I ain’t afraid of no internet troll – despite my own reservations towards Paul Feig’s female-fronted Ghostbusters reboot, I took a trip to my local cinema last night to see the new spectre-filled spectacle. And you know what? Despite being perhaps the most hated film (pre-release) in the internet’s history, it’s not half bad at all.
Focussing on a female spectre squad, Ghostbusters for 2016 stars Kristen Wigg, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones as the rag-tag team of scientists, engineers and history buffs tasked with saving New York City from a paranormal catastrophe its Mayor refuses to fully acknowledge. Retaining the spirit of the original but very much its own, fresh-feeling film, it’s an excellent, timely take on what a modern Ghostbusters film can be.
The imbecilic scorn thrown at the all-female cast obviously proves itself unfounded and while it’s not perfect, it’s one of the more charming blockbusters to hit cinemas in recent times. Here are five things I loved about the new Ghostbuster sequel, and the surprising thing I really wasn’t into:
1) It Looks Amazing
It’s hard to get a feel for it from the trailers, but the new Ghostbusters film looks incredible. No, not necessarily in a “BEST CGI GHOSTS EVAA” way, or that it’s doing something dramatically innovative with its computer generated characters. But there’s a really sharp, cohesive production design pulling everything together. From the suits to the gadgets, to the new HQ and super-colourful rogues gallery of spectres, it has a cartoony vibe which, while lighter perhaps than the original films, is a palette-swapping joy to behold while still playing homage to the first two movies. Which leads us to point number 2…
2) It’s Really Kid-Friendly
Kids are going to love this colourful take on the original premise, and parents should have no problem taking them to see it. A lot of the most moany cry-babies laying into the film pre-release have shouted that the reboot “ruins their childhood”. I’d argue that the first films were never really intended for kids anyway, and that The Real Ghostbusters cartoon and toy line did more to make it a family-friendly franchise than Murray, Aykroyd and co ever did.
From the BBFC website:
The BBFC’s Guidelines at ‘PG’ state there may be ‘Mild sex references and innuendo only’. The [1984 Ghostbusters] film contains a number of sex references, both verbal and visual, that exceed this allowance. Most notable is a scene in which it is implied that a ghost is performing oral sex on a man. As the man’s trousers and zip are unfastened, the camera moves to his face as he sinks back on the bed with his eyes crossed in pleasure. Later, a woman who has been possessed by a demon rolls about on a bed with a man and tells him: “I want you inside me”. Although these references were permitted at ‘PG’ in the 1980s, when there was no classification available between ‘PG’ and ’15’, they are now more appropriately classified at ’12A’
The 2016 Ghostbusters film is far more vibrant and silly than the earlier films but, as you’d expect from the director of Bridesmaids, retains the parent-pleasing sly wit and innuendo of the original. Minus that weird blowjob ghost, thankfully. Sure there’s a few jump scares, and there may be a soft swear word in there, but this is on the whole innocent fun.
3) The Cast is Great
This should never have been in any doubt, but given the strange misogynistic backlash the film received before release, it needs to be addressed. Starring possibly the funniest ladies in Hollywood, the Ghostbusters cast is excellent. This is a core team of SNL alumni, after all – just like the original male Ghostbusters were. Wiig and McCarthy have an easy, long-standing chemistry which pulls the two leads’ friendship believably together, Jones and Hemsworth get the biggest laughs and McKinnon is a revelation, creating a slightly-deranged yet effortlessly cool character. She is to the new Ghostbusters squad what Raphael is to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Han Solo is to Star Wars. Every kid in the playground is going to want to be her – even the boys.
4) The New Gadgets are Excellent
Maybe it’s because they’re McKinnon’s toys, but the new gear the Ghostbusters wield is awesome, from proton-powered boxing gloves to dual-wielded ionising pistols. They fit the universe perfectly – the sort of things youngsters are going to be putting on the tops of their Christmas lists. And there’s more action this time around too – not an overload of fast-cuts and explosions, but plenty of time to see all those gadgets, new and old, used just how you imagined when you’d roleplay with a rucksack and a hoover as a kid.
5) It Plays Just the Right Amount of Fan Service
It’s never easy rebooting a beloved franchise, and Ghostbusters has had a harder ride than most attempts. But you can tell there’s a lot of respect for the source material. It is jam-packed full of Easter Eggs for those who know where to look, and at this point it’s no secret to say there are some cameos from returning cast members too. But it’s all done in service of the new story – some things borrowed, some things new.
It’s Not Side-Splittingly Funny (Especially the Cameos)
Now, before the Ghostbuster trolls weigh in and go “HA! I told you women can’t be funny!”, I first want you to know that a) Despite loving it, I’ve never really thought that the 1984 Ghostbusters was *that* funny and b) the only reason I bring this up at all is that I expect a lot from this exceedingly rib-tickling ensemble of cast and director. But while I was chuckling throughout the reboot, there were few of the belly-laugh moments that were sewn so liberally through Feig’s earlier efforts like Bridesmaids. This *is* a funny film (the way the female ‘busters deal with the incomparably dumb receptionist Hemsworth is consistently excellent, for example). But some gags fall flat, either due to a script needing a little more zing, or some poor editing with the comic timing.
But the worst moments, hopefully without veering into spoiler territory (and surely to the chagrin of the film’s biggest pre-release detractors) come from the cameos of returning cast members. They are so phoned in and underwritten as to take away from, rather than add to, the film as a whole.
It shouldn’t matter though. Forget the trolls, the underbelly of the web. Go in with an open mind, leave with a smile – bustin’ still makes me feel good, no matter the chromosomes.