If, hypothetically, something strange was occurring in your neighbourhood, then you might reasonably want to contact someone about the issue. The question is who?
The answer is four women, three of whom are disgraced scientists, operating from above a terrible takeaway. As the only people who believe in ghosts, this underfunded and distinctly amateur outfit is humanity’s last and only line of defence against the restless dead. It has taken me a while to get round to watching the all-female Ghostbusters reboot. I know that all sorts of people had very strong opinions about its conception and quality, often before having seen it. I was pleasantly surprised by this film.
It’s not a direct remake with different actors swapped in, but it is full of links to the previous films – actors turn up in different roles, some settings reappear, there are enough references to make this an homage, but not a copy. The plot shares many of the same broad strokes, but there’s enough new stuff to keep it fresh. That’s not to say that the twists are unexpected, because Ghostbusters has never been a subtle or complex franchise, but they are different twists.
The film really benefits from the advances in CGI over the past thirty-odd years. The original suffered because every ghost looked like puppet or a costume; with new technology, the ghosts can be more convincing and occasionally even genuinely creepy. There are blue swirly lights, half-transparent apparitions, and exotic weaponry galore.
The four main actors are all comedians first and foremost, and it’s good to see them getting action sequences – I figure that they probably don’t get to do that that often, being the action heroes as well as the comic relief. There is a lot of human-ghost combat in the film, and it all flows together well.
Perhaps because the four main actors are comedians, this film is funny. It’s unfair though to place the credit for that solely on them – Chris Hemsworth delivers most of the laughs, an action hero doing comedy, just as the comedians do action. It’s not always my style of humour – American films aimed primarily at children tend to go more earthy than I would like – but the script is filled with jokes, most of which land well.
Inevitably, this film will get compared to the original, and that’s never really going to be fair. At the risk of angering everyone, the first Ghostbusters was not very good. I’m not saying it wasn’t fun, or entertaining or anything else. It was an okay film that happened to catch public emotion at the right time, just like Star Wars or Predator; its enduring popularity is an accident of luck, not due to any especial merit.
Any reboot of a beloved film is always going to be battling against nostalgia to be well-received. There’s also a gender issue there, in that a significant number people who love Ghostbusters (1984) seem to be rather against female actors taking over hallowed roles. Ghostbusters (2016) came in for a lot of hate, and didn’t do as well at the box office as it was perhaps expected to. That’s a shame – to my mind, this is a better film than the original, building on the foundation to create something tighter and more punchy.
I enjoyed this film. While it’s not perfect, it was better than I expected it to be, and definitely better than I had been told it was. It’s a strong cast working with a solid plot, and it manages to be consistently engrossing.