Bustin’ STILL makes me feel good, says Tony.
Someone needs to be fired over this movie.
Happily for fans of the original Ghostbusters movies, and fans of movies in general, it’s the person who put together every. Single. Trailer.
Every single trailer for this movie sucked slime and turned enthusiasm into an ectoplasmic punch in the face.
The movie? Waaaay different story. The movie will have you doing the Ghostbusters dance out the door of your movie theatre, promising yourself that when you’ve been really good, you might treat yourself to one more showing.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s make one thing very clear. This is NOT the Ghostbusters you remember from the Eighties. The styles of comedy are different, and whereas in the original it was fairly straightforward to break the Ghostbusters down into ‘The Mouth’ – Venkman, ‘The Heart’ – Stanz, ‘The Brain’ – Spengler, and ‘The Realist’ – Zeddemore, this movie has women in all four main roles, and as such, you oversimplify them at your peril.
They all have brains in their different ways, with the ‘Spengler’ role split between Kristen Wiig as Erin Gilbert and Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann – the first a highly noted scientist on the very verge of tenure at Columbia when an early interest in ghosts resurfaces and sinks her career, the second a techno-genius with way more fun in her DNA than Ramis’ Spengler ever had. Seriously, she’s difficult not to watch any time she’s on the screen, she’s that much fun. For the real geeks, it’s like a mixture of Spengler and Tank Girl. There are no extra-specially Venkman ‘Mouthy’ scenes either, Bill Murray’s textbook comedy grandstanding feeling unnecessary in this iteration of the Ghostbusting legend. As such, what you end up watching feels like much more of an ensemble movie than the original, which with Murray, Ackroyd and Ramis all out front together had a sense of being ‘three comedy geniuses in search of a vehicle.’
Patty Tolan, the Zeddemore of this team, played by Leslie Jones, is also far more energised than the original – Ernie Hudson’s Winston Zeddemore was hired because he needed a job and the three original Busters were exhausted. Jones’ Patty is a much more active driver of storyline, and a much more self-actualised and equal character.
In terms of characterisation then – whisper this softly, as there are fragile fanboy egos set to bruise like ripe peaches all around the world – this Ghostbusters is probably better than the original. And I say that as someone who has the original Ghostbusters in his top five favourite movies.
What’s at least as important as the characterisation in a movie as highly emotionally charged as this remake though is the balance between references and originality. The references have to be there, partly to tie this movie into the original two without overtly placing it in any kind of chronology – there are things you expect in order to feel like you’ve watched ‘a Ghostbusters movie.’ But originality in this movie is also crucial, because of course we already have at least one extremely good Ghostbusters movie – if you’re not going to be original, you might as well be Independence Day: Resurgence.
Happily, the balance here sings like the swing of a Samurai sword. Here, you have rivers of ooze and a creepy painting, as seen in Ghostbusters II. You have cameos from all the living original Ghostbusters, though in new roles, as well as some delightful additional pop-ups. The fire house is here. Slimer’s here too, paying homage to the movies, but also to The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series. There are plenty of verbal references to elements from the original movies, and even Mr Stay-Puft makes an unconventional appearance. There’s plenty of ‘ghosts being set free, whizzing about the streets of New York and flying up to the top of a building to form a dark, ominous cloud-vortex’ action – of course there is, this is a Ghostbusters movie! And yes, you get a giant, powerful ultra-destructor ghost stomping about the place at the end, though this one stays close to the iconography of the Ghostbusters movies. It’s reference-rich, and one day, this movie will spawn a drinking game called ‘Original Ghostbusters Reference Bingo,’ and geeks everywhere will be paralytic by the end of the film. Face it – for all the bad press for the trailers and the online douchebaggery of dudes who feel like their childhood’s being raped by the idea of Ghostbusters With Uteruses, this is a movie made by people who know their Ghostbusters, and who love it as much as you do. In terms of reference-cramming, they have done well. But to balance all the references and knowing little throwaways, you have a human villain who provides a neat whodunit element, followed quickly by a howinsaneishe element. There’s a new spin on the original’s city hall scenes that accurately reflects the way the world is today. And there’s fun to be had in a metacritical way, with the Busters having to deal with ‘Bitches Ain’t Gonna Bust No Ghosts’ comments online and the general perception of dudes in their basements that the female Ghostbusters suck, and are fake-ass wannabe-busters, out to cash in and ruin a brother’s day.
