Ghostbusters (2016)

The Context:

It’s nigh impossible to report solely on the quality of the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, because the film’s instant dismissal and demonisation has exposed the ugliness and toxicity of entitled fandom in ways I haven’t experienced before.

For starters, I’d be lying if I said I’m not one of the first to express my displeasure about Hollywood’s lack of originality and I too lament the insistent churning of remakes and reboots. Texts are no longer sacred, this we know. If it once held a cinematic pulse, you can be almost certain that it’ll be revived for a new generation at some point.

The original 1984 Ghostbusters is an iconic and highly revered pop culture entry that has had an enormous impact on boys and girls. I understand, to a degree, people’s impassioned trepidation towards any form of updating it. But the degree of hatred that has plagued this production since it was first announced has little to do with modernising the text.

Let’s look at another 2016 reboot that should be garnering equal amounts of disdain: the unnecessary remake of the William Wyler classic, Ben-Hur. If you’re truly angered by Hollywood’s unoriginality, surely you should be enraged more so by the existence of an updated Ben-Hur. Comparing both films, it’s Ben-Hur not Ghostbusters that has been preserved by the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for its cultural, historical and aesthetic significance and named one of the Top 100 American Films of All-Time.

So why then has the trailer for Ghostbusters set a record for most disliked video in YouTube’s decade long history and Ben-Hur hasn’t?

Because an alarming amount of threatened and very vocal men still cannot fathom a world where women should be considered equal. And as a male and expectant father, I am deeply saddened by the state of the world that I thought was changing.

There is no elephant in the room. This is the room. It’s 2016 and we must face the fact that we still live in a wickedly sexist society and progression and equality is still an illusion.

The Review:

It feels so good to report that writer/director Paul Feig’s retooling of the Ghostbusters franchise is in no way, the abysmal train-wreck that irate fanboys had forecast it to be. But if they think they’re angry now, just wait until some of them break their ridiculous boycott and actually watch the thing. Feig and his co-screenwriter Katie Dippold are equally as p’d off, and they’ve clearly had enough of the rampant misogyny masked as fandom that they’ve had to endure.

Perhaps, if the internet reaction was somewhat reasonable and balanced, the film might have been a different beast, but instead it’s been mutated into what can only be described as a cinematic middle finger aimed squarely at the trolls who are attacking and rating the movie weeks before they’ve even seen it.

The gender politics and satire are ramped up to 11 in Feig/Dippold’s Ghostbusters universe, where the women demand to be taken seriously and every single male character is reduced to buffoon, bully or entitled geek.

From a story perspective, the film follows much of the narrative beats of the original and it’s consistent intertextual referencing ranges from inspired to derivative. Feig, who has a penchant for working with talented female ensembles, makes the film a fun and lively time at the cinema. His casting is perfect and the film is at its best when his all-female awesome foursome are given the space to play off one another and chow down on Chinese food.

The charm, chemistry and comedic energy between Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and an against-type Chris Hemsworth, are all well worth the price of avoiding a boycott. Surprisingly, its McKinnon who comes out as this team’s MVP. With only a fraction of the dialogue handed out to her co-stars, her outrageous physical comedy and oddball facial expressions dominate every scene and the film benefits greatly by giving her the freedom to go for it. She’s magnetic.

The film is not perfect and it’s obvious that the outside forces have had a detrimental effect on the final product. One may wonder at just how many variations of this film exist on the cutting room floor and on the writer’s laptops, as the creative team rewrote, revised and improvised moments to combat the haters. The edit and script definitely have some notable errors in consistency and some of their ideas and jokes land a little flat and awkward at times.

I’m left to wonder if an unrestrained R-rated cut exists somewhere on an un-hacked Sony hard drive. Seeing this cast and creative team unleashed would be something to behold. Let’s get our hands on that version of the film.

The visual effects, particularly when showcasing the ghosts and ghouls, are both old-school and impressive, although the colourful action finale does detract from the golden cast to the extent where we can barely see them through all the flying pixels. Feig is still obviously learning how to add action direction to his impressive comedy skills.

 “Ain’t no bitches going to bust no ghost.”

Toward the film’s finale, the lovely ladies take down an oversized ghoul by proton streaming him square between his legs. There’s no subtly about it. Not only did they bust a ghost, they made a statement doing so.

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