Review: Ghostbusters

First things first – couldn’t give a damn about the original Ghostbusters. I think I’ve probably seen it about three or four times, and there’s nothing particularly remarkable for me in it. So straight off the bat, I thought the hate towards this was INSANE – and was hopeful about how funny it might be. Honestly though, I was underwhelmed – I felt it was a waste of cast and crew compared to what they’ve done before, and it may be the US/UK split in comedy tastes, but a lot of this film was just not that funny (despite the best efforts of Chris Hemsworth – wasn’t expecting that).

Scientist Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) used to believe in the supernatural, but has tried to leave that behind with little luck, as a previously-published book brings her back into touch with estranged friend and fellow scientist Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), who – along with new, odd technician Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) – is still committed to proving ghosts exist. A spate of hauntings, one discovered by New York history buff/underground worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), proves Erin wrong, and together the “ghostbusters”, alongside idiot receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), try to make sense of the sinister goings-on masterminded by loner weirdo Rowan (Neil Casey).

I can’t really complain about the story, because it does what it needs to – ghostbusters bust ghosts. What I find a real shame is all this comic talent feels wasted, cut off mid-joke or edited – maybe I was spoilt by director Paul Feig’s work on Bridesmaids, which was hilarious, raunchy fun. Two of that film’s stars are main characters here, Wiig and McCarthy, but I felt like Wiig played too straight too much – she’s way funnier in meltdown or in an awkward comedy situation, and very rarely do we get much of that here. McCarthy is way more restrained than usual, though that I felt was in her favour – she’s able to be more dramatic, jokey and less frumpy, but still less funny than I would have expected. It’s not that they’re bad, it’s that the script and film just don’t give them enough to play with in my opinion.

ghostbusters_ver6For a comedy, this film has a lot of empty, boring parts, or periods where (at least the UK audience I was with) just didn’t find the jokes funny. A particular case in point is Kate McKinnon’s Holtzmann, who is weird – a specific choice, but one that sometimes just feels like she wandered in from some other, more bizarre film. Again, had the humour been broader, or perhaps given room to breathe, she may well have been the standout character – as for Leslie Jones’ Patty, she brings a few laughs, but so much more could have been made of her character. The ensemble are clearly a great group of female comedians, but I really feel like they were underserved.

Characters are thrown at you, and then not really developed. I wanted more time with them, more hilarity and less technobabble (there is a lot), which at first I thought might have been intentional for laughs, and then realised was just… babble for the sake of babble. Chris Hemsworth’s casting was a very clever move, but even that almost backfires. As the monumentally stupid Kevin – a man who wears glasses without lenses so he can scratch his eyes – some of his stupidity was genuinely funny, but too much wasn’t. I still felt that he brought something different and against type to the movie though – he looks as if he’s enjoying taking the mick out of himself, particularly in the final act (and the credits – stay behind if you’re a Hemsworth fan-girl, trust me).

Casey’s villain is creepy but almost pointless, his motivation simply being an outcast, and felt like a villain for the sake of having one. There are some surprising cameos, which do nothing to detract from the film (unless you’re a serious fan of the original), and which all actually add something funny, while other roles – including The Wire’s Michael K. Williams’ cop, or Andy Garcia’s PR-obsessed mayor – are more or less cameos as well. Effects-wise, the newer ghosts look better, but lose a little of the ’80s films’ terror (again, CGI over practical effects), and the conclusion is seriously action-packed, which makes it a weird comedy-scifi-horror hybrid. Musically, the original theme makes an appearance or two, as does the abomination of a cover by Fall-Out Boy and Missy Elliot (yes, you read that correctly), but was otherwise forgettable.

I think it’s a real shame that a film that had to go up against so much crap from idiots on the internet (some of it is still continuing after it’s come out, because these man-babies are pathetic). I was hoping it would be better than it was, and unfortunately it didn’t live up to my expectations, though I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy it more than I did.

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