The online reaction to the unveiling of the new Ghostbusters film was pretty harsh and it set a record. The most disliked movie trailer ever posted to Youtube. That’s some backlash there. What was the reason? The original is a classic and shouldn’t be messed with? It was too colorful and kid friendly? The trailer was just terrible? At the heart of it though, the majority of the uproar was simple: the new Ghostbusters film recast the four leads as women. This is a pretty dumb reason to get all worked up and hate on a film for that sole reason. It happened. Live with it.
Is the new Ghostbusters good? Bad? Average? A bit of everything I suppose:
- Kate McKinnon
- Kristen Wiig
- Chris Hemsworth
- The Cameos
- Leslie Jones
- The effects work
- The script
- Melissa McCarthy
- The villain
- The new theme song
The new Ghostbusters is basically a reimagining of the core concepts of the 1984 original, telling the story of four down on their luck paranormal investigators who come together in New York City to form a team that eventually saves the city and probably the world from a supernatural smackdown.
Kristen Wiig plays the straight-faced and klutzy professor Erin Gilbert, who once researched the paranormal but now maintains an academic persona to keep up her credibility within the university faculty. That persona quickly gets dropped when a potential client tracks her down for help with a haunting, thanks to an old book she wrote that is still being promoted against her knowledge by her old high school pal, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy).
As such, Abby is still toiling away at a third-rate New York college researching paranormal activity with a new partner in tow, the geeky tech-head Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). As Holtzmann, McKinnon is without doubt the best thing about this movie. She is funny, quirky and sexy as the gadget-obsessed nerd and owns every scene she’s in. This movie needs more of her!
Melissa McCarthy on the other hand is the worst aspect of the movie. Unfunny and just plain annoying. How she still gets work is beyond me. Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), a former transit worker and all around loudmouth, fills out the quartet with a role that’s not as bad as McCarthy’s but is close.
After Erin seeks out Abby she is drawn into helping her investigate the possibility of an actual paranormal event. Much excitement ensues! When that encounter ends in a showdown with a floating specter, which seems like a nod to the electric chair ghosts from Ghostbusters II, the group is so happy with the results that they post the video to Youtube where it gets ridiculed and turns their ambitions into a national joke. Cue sly joke from Wiig about the Youtube reactions..
We are then introduced to the villain of the piece, a mysterious bug-eyed loner intent on unleashing the undead across the city. Yes, the villain is just an average guy. No Gozer or Zuul type big bad here. Why is he doing this? Just because he’s lonely and gets bullied. Sigh. The character just comes across as no threat whatsoever. It is easily the poorest part of the movie. He does change bodies later on though, which brings us to Chris Hemsworth.
He plays the Ghostbusters ridiculously idiotic secretary Kevin. He’s a cheerfully clueless assistant who covers his eyes when hearing loud noises, has issues with phones and always seems to find food in the most hectic of circumstances. You guessed it. He’s the dumb blonde Hollywood stereotype. Much laughs.
From here on out they battle against the Mayor (Andy Garcia) who at every turn is trying to smear them and also track down the person responsible for the ghostly happenings. Once they track him down, things take a turn for the worse as the guy kills himself and returns as a ghost which possesses poor Kevin. This results in a CGI heavy showdown in Times Square which isn’t as great as it should be. This is Fieg’s first foray into an effects laden film and it shows. There is something just a little off about it. In better hands it could have been a stunner. Also the quality of the CG is not that great either. It’s all glow and no show.
The cameos in the film are spot on with Murray and Weaver, along with other first film favorites such as Dan Aykroyd, Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson all making appearances. Funnily, Murray who wanted no part in a third film gets the most screen-time as a paranormal debunker. The late Harold Ramis also gets a touching, blink and you miss it tribute.
The movie doesn’t deserve the mean-spirited reception it received before anyone had seen it. Go watch it. It’s not great but it certainly isn’t terrible. Does it deserve a sequel? If only to see more of Kate McKinnon. Or maybe she can get her own spin-off. That would be amazing..