Paul Feig (Spy) directs an all-star female-lead cast in this reboot of the classic 1984 film. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) have believed in ghosts their entire life, and have set their goals on proving their existence to the world using science. With the help of Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and Patty (Leslie Jones), they become the Ghostbusters and fight to save New York from an impending paranormal apocalypse.
Most of you reading this probably have your own opinion about the Ghostbusters reboot without having even seen it. I'll agree that the film has suffered from a poor marketing campaign and fanboys hating on the movie hasn't helped expectations either. But I'm someone who has been hopeful from the start, and I can fortunately say, I had a pretty great time with Ghostbusters.
Paul Feig is a director who's really made a name for himself in the past couple of years by directing successful female-lead comedies such as Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy. Feig usually deals with R ratings and is allowed to be a bit more adult with his humor, but even when restrained by the PG-13 rating, he deals out plenty of laughs and a solid dose of summer action.
In this 2016 version of Ghostbusters, which is packed to the brim full of references and callbacks to the original, Kristen Wiig is Erin Gilbert, a particle physicist about to get tenure at Columbia University. She discovers that a ghost hunting book she wrote years ago has been published by Abby and could hurt her chances of getting tenure and goes off to confront Abby.
Abby has been working on ghost hunting tech along with her pal Jillian Holtzmann in a college basement and the two have made real progress with their science, so when they learn of ghost activity in the city from Erin, they spring into action and meet a real-life apparition, which proceeds to fire ectoplasm all over Erin. Soon after, the three are setting up shop and waiting by the phone for sightings of ghosts in New York. Along the way they pick up Patty, an MTA worker who knows New York to a T, which becomes of some use when hunting down paranormal entities. They also recruit Kevin, a receptionist who is all good looks with no intellect whatsoever (played astonishingly well by Chris Hemsworth).
The film gets off to an OK start, but once we meet all of our characters and actually move forward with the story, the film is an absolute blast. The characters are fun and engaging and their encounters with supernatural threats are thrilling. The ghosts have a practical design with a CGI finish that works incredibly well. Apart from Slimer and Stay Puft, the ghosts are actually quite scary looking. Feig nails the tone and follows a pretty similar formula to the original Ghostbusters.
The Ghostbusters discover that the rise in ghost activity is no coincidence. Someone is activating devices that break the barrier between our world and the ghost world, allowing entities to travel into this reality and eventually cause an apocalypse-level event where the dead will reign over this world. Perhaps in a more political move and stance against the fanboys hating against this movie, our antagonist is a sad and lonely nerd. Unfortunately the villain is sorely underdeveloped; he has one scene explaining his motive for wanting to unleash the dead but its not fleshed out enough.
Of course, the biggest thing surrounding this movie is the online hate and cynicism that it has received since the announcement, but more importantly since the trailers first released. Many calling the film a "bastardization of their favorite film" and many simply hating on the production due to four women being in the lead roles. This has transformed from a movie to a political stance on feminism which has placed so much more pressure on the film and happily, this is a solid movie, which fair critics and audiences will hopefully gravitate to and will hopefully shut up the angry misogynist nerds which rose up against it. The film's greatest victory is that this isn't a feminist movement, this would be the same film if it had starred four men in the lead and an attractive actress in the Kevin role.
Throughout the film, there's a strong comic energy. McCarthy and Wiig are solid and endearing in the leads, Jones is a burst of pure energy in every scene and is much better than what the promos show, but it's Kate McKinnon as Holtzmann, who absolutely steals the show. McKinnon rose to fame on SNL but this is her first large film role, and hopefully this will project her into super-stardom because she's simply magnetic on the big screen. Her character is quirky and dangerous but incredibly captivating. In a way I'm sad that Feig didn't use McKinnon even more, but she has the perfect amount of screen time for the type of character she is. Another standout is Chris Hemsworth in the role of Kevin, a lovably dim-witted receptionist. Hemsworth teased his comedic chops in 2015's Vacation, but here he solidifies his comedic talents. Each performer plays to their strengths and they make up a really entertaining and coherent team — a team that I'd love to re-visit in a sequel.
There are a couple of scenes which feel clunky in the script and moments in the third act which don't quite follow the rules set up earlier in the film (such as Proton Packs destroying ghosts rather than just restraining them) but it all has a great energy to it, which is something Feig is a master of. He can take a fairly straightforward scene and turn it into a brilliant splash of comedy. That being said, not every joke hits. I'd say about 70% of the humor works and the other 30% falls rather flat. Many hail the original Ghostbusters as a masterpiece, when in my opinion, it suffers from the same third act story issues as this reboot does.
Ghostbusters' biggest issue is that it's beholden to the original film. There are of course cameos by the original cast (Ernie Hudson's is by far the best and there's a touching nod to the late Harold Ramis) and plenty of callbacks to the original film, but after a while, the references and forced cameos, became a bit tiresome and grueling and held this back from being it's own great film and instead one that felt like it was there to simply honor the original.
This reboot surprisingly is just as good as the original and is easily superior to Ghostbusters 2. The team is as engaging and funny, the ghosts are as scary and the tone is just right. With a better story and less references to the original, the sequel could be something really special. This is one of the most surprising movies of 2016 and also one of the funniest despite sometimes getting stuck when paying homage to 1984 film. I'm giving Ghostbusters an 8/10.