Few cinematic endeavours in recent memory have generated quite as much vitriol as that of Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot. The official trailer has an unfortunate place in the top ten most disliked videos on YouTube (not too far off Gangnam Style), garnering a slew of backwards comments, as naysayers project their disillusionment with the project prior to even seeing the damn thing. But we’ve now seen the damn thing – and can report that, while undoubtedly flawed, Ghostbusters makes for a riotously entertaining cinematic experience.
Our Non – Spoiler Video Review of Ghostbusters (2016)
If there is one thing Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is ashamed of in her past, it’s the book she co-authored with Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) on the existence of ghosts. Upon discovering that it’s been made available to purchase online, the academic confronts her former colleague who had promised to never release it, stumbling in to a well-equipped, if somewhat messy workspace, that Abby shares with the eccentric scientist Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). While Erin outlines her reasons as to why ghosts are not real, the trio are interrupted by the news that there has been a spotting in a haunted old mansion, and so they set off to the location, equipment at the ready.
What they witness simply cannot be denied; for it’s a malevolent ghost, who vomits all over Erin and then sets off into the distance. Scared, but mostly excited, they begin their paranormal investigations, finding some office space, and hiring the endearingly simple Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) as their receptionist. Subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) then contacts the newfound agency to alert them of her sightings underground, to then join the collective, and the four women become the ‘Ghostbusters’. While cynics are convinced it’s all a hoax, with New York City under threat, the future of the world as we know it lies on the shoulders of this small collective – if only people would listen.
Feig walks a thin line when vying to appease the somewhat precious cult followers of the 1984 original, while also crafting a feature that is unique of its own right, with enough appeal for those new to this particular universe – and he remains balanced in his approach. Needless to say it’s contrived in how we implement the famous “who you gonna call?” slogan, and the introduction of the logo, and music, but this was always going to be a challenge to navigate, and a guaranteed issue to derive from rebooting such a treasured piece of cinema – but Feig does a commendable job.
One of the benefits of a contemporary reboot, however, is that technology has advanced tremendously across the last four decades, and this certainly looks the part. Yet Feig is sure to maintain that almost cartoon-like approach, not crafting an antagonist that’s too aesthetically menacing, but thriving in the irreverent, playful nature of the franchise, while adding a vibrancy to the aesthetic in the process.
Many jokes do misfire however, but there’s no obligation for this film to take a scattergun approach and to be laugh a minute. It’s easy to expect this to be a full-on comedy given the wealth of comic talent assembled in the leading roles (mainly renowned for their work on Saturday Night Live) – but, and much like the original, this feature maintains a compelling narrative, while borrowing from other genres, such as action and horror, alleviating that pressure.
Feig intelligently addresses the film’s doubters and cynics too, directly, and in a rather meta way, like when the quartet are complaining about YouTube commentators off the back of their first video they posted after seeing a ghost. The fact the lead roles belong to women has been a cause for much of the negative backlash in the build up to this film’s release, and while a theme within this picture, it’s not a paramount one, nor is it a key plot device, merely adding to their underdog status. Like when they come up against an adversary in the closing stages, who remarks that girls don’t know how to shoot and destroy ghosts. Well, believe me, on this evidence they most certainly do.