By: Muneeb Arshid
If I was doing a review of the backlash when the trailers for the remake of Ghostbusters were released, it would end up being a stream of misogynistic comments from those heroes we all like to call trolls. We all knew that there was going to be a certain backlash to the casting choice going with an entirely female cast, but also the fact that many people did not even want a remake of a film that is beloved by many. If you do look at it with an unbiased view, it’s actually not a bad idea, changing up the formula from an all-male cast in 1984 to essentially an all-female cast here in 2016. However, if you’re trying to please the fanfare, then you might just be out of luck.
As a whole, the film is almost a shot for shot remake of the 1984 classic. Many would believe that fact to be off-putting for a film that is already an unoriginal idea. However, for the most part, there isn’t a lot of trouble with that fact. Firstly, the characters themselves are not necessarily mirrors of the 1984 characters but do come close. Melissa McCarthy plays Abby Yates who is a physicist studying the paranormal with her partner Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). Yates’ former partner and friend, Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) shows up after Yates finds that their book about ghosts has been republished, which is quite an inconvenience for Gilbert as she is trying to maintain her public image as she goes for tenure at Columbia University. The three ladies begin their “ghostbusting” after investigating and experiencing a paranormal event together. This proves Yates’ and Gilbert’s theory and the three scientists begin their adventure hunting the phenomena. During their adventure, they meet up with MTA worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) who also has her own experience with a ghost and contacts the “Ghostbusters”. She joins the team citing the fact that the rest of the team may have the scientific skills, but she “knows New York and has a car”, that car, of course, being a hearse. Completing the mirror opposite of the 1984 team is the employment of Chris Hemsworth as Kevin the secretary, who is more a sight for sore eyes for the team than actually being productive for the team.
The whole idea for the direction of this movie was brought about after the untimely death of Harold Ramis, who played Egon Spengler in the original film. After his death, Bill Murray refused to sign on to the film in a lead role and thus the new direction was taken for the film. However, the remaining main cast of the 1984 film have cameo roles, with said roles being on the more comedic side in the film. For the better part of the almost 2-hour running time, the film isn’t necessarily a bad film, as many braves souls on the internet have put out there. That’s not to say, that the film provides good laughs during the entire runtime, with enough down bits in the film that make the runtime feel longer than what is already quite a long film. The problem is, there is so much of the story that makes you long for the original film, and honestly just feels that the filmmakers didn’t put a lot of effort constructing this story. Yes, they’ve changed the characters here and introduced this very well known twist, however, it seems that the characters have been thrown into the 1984 story with just enough change that complements the new characters’ back stories.
The characters themselves, are highly enjoyable in this film, which is actually quite an amazing feat, as it was the characters themselves that were the object of criticism before the release. The main characters all have great chemistry with each other and are the main reason that the film actually stays afloat. There is a sense of real camaraderie between them with enough back story that interconnects them all while building them up as strong characters. I can understand the love and affection for the original cast especially for those that experienced the film when it was first released. However, for myself, who had just recently watched the film, it was actually quite difficult to connect with those characters, which wasn’t the case with this more recent cast. It could be due to a generational gap maybe, as I did not grow up with Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd in their hay-day, but I do believe that the two films are on-par with each other, but would just depend on the viewer’s preference to the cast.
At the end of the day, Ghostbusters isn’t necessarily the funniest film of the year, nor is it the most coherent film of the year either. However, with genuine characters who are easily likable, it will surely help the fact that this film is definitely going to be getting the sequel treatment in the future.
Ghostbusters, the 2016 version, receives a grade of C+ (6.6/10).