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Ghostbusters (2016) review!

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'Ghostbusters' (2016) directed by Paul Feig
'Ghostbusters' (2016) poster art

‘Ghostbusters’ (2016) poster art

  • Written by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig
  • Directed by Paul Feig
  • Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones & Chris Hemsworth

Erin Gilbert (Wiig) and Abby Yates (McCarthy) are a pair of unheralded authors who write a book positing that ghosts are real. A few years later Gilbert lands a prestigious teaching position at Columbia University, but her book resurfaces and she is laughed out of academia. Gilbert reunites with Yates and others when ghosts invade Manhattan and she and her team have to save the world.

‘Ghostbusters’ is in cinemas worldwide now!

Well, that was a pleasant surprise. Somewhere between a combination of low expectations and trepidation lies ‘Ghostbusters’ a fun, uplifting and popcorn crunching summer blockbuster. A film that definitely doesn’t deserve the hate that it has received online.

Like many I was unsure another film in the ‘Ghostbusters’ franchise was necessary. Having now seen this film I have changed my mind. What writers/director Paul Feig is able to achieve in the space of 116mins is a modern interpretation which recalls some of the magic of the original. Thanks to some good casting choices the film is able to capitalise on strong chemistry to achieve its goal.

Wiig and McCarthy are fairly obvious choices for a Feig film. It would be all too easy to disregard the casting as a case of the director calling on his friends. You would however be wrong. Both make strong leads even in a property this large. Wiig’s character, Erin Gilbert, is at first a little forced. Wiig doesn’t naturally play geeky so comes off instead as being very awkward. By the films climax Wiig seems much more comfortable with her character and her environment. McCarthy is natural throughout. Abby Yates is the most developed character of all the four leads and easily comes across as the lead. It’s classic McCarthy at her best. Enough said.

Leslie Jones pulls off a lot of good laughs throughout. Her character, Patty Tolan, was the breakout for me as I had expected little more from her than what has been shown in trailers. In fact Patty brings a fair amount of heart as well as humour to the proceedings.

Kate McKinnon feels like the weakest link in the group. The character of Jillian Holtzmann was clearly inspired by Egon Spendler and McKinnon plays up to it in spades. It’s not that she can’t act or that the character is flawed. It just feels, at times, incredibly forced. There are moments where it comes naturally and those play really well but much of her screen time feels like one liner after one liner.

Chris Hemsworth as dopey Kevin also receives a lions share of the laughs from the audience. I wouldn’t quite say he steals the show but he comes close. His dance moves will easily be remembered by many for years to come. Kevin is generically dumb but is still likeable in his stupidity. Should he return for any sequel it would be nice to see some heart injected in to the character. To see him care for the four leads would open up the character and make him a little more human.

The story of ‘Ghostbusters’ emulates what has come before without becoming a carbon copy. There’s room for callback moments such as the giant Stay Puft man and Slimer. There’s also room for a really random cameo by Ozzy Osbourne, there are lots of other cameos that I’m sure you’ve heard about. I won’t spoil those.

The weak spot in the story is its villain. Neil Casey as Rowan North is an odd choice of villain. Previous films have pitted the team against a supernatural foe where Feig chooses to have the films most loudest critic as the villain. A petulant man child. There is no real reason for North’s actions despite a hatred of humans. The character could have used a little more backstory to make his plans plausible. But ‘Ghostbusters’ is a film which spends tends to ignore explaining itself when it can be avoided.

There are unexplainable moments throughout but this is the kind of film you can safely throw those thoughts away from. There’s really no need for deep thought here, only for enjoyment.

‘Ghostbusters’ is visually great. The special effects are worthy of a film costing $144M to make. The ghosts are bright and colourful in the most cartoonish of ways. The vomit goo, they scream but never will they make you jump. A scare or two would have been nice but then this film could easily appeal to kids as well as adults. Feig is so used to making adult comedy so it’s great to see him turning his hand to a more cross-over genre. His brand of comedy fits well with the colourful, hyper-realist visuals of ‘Ghostbusters’ so altogether the film feels pretty slick.

The score is provided by Theodore Shapiro, most famous for comedies like ‘Spy’ (also Feig) and ‘Zealander 2’. There are moments his score does stand out but the film is generally overtaken by its mainstream soundtrack. Thankfully the abysmal 2016 version of the classic theme tune by Fall Out Boy is rejected for much of the runtime. It appears in one short scene where the bulk of the film features the original theme or variations on it.

Verdict

‘Ghostbusters’ is fun but not groundbreaking. It plays upon the comedy strengths of its cast and puts it against a backdrop that evokes fond memories of the original franchise. It isn’t a necessary film but it is one that deserves a watch. If I gave half scores this film would be a 3.5!

3 stars

 

 

3 stars

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