Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016) stands on its own two feet

Photo Credit: Ghostbusters / Columbia Pictures
Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristin Wiig) is a quirky physics professor whose bid for tenure is put on hold when a former friend obsessed with the paranormal Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and her zany engineer Dr. Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) republishes a book they wrote about the supernatural. In exchange for removing the book from publication, Gilbert assists the duo to investigate a possible haunting.

When their investigation turns out to be a real phenomenon, the group decides to open a ghostbusting business, soon adding Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) into the mix. This being 2016, the gals' work soon faces backlash from online spectators and band together to save New York City from an impending supernatural apocalyptic event.

Even though the movie features some of the biggest comedians around today, my two biggest reservations were the movie's comedic tone and the cast. Comedy and action flicks today have a knack for breaking the fourth wall to become super awkward in landing punchlines. This, coupled with not being big fans of Wiig's work and worrying that McCarthy would only be on a roll of sweary tirades and pratfalls, my expectations for the movie were low at first. How the flick was going to fare was like gambling to cross the streams and praying it pays off.

Payoff, the movie really did. Director Paul Feig with screenwriter Katie Dippold pack in enough action, comedy, and heartfelt team spirit to create one heck of a ride. The script subtly follows thee original but stays unique in all the right places. They commit to doing their own thing, and deal with the extensive offline backlash, but not forget where their inspiration sprang. Their adventure isn't concerned with being flashy or "rewriting film history", just with being entertaining, giving more actors a chance to shine, and celebrating friendship.

The cast is truly a revelation, especially Wiig and McCarthy and how I imagined them. They step out of their comfort zones and don't rest on their trademark personalities. Gilbert and Yates are sensible, pragmatic and quirky leaders of the pack with McKinnon's Holtzmann and Jones' Tolan are not too far behind. There's no doubt these women are funny in their own right, whether I'm a fan of them or not, but the cast shares more than just camaraderie through comedy. Their characters use brains, brawn, and sisterhood to take down some nasty, creepy ghosts; it's downright awesome.

However, even though the movie takes two steps forward with its leads, Hemsworth and the villain both take a complexity hit. Chris Hemsworth's role as the beefcake secretary Kevin is dumber than dumb and is pretty useless. The villain, too, a creepy demon responsible for unleashing the ghosts on New York City is just a-okay. The epic finale between the Ghostbusters versus supernatural bestows some epic special effects, but the demon himself isn't entirely threatening and a little too forgettable. It would've been nice and even better if they weren't merely stand-ins (hot or not).

After so many reboots and remakes, it's a good skill to learn how to distinguish the old from the new. Ghostbusters didn't hold a lot of hype for me in the beginning, but it really exceeded my expectations. In the opposite effect of Suicide Squad's trailers over-promising, Ghostbusters' promotions under-delivered. The cast is so much fun and their characters achieve so many levels of kick-assery. Feig's movie doesn't clone the original and manages to stand on its own and beyond the hype. Let's go!

Rating: ★★★
Have you seen Ghostbusters? What are your thoughts?

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