued.
It was also refreshing to see that the characters ages had been kept the same and not necessarily replaced by younger models, but with a gender reversal at play. Making a group of female protagonists in what was an originally male-dominated story was going to be an interesting development, but Feig got it right. I still think however Hollywood needs to work more on making fierce and intelligent women aware of their sexuality. It felt like Feig was being careful in how these women were portrayed. It’s true with intelligence alone these women were sexy, but if say character Erin, who showed moments of interest in the opposite sex could’ve owned her attraction and not shied away, how sexy would that have been? What if scientist Abby with her cheeky sense of humour and knack for piecing together devices could’ve shown that science wasn’t just her life alone?
Lets take a step back in time, Peter Venkman was a womaniser, Ray had filthy dreams about ghosts and Egon allowed Janine the receptionist to flirt with him. They all had brains, weren’t too bad looking and didn’t deny the fact they had sex drives.
It would’ve added a lot more dynamism for these women to be more in touch with their feminine whilst possessing their innate intelligence. Just imagine Erin having a fantasy about a ghost doing naughty things to her and tumbling off the bed. Yes that happens, we have wet dreams too and love them.
The original Ghostbusters was one of those films that captured the essence of New York City. In fact re-watching the original film presents a nostalgia still felt today because there are parts of New York that look and feel like the movies in the 80s. It’s a shame that this wasn’t captured in the new film until the end and even then they were the common landmarks and similar shot compositions seen countless times in disaster movies of the last 10 years or more. You can’t bring back the 80s, but it would’ve been nice to have captured the spirit of the New Yorkers which still stands today. It’s a vociferous city known for its character alone and that hasn’t changed.
The key is not to take this movie to seriously, it is a comedy based in the present time. If we were to take it apart, we could easily say that with all the religious factions, paranormal organisations and famous Clairvoyants, the Ghostbusters alone probably wouldn’t have been the only ones trying to solve the ghost problem in the city. With that there would also be plenty of paranormal reality shows being commissioned (although there was reference to a reality show called the Ghost Jumpers which Abby was annoyed about) trying to get in on the action. The mayor in all likelihood would be forced to form a regulatory body to impose some broad set of rules on the emergent industry of ghost hunting. There’d be protest groups arguing the rights of spirits, waving placards and throwing buckets of ectoplasm over the busters.
A friend asked me whether it would be the same watching the new Ghostbusters movie on the small screen and I struggled to answer his question. Namely because I only ever saw the movies on VHS and television due to my age. I also found the mixture of practical and visual effects to be terrifying and more realistic than this movie. I still do.
But there are incredibly intense VFX towards the end of the current film that should be seen on the big screen to appreciate it. I still feel that there needed to be more variation in the formation of the ghosts. After a while it felt like one big colourful apparition and a multitude smoke-like transformations. But it was great to see the return of Slimer, bigger and more glutinous than ever.
This is a Ghostbusters movie, it’s hilarious in parts and silly in others but it’ll appease the lovers of the franchise and even draw in new fans. It was also great to see cameo appearances by most of the actors and piqued my curiosity about the shelved Ghostbusters 3 movie.
The Ghostbusters reboot is a success with homage, laughs and reminder of the story and its characters that we have loved for decades. If there’s to be a new movie, there should be one soon because we did wait long enough for its return.
Ghostbusters is out now so slime it whilst you can.