Most importantly, where the original Ghostbusters anchored its plot in the idea of ‘Ancient Evil God Puts The Moves On New York,’ the new Ghostbusters movie anchors its storyline in ‘Overlooked Human Feels Oppressed, Comes To View Other Humans As Scum And Wants To Destroy Them All.’ You can argue this is the mentality of too many real human beings in our world, and as such, the plot feels better grounded in a reality than the original, for all the generally fantastical fun of ghosts and ghostbusting.
Is it a perfect movie? No, not quite – the climax of the peril is underdeveloped. Once you have your building with a vortex of ghosts, and your Gigantor destroyer of cities stomping about, destroying everything, the original Ghostbusters had the puny humans try everything they knew, and fail, and only then do the whole ‘total protonic reversal’ thing to close the gate and win the day. In the new movie, the trying of different things is done en route to the Gigantor point, making use of some smart, funny new ghostbusting tech – ever wanted to punch a ghost right in their floaty spectral face? Now you can! But what that means is that there’s little space and time between realising the destructive power of the Big Bad, realising the only way to resolve that problem, and doing it. That gives the climax of the movie a feeling of reduced impact compared to the Stay-Puft Gozerian and the closing of the giant Gate of Doom. So, set side by side, while the new movie beats the original in terms of characterisation, the impact of plotting gives the original an additional kick of grunt-worthy, high-fiving satisfaction.
That said, this Ghostbusters extends beyond the moment of ultimate peril, leading to what many will see as a softer, more sentimental ending. While the end of the original Ghostbusters had the guys exultant on their rooftop, this one deals with the aftermath, and the dissonance between official representatives and ‘the people’ they represent. Sentimental, certainly, but no worse for that.
Oh – my wife has demanded I tell you about Chris Hemsworth.
Chris Hemsworth’s in this movie, everyone. He’s an extraordinary combination of three of the original Ghostbusters’ characters – receptionist Janine, geeky, unaware Louis Tully, and potential lust-interest and key player in the resolution of the Big Badness, Dana Barrett. I’m instructed to mention he wears quite a tight white T-shirt, and if you stay long enough to watch the credits, you get to see him pull off some (apparently sadly) fully-clothed stripper dancing moves.
You absolutely have to stay through the credits.
No, further than Hemsworth’s dancing. Riiiiight to the end. Treat it like a Marvel movie, and it’ll give you a perfect final surprise, seeding a second Ghostbusters for these new paranormal investigators.
We said the original Ghostbusters was pretty much ‘three comedy geniuses in search of a vehicle.’ The new Ghostbusters is ‘four comedy geniuses working together.’ Perhaps ironically given all the hysteria about the new Ghostbusters being women, the movie works in greater harmony as an ensemble piece than the original ever did, precisely because these four particular comedy geniuses are women, accustomed to working in ensemble pieces. Even Melissa McCarthy, who has anchored many a movie by now, dials down her star power in the service of credible characterisation and a new vision of Ghostbusters for the 21st century.
This is a Ghostbusters for Ghostbusters fans, an original story with some great references to the Ghostbusters of years gone by.
The trailers were dreadful. The movie itself will sit alongside – and in some ways surpass – the Ghostbusters films of the Eighties. The legacy’s in great hands.
Just make the trailers better for Ghostbusters II!
Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly
nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who,
Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the
70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By
runs an editing house, largely as an
excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book.
With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk