Mac Review: Ghostbusters 2016

To understand my thoughts on Ghostbusters 2016, you need to understand my thoughts on the current climate of remaking classic movies in general.

At first, I didn’t join the chorus of critics sayin’ ‘another remake’. I get that they’re pointless / unnecessary, but technically all movies are unnecessary. I’ve always wished, though – and I stand by this – that if you’re going to remake a movie, remake one that didn’t get it right the first time. Remake Plan 9 From Outer Space, not Psycho. Also, calling them all reboots, or some other fancy name, doesn’t impress me.

I watched the Psycho remake; I bought A Nightmare On Elm Street on DVD. I bought Peter Jackson’s King Kong, but sold it later.

After a while, the remakes started to pile up. There were so many, and they all looked generic and uninteresting. It got to the stage where I mentioned an 80s movie to a friend; he said ‘I’m surprised they’re not remaking that one’. I answered: ‘I watched a trailer for the remake this morning.’ (The movie was Robocop, for the record.)

Can you tell them apart?
All these posters have the same design aesthetic, and so do most of the movies.

I’ve never seen the new versions of Robocop, Total Recall, Poltergeist… They just look so bland that they simply haven’t grabbed my interest – like they’re trying to do versions of the movies with all the fun, colour, imagination and originality sucked out of them.

So when the trailer for Ghostbusters dropped, it surprised me. It actually looked fun. It even looked like it had its own personality.

This poster isn't the same as those other posters. That shouldn't be an acheivement.
What?!?

So, one day, I did go to the movies to watch it. At the time, I was so drowsy I expected to fall asleep during the movie; and yet, it kept me awake, which was an achievement in and of itself that day, and proves it was definitely entertaining.

It started with a few jokes that I laughed at (but nobody else in the audience did). It put me in a good frame of mind.

Then we met the characters. I found them all likeable and fun; Holtzmann is my kind of crazy.

When the actual story kicked off, the jokes were less fun for me. At one point, everyone else in the audience laughed at a joke that I didn’t – it was funny, but I’d seen it a dozen times in the trailers. Maybe they hadn’t seen them?

The movie continued in that vein; four likeable, fun characters in a bland film. Never dull, but never inspiring either.

The ghosts in it looked amazing, though. I loved their first ghost – she was just awesome, and easily my favourite – but the rest, with modern CGI, were still amazing.

Be afraid of this ghost.
The first ghost of the movie, and she looks amazing.

The remix of the Ray Parker, Jr. theme is as bad as you’ve heard, but that’s the only really bad thing about it.

Overall, the movie is just four characters in search of a film: a solid ‘meh’. Entertaining enough, definitely worth a watch, but in the end forgettable.

6 Comments

  1. I liked it more than you did; I definitely love Holzman, though I’m glad I don’t know her in the flesh (I can just see her talking me into helping rob graves for her reanimation of dead flesh experiments).
    “At one point, everyone else in the audience laughed at a joke that I didn’t – it was funny, but I’d seen it a dozen times in the trailers. Maybe they hadn’t seen them?”
    I had the reverse experience watching Catch Me If You Can. I was one of two people who laughed when DiCaprio tells Tom Hanks that he’s “Special Agent Barry Allen.”

    1. Le Messor

      I can just see her talking me into helping rob graves for her reanimation of dead flesh experiments
      … and the down side is…?

      Catch Me If You Can. I was one of two people who laughed when DiCaprio tells Tom Hanks that he’s “Special Agent Barry Allen.”
      I don’t remember laughing, but I definitely noticed – especially when they went on to name Jay Garrick and Wally West (iirc).

  2. Pol Rua

    “The movie continued in that vein; four likeable, fun characters in a bland film. Never dull, but never inspiring either.”

    Nailed it.
    I really liked all the characters, but the ‘plot’ just seemed like a kid with too much sugar in his system smashing his action figures together.
    The opening scene is really strong, and builds up a great sense of menace, but rather than make the initial ghost the villain of the story (after giving us all that backstory and exposition), it’s like the script can’t wait to get outta there!
    And the whole film is like that. When Bill Murray’s character is introduced, it feels like he’s going to be this version’s ‘Walter Peck’, but it’s almost like once they namechecked Murray, they couldn’t wait to be rid of his, so he’s hurled out the window to his death (which has no further repercussions on the story), and we’re away to the next bit.

    My favourite scene is the one where we get the backstory of the two leads and the ‘Ghost Girl’ story, because the film is actually forced to slow down and deal with a plot point for once.
    It’s a damn shame the film didn’t do well, because I’d love to see these characters return in a film with an ACTUAL script.

  3. Le Messor

    Nailed it.

    Thanks, but I think you nailed it here:

    I really liked all the characters, but the ‘plot’ just seemed like a kid with too much sugar in his system smashing his action figures together.

    And, yeah, these characters with an actual script… that could be good.

  4. I think the plethora (and I mean that in the strict definition of the word; not just too many, but having so many extra that it is actually a burdensome problem) of remakes is indicative of a larger problem, which is how movies are, by and large, made and financed.

    60 years ago, a producer could “go with his gut” and make a movie he wanted to make because he thought it was a good idea. Today, that producer has to write a “business justification document” explaining, with charts and graphs and statistics, exactly why this movie will be successful, how much it’s expected to earn, and who the primary customers are expected to be. This document will then be reviewed by the sociopathic drones on Wall Street, who will then package the proposal as an investment opportunity, possibly bundled with other offerings, under a name like “Silver Screen Partners MCMCXXVII” to be peddled to investors who don’t know a damn thing about movies or art.

    This commodity is utterly dependent on a number of easily-digested bullet-points: “the star is Actor X, whose Q Rating is Y”; “the director previously made Movies A, B, and C, which grossed $X”; and so on, detailing exactly why this movie is “bankable.”

    The easiest way to make a bankable movie is to find a “safe” property, in other words something that has already been successful in the marketplace; adapting a comic book, novel, play or TV show; a prequel, sequel, remake, reinvention, reinterpretation. Original stories are scary and dangerous and unsuitable for anything but little low-budget indie films. Even then, you have to have a bankable director or cast if you want to get past the festival circuit.

    Movies that are apolitical (especially as involves certain thin-skinned governments whose people have a lot of money to invest), vaguely populist in a non-inflammatory manner, and that translate well to non-english-language (no witty banter or wordplay, lots of non-verbal action, nothing more complicated than a fire or fistfight), and are suitably modest in their romantic exploits (or can be edited for more repressive markets), are all major factors in getting a movie made.

    I’m sometimes shocked when something more robust than pudding ever makes it to the screen. ‘Ghostbusters 2016’ is a textbook example of filmmaking for the investors.

    1. Le Messor

      Maybe we need another American Zootrope? A group of dedicated filmmakers, trying to do their best with or without the Studio System.

      All this reminds me of the Nostalgia Critic’s Not Based On Anything! parody trailer at the beginning of one of his videos.

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