Before I saw Ghostbusters (2016), I had heard many different opinions about it. This ranged from vitriolic criticism attacking it as the worse movie ever made and an insult to the original films, to reviews praising the acting and the chemistry between the leads while suggesting that the plot and script was not the best. After seeing it, I definitely agree more with the latter, although I didn’t think the script and plot were particularly flawed.
I have to confess something: I only watched the original movie, and its sequel, earlier this year. But I think that seeing it so late, and close to seeing this reboot, is one of the reasons that I can judge it more dispassionately; the originals not having a place in my heart as beloved childhood classics. I’m not saying that long-time fans are necessarily incapable of being objective or positive about the new movie, but it’s always the case that when we have such a strong emotional connection to something we forgive its faults more easily. That being said, I do think that the original has something special about it that can’t be replicated in 2016, but I’ll get to that later.
I loved this movie for many reasons, the primary one being the incredible chemistry between the four lead women which made their on screen friendship seem so convincing and engaging. I particularly appreciated the fact that the four leads were all women, something rarely seen in action and superhero genres, and that their relationship and banter lacked the overtly masculine edge seen in other ensemble movies, like the Avengers for instance. Rather, the way they spoke to each felt more relatable and closer to my own friendship group; they mocked each other but in a loving way, the appreciation of terrible puns, the spontaneous silly accents and dancing, and above all they were supportive of each other and had each other’s backs. McCarthy, Wiig, Jones and McKinnon are all hilarious, as is Chris Hemsworth, and made the movie a joy to watch. Speaking of Hemsworth, the gender flip on the character of the ‘dumb but pretty’ secretary was funny, and yet done without malice as he was so overtly oblivious to everything, and it was intriguing to see the trope of the male main characters being protective of their secretary/female friend/girlfriend translated into opposite genders.
Coming on to why I felt it didn’t quite capture the tone of the original, which is not necessarily a bad thing, I feel like this isn’t a problem limited just to Ghostbusters but all reboots of old movies and shows from the 20th century. Nowadays, all films appear too highly polished in all senses of the word; the definition is crisper as technology has improved, the acting is generally more uniform, the sets look more perfect and less realistic as well as more brightly coloured, and the plot generally follows a more conventional pattern. The original Ghostbusters has a genuinely unpredictable and madcap feel to it, everything seems all jumbled up and slapdash enhanced by the slightly blurry image and colour palette, and it’s all new and exciting. In this movie, some of the cameo bits and references felt a bit on the nose and formulaic in methodically building up the familiar world, though there was definitely a touch of winking irony in some of these, like the logo just happening to be the creation of a vandal in a subway station. Several of these were done in a funny and unexpected way, like the fake- out with the fire station, but others felt a bit too by rote.
Some more positives about this movie: the fight scenes were (there is no other word) badass, particularly the scene towards the end with Holtzmann and the ghosts were appropriately scary and gross, especially the first one. However, the highlight of this movie was definitely the cast who, to be honest, I could have watched for hours, even if all they did was sit around a table eating Chinese takeaway.