Film review: GHOSTBUSTERS, from ‘Built For Speed’

With massive script changes and ridiculous internet fan boy hatred over the switch to an all-female cast, the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot had a troubled birth.

On paper, though, the film had potential for a raunchier comic take on the much-loved 1984 original as it reunited the Bridesmaids team of Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and director Paul Feig. Unfortunately, little of the inspired, outrageous comedy and touching female bonding that made Bridesmaids such a success has infiltrated this film. Also, this reboot mostly fails to achieve the clever balance of supernatural thrills and droll comedy that made the Ivan Reitman original so enjoyable.

The plot of this remake largely clings to the original template as a group of scientists with a penchant for ghost hunting set up shop catching nefarious ectoplasm spewing spooks who start terrorising New York. This time the ghostbusters are a female quartet of physicist Erin (Kristin Wiig), her former colleague ghost-obsessed scientist Abby (Melissa McCarthy), kooky engineer Jillian (Kate McKinnon) and subway worker Patty (Leslie Jones). They’re joined by astonishingly dim-witted himbo receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth).

This film is a disappointment rather than a dud. It adds very little to the supernatural fantasy of the original as the group simply bag ghosts with much the same equipment as that used by the original quartet. A slight variation here is that the film contains a crazed villain, vengeful hotel worker and misunderstood genius Neil (Rowan North) who wants to unleash a ghost apocalypse upon the world.

Feig attempts to concoct some Bridesmaids-style banter between the leads but very little of it is funny. Wiig does some of her usual ‘lovable loser goes crazy routine’ which produces a few laughs but she’s never able to fully impose herself on the role. Oddly, Melissa McCarthy says almost nothing funny in this film. As Patty, African American actress Lesley Jones is likeable and energetic but unsettlingly stereotyped. Kate McKinnon has a couple of inspired comic moments but spends too much of the film contorted into odd postures with an annoyingly smug look on her face. Aside from depicting the villainous Neil as a social misfit the film provides little explanation of his motives and North’s eccentric performance is reminiscent of a villain from one of the dodgy George Clooney Batman films. Hemsworth is amusing although Aussie audiences should be concerned that he was allowed to keep his Australian accent to play numbskull Kevin.

The original Ghostbusters was so successful because of its characters: dry witted cynic Bill Murray, earnest goofball Dan Ackroyd, likeable nerd Harold Ramos and cool, straight-talking non-scientist Ernie Hudson. They shaped the film in a way that Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon and Jones don’t. Seemingly to give this film a seal of approval and appease grumpy fan boys there are some cameos from original cast members but these are brief and ineffectual.

As is so often the case with remakes this film tries to go bigger than the original, unfortunately, this results in over-the-top, eyeball-pummelling special effects set-pieces that are strangely uninvolving.

There’s just enough action and fragments of humour to prevent this film from being dull but it’s certainly not a thrilling way to resurrect the Ghostbusters franchise.

Nick’s rating: **1/2.

Genre: Comedy/ Horror.

Classification: PG.

Director(s): Paul Feig.

Release date: 14th July 2016.

Running time: 116 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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