October 10, 2016

Blu-Ray Review: GHOSTBUSTERS (2016)

Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Chris Hemsworth, Cecily Strong, Andy Garcia, Neil Casey, Charles Dance, Ed Begley Jr., Michael McDonald. Directed by Paul Feig. (2016, 117/134 min).

So let me get this straight, fanboys...it’s okay to crap-out a godawful reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but Ghostbusters doesn’t get a pass?

This may be the first would-be blockbuster in film history to be effectively destroyed by prerelease hatred from trolls, sexists and legions of ignoramuses who don’t have anything more substantial to be offended by. The damn thing never stood a chance, which is too bad because it’s an enjoyable film in its own right.

I know I’m in the minority on this, but the 1984 original isn’t such a cinematic sacred cow that putting a new spin on old material is out of the question. Not only that, this new one is a hell of a lot better than Ghostbusters II. If you vehemently disagree, maybe you’re letting your love of the first film cloud your judgment because it really sucked (even Bill Murray thought so).

"Oh, this? Waffles. It makes waffles."

Not a sequel, Ghostbusters 2016 is essentially a loose remake with different characters, new ghosts (save for a few returning favorites) and a disgruntled human antagonist who unleashes paranormal chaos on New York. Aside from some plot tweaks here and there, the story is more-or-less the same: four people who lose their previous jobs and form a paranormal pest control service to rid various venues of vengeful spirits.

The team is similar to those of the original...the initial skeptic (Kristen Wiig), two techno-geeks (Melissa McCarthy & Kate KcKinnon) and the more streetwise new hire (Leslie Jones). Chris Hemsworth is their beefy-but-phenomenally-dumb receptionist. While no one is the quick-witted wise-ass Bill Murray was in the original (a huge reason that film is considered a classic), they all have their funny moments (especially Jones) and display great chemistry together. If you’re able to loosen your grip of 1984’s Ghostbusters for a few hours, the whole gender reversal aspect is a non-issue.

Unfortunately, some people won't be able to let go, and part of the blame could arguably be placed on the movie itself. This film is constantly referencing the original Ghostbusters, from gratuitous cameos and iconic bits of dialogue to the title song that sucked even in 1984. Whether it was at the studio’s insistence or writer-director Paul Feig’s, these shout-outs prevent this film from establishing its own identity and simply invite more unfavorable comparisons. Seeing Bill Murray pop up for a few minutes might illicit a knowing chuckle, but it’s an unnecessary distraction that adds nothing to the story.

That aside, the new Ghostbusters has enough amusing visual effects, humorous scenes, clever dialogue and likable characters to work well enough on its own. While no classic, it’s undeserving of all the unwarranted verbal venom it’s received. It does deserve a second life on home video. The movie’s a lot of fun.

FEATURETTES: “Meet the Team”; “Chris Hemsworth is Kevin”; “The Ghosts of Ghostbusters”; “Visual Effects: 30 Years Later”; “Slime Time”
Alternate/Deleted Scenes
2 Gag Reels (Why 2 instead of one long one is beyond me)
2 Audio Commentaries
“Jokes-A-Plenty” (Alternate dialogue scenes)
Photo Gallery
Extended & Theatrical Versions
Digital Copy

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