So the internet went nutty for a while in the lead up to the release of the reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise when they heard that the movie would star all-female Ghostbusters. I couldn’t have cared less about that fact, I just wanted a movie that was funny. So I went to a double feature of Star Trek Beyond and Ghostbusters. Rather than attempt to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it and I do recommend seeing it in the theater so that they can make more, I’ve decided to break down the things that worked in the film and the things that I feel didn’t. I will also review it without referencing to or comparing it to the previous Ghostbusters movies.
The all-female cast.
Every one of the four members of the Ghostbusters team are comedians that I have enjoyed. Melissa McCarthy (Spy, Bridesmaids), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, The Martian), Leslie Jones (SNL, Top Five) and Kate McKinnon (SNL, Sisters) are all incredibly funny comedians and there are several moments in the film that highlight their chemistry with each other. Jones’s Patty Tolan character was really funny without falling into the trap of being stereotypical. McKinnon stole the majority of her scenes as Holtzmann. Her character was consistently funny and quirky and I looked forward to what she said or did next.
Chris Hemsworth is known to most of us as Thor from the Marvel films, but not many people know how funny he can be. His comedic roles in Vacation and his appearances on Saturday Night Live show his comedic range and casting him as the pretty, but not particularly bright receptionist is a funny twist that could have fallen flat as a stunt, but actually worked and gave some good laughs.
The Special Effects
Many people have complained about the effects in the media, but I actually enjoyed them. I liked the updated look of the ghosts in the film. Many of them looked like they were being held together by ectoplasm which justified why they would secrete it. I liked the updated look of Slimer as well.
The action sequences in the film are very well shot and the actors are able to hold their own physically. There is a really good sense of pace in these scenes as well and they don’t get bogged down in unnecessary action beats. The final action sequence seemed to tie up the story rather well, although the villains final form in the movie is laughably ridiculous.
What Didn’t Work:
The Two Main Leads
As much as I praise the chemistry and overall performances by the actors in this film, one of the few problems that I found with the performances was with Kristen Wiig’s and Melissa McCarthy’s characters of Abby Yates and Erin Gilbert. Part of the problem was that there was nothing to really differentiate the characters from each other. If you took the same actors and had them switch roles, it would have been the same performance. There wasn’t much to really differentiate them as characters and their personal conflict was not that compelling.
The beginning of the movie consisted of a scene where the history of one of the ghosts in the movie is explained. The story was compelling and made you want to see what happened when the ghost was finally revealed. Unfortunately, no other ghost in the movie is given that level of back story and therefore, none of the ghosts in the film seemed to serve any function other than to just be. They served no other purpose than to prove that ghosts exist and that they are bad, although you never really saw the bad part.
If you’ve read the previous articles on this website, you know that I am a huge fan of the Proton Pack. Unfortunately, the design of the new packs is not very impressive. Instead of really leaning into doing a brand new design that showcases the evolution of technology, the packs just seemed bland. Even the addition of adding proton guns just seemed to be a bland attempt to modernize the look. The trap seemed bulky and unwieldy and none of the equipment they used in the movie seemed like it was designed for any sort of practical function.
Almost everyone in the film other than the leads
Honestly, most of the characters were disposable. There was no development of anyone and they seemed to all serve as impediments to the four leads. The mayor, everyone who works for him, and the DHS agents all secretly know more information than both the leads and the audience know, but continue to function as a series of collective jerks who have no motivation for being jerks other than to have someone to not like.
Neil Casey (The League, Inside Amy Schumer) plays Rowan North, the villain of the film. I would like to go into detail about his plan and the motivations behind it, but I can’t. There isn’t a plan or any interesting motivation as far as I can tell. He seems to roam around the city, muttering to himself and placing devices all over the city that cause ghosts to appear. Even the reveal of why is pretty boring and pedantic. His motivation seems to be the that because he was bullied as a kid and shunned as an adult, he’s going to cause Armageddon. His overall arc is pathetic and frankly, the film would have functioned slightly better either with a villain with some presence or without this one at all.
One of the problems I had with the marketing of the film was trying to place what world this film exists in. The problem is that the writers, director and producers did little to fix that confusion. I believe that the film takes place in a world where the original Ghostbusters film didn’t exist, which is fine. I have no problem with that, but if that is the case, embrace it. This film seemed to go out of its way to be its own film and shoe-horn in cameos from the cast of the original film at the same time and it didn’t work for me. One or two cameos would have been fine, like the cabby played by Dan Akroyd or the obvious cameo by Ernie Hudson, but the producers decided to have everyone involved. I know the idea is to give fans a little call back to the original film, but it comes off as a desperate attempt to say to the viewer “Look who we have. If this person is in the film, then they are endorsing it and you should too.” It’s heavy handed and unnecessary.
There you have it. To boil it down, I didn’t hate the movie. There were generally things and sequences that I enjoyed, but I left the film not really feeling anything about it overall. If you’re interested in seeing it, go see it. Art is supposed to be subjective and no one’s opinion is more valuable than your own. This might become your favorite film and the reaction that young women and little girls have been having towards this film make it worthy of its success and should be the catalyst for a better sequel.