2016’s Ghostbusters is not a bad film at all… nor is it memorable.
The original 1984 Ghostbusters movie, written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, was meant to be a simple standalone, sci-fi comedy. The first movie reached cult status, achieved box office success and received classic comedy recognition. The cast, primarily Saturday Night Live veterans, helped to make this goofy property a pop culture phenomenon that still amazes and entertains fans today.
It has been reported that the pair never meant to extend the “universe” into a franchise. But, in 1989, Ghostbusters II arrived in theaters. Though it was successful, it was agreeably not as good as the first movie. It lacked in originality as it was a redo of the first movie’s plot with new additions scattered here and there. Where the second film failed, it did bring the same amount of comedy with great performances from the original cast; Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson to name a few. Although many still think of the film fondly, most would agree that their fondness was less because of the quality of the film and more because of the chance to see these beloved characters on the big screen again. The added bonus of the film was the soundtrack which was pop filled with delicious 90s tracks lead by the timeless Bobby Brown single, “On Our Own”.
For most Ghostheads, I would argue that the true love of the Ghostbusters mythos lies squarely on the shoulders of the 1986 animated series. A classic of 80s-90s era anime, The Real Ghostbusters is where the ghost tales became creative, the characters were thoroughly built upon and the comedy was good enough for young adults. It is in this anime that the Ecto 1 drove like the Batmobile, the Ghostbusters equipment was cool and Slimer became a character that championed the green slime influenced products of old. In 1997, a sequel to the series arrived with Extreme Ghostbusters. This series successfully built upon the animated franchise by introducing new, younger characters of diverse backgrounds with cooler equipment to fight against the imaginative ghosts and goblins. The original series was still integral to the new with the classic crew joining every once and again to help the newer generation on episodes that referenced the older series’ story lines.
Given all this history of a franchise that was loved but not a legendary one in the first place, why was there so much backlash in regard to the 2016 Ghostbusters movie? The movie is arguably recreating what the original did by taking Saturday Night Live alums and creating an entertaining comedy about people who chase and capture ghosts. Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon all are excellent in their roles bringing their varied styles of humor to the franchise. The cast, who have all been able to revitalize SNL as whole, bring amusement and, as expected, helped to successfully make a funny movie. The ghosts look beautiful and the 3D elements are superb. The story is very similar to the original movie, but has enough elements added to the film to make it slightly stand on its own.
That being said, my disappointments are for two very different reasons.
First, when directly dealing with the product that was shown on the big screen, the comedy during the beginning of the movie is where I laughed the hardest and had a great time doing so. When the action starts to take center stage in the last quarter of the film, it is no longer unique because the sequences lack excitement. This is likely due to blockbuster movies all having the same average closing act. Let’s be honest, thanks to over saturation, we all know any action movie connected to a franchise or has blockbuster potential will always have a big epic battle where the heroes square off against an army of opposition. I’m tired of seeing that. And being that the more comical elements were seemingly lessened in favor of a more comic book like ending, it took away from what I was growing to love about the film.
My second disappointment has nothing to do with the film. It is actually with the direction they chose. I don’t understand why Paul Feig felt it necessary to reboot this franchise at all instead of making it a sequel to the original films. I bring up the animated series again as it effectively introduced new characters comprised of different genders and race while still connecting with the original classics. It really feels like a missed opportunity in regard to the current film franchise. They could have easily revitalized the original films the same way that Jurassic World or The Force Awakens did for their respective franchises.
All in all, I enjoyed the film. The backlash is unwarranted and shameful as many viewers have allowed internet trolls to destroy a movie way before the movie hit theaters. The movie is funny, amusing and fun. It is not perfect, but I don’t think this movie was meant to be. During my viewing, the children that were in the theater loved the film and I believe that is the key audience for this newer fare. Maybe when it comes to the newer Ghostbusters, it is meant to bring enjoyment to younger viewers with homages and appearances from the original cast to keep the older fans a little happier.
Is this a must see? No. The Ghostbusters is not groundbreaking and brings nothing new to the table. But if you are looking for a simple and humorous movie to see on a random night, by all means, this one should not disappoint. The 3D effects alone are worthy of the ticket.