Friday, July 15, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016) - Review

Two former friends/co-authors of a book on paranormal studies (Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy) reunite when they are beckoned by strangers into investigating spiritual entities that are beginning to pop up all over New York City. They find sisters-in-arms in the form of an oddball techie (Kate McKinnon) and a MTA worker (Leslie Jones) and begin to establish themselves as the Big Apple's only known ghost-hunting force. After a year's worth of hysteria from all corners of the internet, GHOSTBUSTERS premieres to ultimately be seen for what it truly is: a fine, not great movie. The epitome of the word "meh", the film is a bitter clash of styles, as Paul Feig's improv-friendly direction collides with Sony's harsh drive to make a quick buck off of old material and bland CGI theatrics. Unfortunately for the audience, both fail in their individual endeavors. Feig snaps his amazing streak of female-led comedies here, mostly thanks to the sheer dumb decision to have the talented Wiig and McCarthy play straight for most of the film. The two barely have any chance to be funny during the entire film, as they are constantly settled with doing stale exposition dumps or flopping like dead fish when dealing with the severely undeveloped subplot of their damaged friendship. Feig himself is also at fault for the film's messy nature, from the the long ad-libbed scenes that are never humorous in the slightest to the poor editing and continuity. The biggest proof of mishandling, however, comes right at the end, when the film ends on a low "that's it?" note, only to deliver a barrage of mid-credit scenes and overlay the commendations of the cast and crew over a musical number that was clearly ripped out from the film's climax.

Sony is not off the hook for this less than stellar effort. They failed at handling the promotion of this movie but they really were at fault with the making of it. Not content with having a practically scene by scene remake of the 1984 classic, Sony's gross corporate hand left many oily fingerprints on the picture. Product placement is obnoxious and downright horrific, as our female heroes just love to operate Sony cameras and computers. The quartet also love to have Papa John's Pizza be in the center of the frame during one of their serious discussion scenes. But the one that drove me right up the wall is when McKinnon is munching on Pringles during her first encounter of a ghost and tells Wiig how utterly delicious they are. Can you imagine Bill Murray or Harold Ramis doing that with the librarian specter? I also believe that the production company, looking to gauge a lot of dough overseas, were the ones insisting on the ho-hum finale, where a sea of computer-generated human wraiths, conveniently hiding themselves behind a computer-generated fog, descend on the real-life protagonists. All of the action in this part is a complete blur and just leaves the viewer with too many unanswered questions, including how can the proton streams now be used to disintegrate phantoms and why is this taking place in a 1970's vision of Times Square?

Despite all of my anger and disappoint at the shameful behavior of the film's makers, I still found myself enjoying the completely average flick. In a world where ROBOCOP now is a bore in black and TOTAL RECALL now has a stupid train running through the center of Earth, this re-imaging of a landmark sci-fi film does little to no damage to its property because it fairly moves along and sprinkles in the occasion nugget of joy. But what really got me engaged with the film beyond the new ghost gear, mildly terrifying creatures and dark paraphernalia were three actors: McKinnon, Jones, and Chris Hemsworth. McKinnon is the only one who keeps making you smile, as she wildly contorts about and knows when to pull a funny face or talk in a funny voice. Her flamboyant take as the Egon of the group absolutely shines. Jones is also a nice revelation as the assertive and more than capable Patty. I frankly hate her work on SNL, where she often ruins skits due to her cue card reading, but her film work always is a joy, with this being her best role to date. And rounding up the rear is Hemsworth as Kevin, the group's dimwitted receptionist. Though he sadly never takes his shirt off, he scores major laughs whenever he messes up talking on the phone, has something "deep" to say, or simply giving a simple warm wink to his exasperated employers.

I may grow to dislike GHOSTBUSTERS little by little in time thanks to its head-scratching creative decisions. Hell, the movie honestly just faded quickly in my mind once I walked away from it. But I do feel that this is a movie I could sit through on a lazy Sunday down the line and be happy to see a modern picture where more than one main female character is a part-time ass kicker. If busting makes you feel good and you're freely willing to give it a fair shot, a matinee screening or a rental could be worth it.


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