By Brad Haynes
★★ out of ★★★★
It’s easily the most eagerly anticipated, as well as the most prematurely bashed, film of the summer. We’re talking the brand new Ghostbusters which sports an all-female assemblage of predators of the paranormal. And these gals never once have to worry about crossing streams.
Frankly, there’s quite a bit of good to be said about the new film, and quite a bit of bad as well. It’s truly a mixed bag of a remake, reboot, or however you would like to label the film, which utilizes the familiar premise of the original 1984 Ghostbusters while bringing on brand new characters and brand new ghosts to bust.
We’re skipping the regular review style this week and going straight for The Good, The Bad, and Final Word. It’s safe to say that there is a lot to like about the brand new Ghostbusters, but a lot of disappointment to be had as well.
1) Old-time Blockbuster Feel: Looking for the feel of a 1980s summertime blockbuster? The film, which feels in many ways like a big old nostalgic nod to the original, definitely has that blockbuster feel of movies from days gone by. The first time you hear the eerie first strains of the title song (which either was, or wasn’t, a rip off of a Huey Lewis tune) you’ll be regressing about 30 years.
2) Kate McKinnon: She’s had plenty of time to hone her craft on Saturday Night Live over the years playing everyone from Justin Bieber to Hillary Clinton. Now she’s breaking out on film big time as eccentric scientist Jillian Holtzmann. When she’s on the screen it’s difficult to take your eyes off her.
3) The Opening Scene: The original film began in a haunted library with a spooked librarian. The new Ghostbusters starts out in a haunted mansion where a tour guide played by the hilarious Zach Woods quickly discovers the ghost he’s talking about really exists. Funny, scary, and a logical successor to the original scene. Be prepared to jump!
4) Those Cameos By The Original Cast: Not gonna tell you exactly who or what they play, or how they make their appearances, but Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson (along with a replica of Harold Ramis, who passed away just two years ago) all make satisfying cameos. The best? Probably the oft-overlooked Hudson. See if you can figure out how he will appear as the film progresses.
5) An Amazing Supporting Cast: Woods (mentioned earlier), along with Ed Begley Jr., Karan Soni, Steve Higgins, Nate Corddry, and SNL‘s Cecily Strong all make the best of very small roles.
1) A Waste Of Melissa McCarthy & Kristen Wiig: Both very, very funny women and both given little funny to do in the film. In the original Ghostbusters the laughs seemed to be pretty evenly distributed. Not here. The majority of the truly funny moments belong to McKinnon and Jones.
2) Andy Garcia Is No William Atherton: Atherton was deliciously devilish as EPA agent Walter Peck who sets out to stop the Ghostbusters at all cost in the original. Garcia, as NYC’s Mayor Bradley, has basically the same function in this film, but is instantly forgettable.
3) Those Cameos By The Original Ghosts: Sure, it’s fun to see Slimer, and even the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man . . . at first. But there’s really NO reason for them to be there at all.
4) The Ghostly Showdown: The original film’s battle royale finale was ridiculously awesome. This one? Simply ridiculous. Too many ghosts, too much slime, entirely too much confusion. And the effects? Nothing seemingly greatly advanced over the 1984 film.
5) A Lame Villain: Bullied janitor Rowan North (Neil Casey) is apparently organizing the ghostly culmination which creates the film’s climax, but why? Never really explained, never really makes any sense, and Rowan North ends up going down in history as one of the lamest film villains of all time.
Final Word: If you have any interest in Ghostbusters at all, you’ll definitely want to check it out. Surprisingly, the scares seem to outshine the laughs in this estrogen-fueled sequel that’s doubtful to find repeat customers. That’s in sharp contrast with the original, that over the past 30 plus years seemed to easily require plenty of repeated viewings.
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones. Directed by Paul Fieg.
Running Time: 1 hour 56 minutes
Rated PG-13 for supernatural action and some crude humor.