It came. It saw. It did not kick ass.
Last week the Internet and film fans everywhere were given their first official look at one of the most infamously debated films in recent history: Paul Feig's gender swapped remake of Ghostbusters.
If you haven't seen it yet, here it is for your viewing...well...let's just leave it at viewing...
First off, it should be noted that this is not a sequel. There's been a lot of discussion as to whether or not this was a sequel given the rather ambiguous beginning to the trailer that references the original Ghostbusters crew. This is not the case. [Director] Paul Feig was very clear from the start that his idea was to do a remake that homages the original but does not take place in the same continuity as the 1984 classic piece of nostalgia.
It's clear watching the trailer that this is a straight remake that reintroduces the concept with new characters. It picks up certain iconic scenes from the original and puts a new spin on them. I can say with honest sincerity that some of the scenes look nice. The kid in me would be lying if I said it wasn't nice to see the firehouse again (even though we see it quite often in many a film and TV – it's quite the staple in Hollywood set pieces).
From there, however, it's pretty touch and go. We're soon introduced to three of our four main characters: Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) as they reenact the library scene where the film's heroes are face-to-face with their first actual ghost.
It's true that special effects have come a long way since the late 70s/early 80s, however, that isn't to say they always look better or have as much of an effect on the feel of the film. After all, I have often said that Terminator 2: Judgment Day still, to this day, has some of the best visual effects I have ever seen and actually blew Terminator: Genisys out of the water in that department.
One of the many great things about the original film were how the special effects influenced the feel of the movie. The ghost effects, although dated by today's standards, still hold up because in their grittiness they gave an inherent creepiness that smooth and clean (albeit detailed) special effects just can't produce. When I see the "Library Ghost" in the original, I'm genuinely kind of creeped out and nervous. When I see the new one in the 2016 trailer I just feel like I'm watching a mediocre cinematic from a video game. Which, yes, is a meme that is now going around. But it's true.
One can then argue that maybe the special effects aren't done but that is hardly ever the case. The special effects for scenes that are put in the trailer are done. The "unfinished" special effects are the ones that still need to be animated for scenes that didn't make the cut into the trailer. So it's safe to say that what we're seeing here is what we're getting.
This scene, then, goes straight into one of the other aspects of the trailer and this film's general direction that I found unfavorable. The library ghost scene of the original, in this new version, is combined with one of the other iconic scenes of the first film: the infamous sliming moment.
You see boys 'n girls, in the original 1984 film, Peter Venkman (played hilariously on point by Bill Murray) was face-to-face with franchise spokesman, Slimer, and is then...well...slimed as the menacing specter passes through him. In the Paul Feig version, we get the Library Ghost spitting up ectoplasm on Kristen Wiig (the Venkman of this version). It's the first of a couple throwbacks this trailer has to The Exorcist and is the catalyst for a scene where Wiig discusses the difficulty of scrubbing said ectoplasm out of "all the cracks."
And there it is...Paul Feig's signature style of humor that showcases, essentially, the female equivalent of a dick & fart joke. And while those are sometimes funny in the right context, the bluntness of just throwing it out there doesn't tickle my particular funny bone. The original film had a simplicity to its humor that required few details. It was kept vague and everything was appropriately implied. All Bill Murray needed to say was "He slimed me." Your imagination took care of the rest. We didn't need to regroup later and have Mr. Murray discussing his extra long shower and scrubbing the green ooze out from between his butt cheeks. We just didn't. And to show I'm just not being sexist I'll add that I don't need a joke of this caliber in my Ghostbusters film anymore than I needed discussions of snowballing or ass-to-mouth in my Clerks films. It's just not what I'm into and it brings down the scene.
The rest of the trailer plays out rather routinely as we get a montage of action packed scenes of ghostbusting and the introduction of our fourth main character, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), whom represents every negative African American stereotype thrown into one character. "I know New Yawk."
I'm sorry, but in this day and age where absolutely everything in film is racist, how are people not ripping this character apart? When Winston Zeddmore (Ernie Hudson) walked into the Ghostbusters universe he was written in a very positive portrayal for minorities of the time. He wasn't as educated as the other three, in that he wasn't a scientist of any kind, but it wasn't necessary to emphasize that or straight call it out. He was just your average New Yorker down on his luck and needing a job. He even wore a nice blazer to his interview. So introducing a character who acts like it's taking everything she has to not yell at the screen of her own trailer is not exactly a positive selling point to the "message" that this film is supposed to be setting toward gender and ethnic equality.
There are some positive notes to the trailer, in all fairness. Despite the general lackluster look to the film's ghosts, which look like they were all pulled from one of those family-friendly supernatural films like Scooby Doo or Goosebumps, the updated look of Slimer is pretty fantastic. It would have been severely upsetting if they had tried to make him look any different. So that they took the effort and the advantage of today's CGI capabilities to make him look this good is very pleasing to me as a fan of the franchise.
I also like some of the new additions to the ghostbusting arsenal, such as the proton pistols that Holtzmann busts out with. Although, not really knowing the extent of the direction they are taking her character, I feel like the licking of the barrel is a bit much.
One of the nagging problems I have always had with this film, since the beginning, is that all four main characters have been gender swapped. Naturally, everyone who opposes this "innovative" and "empowering" concept is a close-minded sexist. However, I don't have a problem with a female ghostbuster. If they had been able to green light a Ghostbusters 3 that all of the original cast and crew could sign off on, then I would have loved to see a female ghostbuster added to the roster. Perhaps a grown up version of Dana's son Oscar and a young love interest donning the jumpsuits.
However, a remake that gender swaps the entire cast just because a director known for his predominantly female leads (Bridesmaids and The Heat) thinks it's a good idea doesn't sell the concept for me. And the trailer doesn't do a very good job at enforcing whatever it was about said concept that Paul Feig and Sony found so compelling.
That said, I do find some mild enjoyment in Chris Hemsworth and his casting as the new receptionist/handy man?
Where I can't find any level of believability in the logic of four women deciding to be ghostbusters (a topic that I have discussed time and again as just being unrealistic due to women being more rational in their decision making) I can at least appreciate the irony of playing off of that creative decision by casting one of the manliest action stars working today in a role previously filled by a petite, awkward, yet outspoken female. It at least has some fun with the concept that could have otherwise been simply left alone.
I love Ghostbusters. I am a fan and I have been for as long as I can remember. I even like Ghostbusters II – for all of its faults, it had some great moments and Viggo the Carpathian was one helluva villain. For that, you might say that I am a little biased and that I am not giving this film a fair shot. That's fair to assume and I won't deny a certain level of bias.
However, I can say that after viewing this trailer I don't think the concept works. There was a cleverness to the original. It had an original concept written in the classic era of SNL inspired comedy that really resonated then and still holds up now. The simple fact that it's a remake already hinders its effectiveness because it's trying to reproduce an already proven formula in a new way.
This movie is going to be hard pressed to have lines of dialogue that top "If someone asks you if you're a god you say YES" or scenes as ridiculously creative as where Ray (Dan Ackroyd) conjures up a 100 story Marshmallow Man as the world's ultimate destroyer because he felt like his memories of roasting marshmallows at camp would never hurt them.
But maybe this is all just me. Maybe there are some truly amazing scenes to this film that we unfortunately are not being presented with in this first trailer. We'll have to wait and see. What do you think? Feel free to discuss whether or not I hit the mark with my analysis of the new Ghostbusters trailer. And don't forget to follow me on Twitter (@ThisIsJamesT) for all things rant and ravey.