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Monday, August 1, 2016

REVIEW: 'Ghostbusters' 2016 ~ Ghost Girls Unite


I've got a great huge complaint with the new Ghostbusters movie, and it's absolutely nothing to do with the movie itself. Rather, I'm dismayed and disappointed that there is no way on God's green Earth for me to talk about this movie without it becoming political. Which is a damn shame when you're in the theatre to watch people blow up ghosts as an escape from the heavily political climate of 2016.

A writer friend of mine had some genuine qualms concerning the editing, and when he walked out of the theatre disappointed (both because it didn't click for him and because he very much wanted to like it), he turned to his friend and said, with genuine concern, 'Does this mean I'm a misogynist now?' And for as much back-patting as many are doing for pissing off MRA manbabies, that interaction shows me that we haven't come nearly far enough for this sort of self-congratulatory behaviour. I'll be happy when a movie starring four women in jumpsuits blasting giant guns isn't seen as a heavy-handed social statement by either camp. But I couldn't even watch a two-hour car chase without that being a thing.

So that's the sum of my sociopolitical Ghostbusters statement: the fact that I have to give a feel-good action movie a sociopolitical lead-in at all is disappointing. And while I am all about little girls seeing people like them onscreen and was very happy to see parents and daughters enjoying themselves in our theatre (as well as a boy jamming in the aisles to Elle King's 'Good Girls' during the end credits), I just wanna watch my damn ghost-blowy-uppy movie without feeling like I as a female fan have gotta be some sort of standard bearer when it comes time to talk about it.

There. That's out of the way. Let's talk about the damn movie.

First things first: this isn't a remake. I also hesitate to call it a reboot. If anything, I'd compare the two eras more to two seasons of super sentai (Power Rangers for the locals): there are elements (personality types, team structure, weapons and uniforms) that are consistent across the seasons, they're similar in feel and exist in similar universes, and they are close enough to each other plot- and style-wise that the viewers can follow and anticipate the beats. But elements within that structure are different. No season of super sentai seeks to outdo or erase its predecessor; simply to put a new spin on the classic formula. So I feel more comfortable in referring to Erin, Abby, Jillian, and Patty as the 'current team' rather than, say, replacements or recasting.

And when viewed like that — as the latest team in a proud franchise — it's great, great fun to watch.

So the current team is inadvertently started by Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) after the former, up for tenure, has to go and beg the latter to cover up their embarrassing ghost-hunting past. Instead, they find themselves on a ghost-hunting mission with Abby's new friend Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). From there, they recruit local knowledge expert Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) onto the team and hire bipedal golden retriever Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) as a secretary.

Their ghostbusting quickly takes on an arc story as we watch a walking talking Internet comment section named Rowan (Neil Casey) quietly orchestrating a ghost apocalypse under their noses. Mass hysteria ensues, and that's really all I can say without telling you too awfully much about the movie.

The rule for origin stories is the threat has to be pretty basic, and 'start the apocalypse because I was a bullied nerd who's better than everyone' is about as basic as it comes. Rowan is a cookie-cutter character, but he has to be because we have to get the Ghostbusters established first and foremost. From here on out, assuming they get other movies or spinoff media, they can get more elaborate. But for an origin story movie where our main goal is getting to know the characters and getting them settled, this works.

I will definitely agree with others who said that Kate McKinnon was given the majority of the good lines. She was a scene-stealer to a criminal degree. And I'm not complaining because I loved her. Everything about her. I don't know whether I want to be her or marry her, but she was amazing in so many ways. She didn't eclipse the rest of the cast in my eyes, though — Erin's awkward earnestness was strong in its own way, even if she didn't get a ton of zingers. And while being well aware of Patty being the only non-doctor on the team, I really enjoyed how her local knowledge was not only so vast, but so important and valued. The movie could not have progressed without any of the four leads and their specific talents, which is a good sign.

The climactic scene in New York was dizzying. I wish we were in a position to see how it would have been done with practical effects rather than CG, but I'm also well aware that we have CG for a reason. I enjoyed how they at least went about mimicking the original style. Seeing a mix of CG and practical in future would be lovely it it could be warranted. And there was a definite scene where I wanted to jump out of my seat and punch people in the face because it was so cool. You'll know it when you see it.

Also, I was surprised at just how much the role of Kevin allowed Hemsworth to stretch his acting muscles. Just trust me on this.

And the cameos? Mwah. Oh my goodness.

Was it a perfect movie? No. There are only three perfect movies: The Fisher King, Withnail & I, and Shaun of the Dead. Were there things I'd change, add, or omit? Yeah. I'm holding my final impression until the promised director's cut becomes available because I can tell some things were lost on the cutting room floor.

Was it worth my money? Yes. Was I grinning ear to ear like a little girl the same way I was when I saw the original movie? Yes. Do I want more? Yes yes yes.

As a final note... I was in the restroom afterward, and I heard a lady talking with her daughter about the movie and how much they liked it.

And the little girl said 'Mom, I really wanna see the original Ghostbusters now, too.'

And the mom sounded really excited and talked about how much fun they were going to have watching it together.

So much for ruining childhoods, I guess.