Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016) Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig

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All that non-sexist hate justified

So it’s finally here — the reboot of the 1984 classic Ghostbusters featuring all female as the protagonists. Its marketing campaign was so bad that they had to rescue it by simply generalising criticisms as mere sexism. Well, I hated the trailers as well, but I gave the movie a chance anyway and now I can judge the film itself fairly. So is it as terrible as its trailers suggest? No, but it’s close enough for me still label this remake as crap compared to the brilliant original film. Even if I’ve never grew up a fan of the original franchise, this one would’ve still been just a typical, forgettable summer blockbuster comedy.

Similar to the original’s story, three jobless white scientists get together to investigate and exterminate paranormal activities. They eventually call themselves the Ghostbusters and recruits an African American to be part of the team. The main antagonist, however, is not a god like Gozer. Instead, it’s just a human being named Rowan North (Neil Casey), a nerd who hates the world simply because he used to be bullied a lot and plots to take revenge upon the world by summoning ghosts with devices that he somehow manage to build himself despite complaining how he couldn’t get a job he deserves. Yawning yet?

There are also quite a bit of other alterations to distinguish itself from the original but they’re mostly either only cosmetic or just lame. The characters get all kinds of cool new weapons but there’s no indication to where they get the money from besides stealing some equipment from a university at the beginning. They also have no plan on how they’re going to make a living out of capturing ghosts. The entrepreneurial aspect of the original is nonexistent in this reboot. There are corny but cool action sequences with the new weapons but these Ghostbusters only catch a single ghost before the big finale. I’ve no complaint about the CGI ’cause whose to say how ghosts and proton lasers would look like if they exist in reality. However, the film does not produce any sense of danger or thrill at all. The ladies here have no fear despite their utter inexperience and yet there’s never once a feeling that there’d be any severe consequence. And there’s nothing about crossing the streams. It seems as though they could blast themselves with the proton packs and still not get seriously hurt.

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Written by Katie Dippold (The Heat) and the director himself Paul Feig (Spy, The Heat, Bridesmaid), the humour is verbally stronger than the predictable scenarios of the scenes with uninspiring vomit and slime scenes that Sam Raimi would be proud of. A lot of talking that tries too hard to be funny and only a few moments managed to make me chuckle a bit. Some jokes are repeated one too many time, and some unfunny ones are overly dragged out, like in The Heat. It’s like a mediocre Saturday Night Live (SNL) skit featuring the SNL cast plus the host as the main characters — Kristen Wiig (The Skeleton Twins, Bridesmaid) as the awkward Dr. Erin Gilbert who cares too much about what other people think, Kate McKinnon as the weird psychopath-like Dr. Jillian Holtzman who’s obsessed with weapons, Leslie Jones as the street-smart, history expert recruit Patty Tolan, and Melissa McCarthy (Spy, The Heat) as Dr. Abby Yates, the tough leader. There’s a lot of familiar overacting and Melissa McCarthy basically doing her usual herself but not as great as she was in the Spy (2015). I couldn’t sense a real chemistry between them as the editing has way too many cuts — one line after another — it’s frustrating when you know these actresses are more than capable of doing longer takes.

The film is so unengaging and boring at parts, I find myself checking my phone a lot after the first act. There’s also a scene where it seems like they were going to do The Mask‘s dancing with the police scene but thankfully they seem to know how stupid and unoriginal it is and recycled it as the closing credits’ background. The dialogues also have quite a few pop culture references from the late Patrick Swayze to Ozzy Osborn, who made an unnecessary cameo appearance. Speaking of which, most of the original Ghostbusters‘ main cast make cameo appearances here but I can’t help but to feel that it’s disrespectful to themselves, except probably for the late Harold Ramis who appears for a split second as a statue at Columbia University, one of the many non-character nods to the original in the film which wouldn’t be enough to please the hardcore fans of the original.

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Ironically, after all that misogynistic angle that the marketing campaign played, the film itself isn’t politically perfect either. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) plays Kevin Beckman, the counterpart of the original’s Janine, with the difference being that he’s an objectified dumb blonde beef-cake who’s totally unlikable and overly unrealistically stupid. He shuts his eyes when he doesn’t want to hear something. Sure, Janine seems like just a female receptionist in the original, but she was far from anti-feminism. Then this reboot also makes the only African-American Ghostbuster a street-smart hustler who works at a subway with a scene specifically pointing out that this non-white girl is the only non-scientist in the group. All of this doesn’t feel like deliberate satires but instead, ignorantly sexist and racist. Not to mention about the protagonists’ theft, the unnecessary jokes on the Chinese, and every male character here is either an asshole, bad guy or just dumb. Instead of just an all-female recast, why didn’t they think of having a more diverse group of 2 males and 2 females comprising of 1 white, 1 black, 1 Asian and 1 native American?

In conclusion, this remake is not good or even ambitious enough to want to be better than the original, hence deemed a needless reboot. Hell, it isn’t even better than the 2009 video game which is now widely considered as an official sequel to the original Ghostbusters. Why reboot when a continuation (that could ignore The Extreme Ghostbusters) like Mad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World and Independence Day: Resurgence could’ve been done? The passing of the torch would’ve deepened the history of the universe or franchise, which would’ve been far more interesting to both new and old fans.

Post-credits scene: Yes, there’s a cheap one screaming for a sequel mentioning “Zuul”, one of the main villains from the original. It made me scream, “Nooooo! Please don’t, for fuck’s sake!”

What I would’ve named the film: “Not The Real Ghostbusters”

Malaysian censorship: The editing itself has so much cuts that I wouldn’t even notice if the local distributor did any on their own. To be fair, I doubt there’s anything to censor.

Second opinion: My girlfriend, who didn’t grow up a fan of the original Ghostbusters, finds it entertaining enough despite the poor story.

Verdict: If you’re a huge fan of the original Ghostbusters and hated The Heat, avoid this at all cost.

Rating: 2 / 5

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Ghostbusters 2016 movie poster malaysiaBased on: 1984 film titled “Ghostbusters”

Genre: Horror action comedy
Running Time: 117 minutes
Director and co-writer: Paul Feig
Co-writer: Katie Dippold
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth

Malaysia Release Date: 14 July 2016
Rated: P13
Production: (multiple)
Local Distributor: Sony Pictures Malaysia

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