In 1984, Ivan Reitman directed a movie conceived on the ideas of Saturday Night Live stars and co-Blues Brothers John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd. With Harold Ramis on board after Belushi’s death, the plot moved from an adventure through time and space to the quirky supernatural comedy, Ghostbusters, that became known as “the greatest movie of 1984”.
In 2016, Paul Fieg directed a reboot of the iconic first film, which has quickly become the most controversial remake of this century. The trailer, published in March, is the most disliked film trailer on YouTube, and as of May was crowned the ninth most disliked video on Youtube.
2016 has brought with it an endless flood of remakes and sequels (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Star Trek, Jason Bourne, Ninja Turtles just to name a few), but why did THIS movie spark so much outrage? After seeing the movie, I can honestly say; It’s not that bad. And for all those who whine and say that it isn’t in the true spirit of the original, I ask you to remember that Dan Ackroyd was the executive producer on this remake.
“First a female Wiggle, then a lead female in StarWars and now WOMAN GHOSTBUSTERS!??” I hear half the internet scream, “It’s 2016, what’s the actual problem here?” I hear the other half reply. This movie was not as politicised as I had expected it to be, which gives all those against this feminist remake no reason to complain. There was no questioning or even elaboration on the Ghostbusters being female (within the actual film), they just were. Which is a reflection of how it should be.
Ghostbusters didn’t go in the direction I assumed- that is, challenging stereotypes and making strong statements along the way- because that’s not really what this movie universe is about. Instead, the movie focused on kickin’ ass and making the audience laugh. The characters did not have much development at all and little to no arc in their individual stories, but they were more than the trailer made them out to be. The trailer introduced the characters as walking stereotypes. There was the “sassy black woman” (Leslie Jones), “smart and unlikable prude” (Kristen Wiig), “sexy eye candy” (Kate McKinnon) and “funny because she’s chubby goofball” (Melissa McCarthy). In the film, they’re literally all just women who take an interest in suppressing the supernatural. I was thoroughly relieved that there was not one single fat-shaming joke, which is a tired and un-funny trope that appears in almost every single movie McCarthy stars in. Chris Hemsworth appears as a satirical critique of the stereotypical role typically assigned to female sub characters in so many movies.
The film was full of wider pop culture references and played on the nostalgia factor by including cameos and easter eggs that saluted the cast and themes of the original. Ghostbusters doesn’t “ruin” the original like so many had feared, it’s just a modern remake. My only major criticism would be that the characters didn’t really develop at all, including the villain who was introduced from the beginning and relied too heavily on the audience to assume his motivations. This could be due to the fact that it wasn’t a particularly character driven story. The plot echoed that of the original and the focus was drawn more to the quips and fighting sequences than the characters. The sound design recycled the familiar theme tune in new ways that were even more impossibly catchy.
The best way I can describe this movie is to call it an in-flight movie. It’s something you would watch on a plane; entertaining enough but not an all-time favourite or dramatically memorable remake. Ghostbusters is funny, enjoyable and nothing offensive. From a movie critique point of view, it’s not the greatest, but from the nostalgia point of view it is definitely worth watching.