Ghostbusters (2016) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

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Ghostbusters 2016


Directed by Paul Fieg • Written by Katie Dippold & Paul Fieg


With Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth


The rule should be, you either reboot and make an original story based on the established premise, or, continue what came before, but with a new adventure. Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters does neither. It’s a remake that copies the narrative blueprint of Ivan Reitman’s 1984 horror-comedy classic, play for play, relying on updated effects and an all new team to supposedly reinvent things we already know and love.

The internet made a huge ectoplasmic stink about the validity of an all-female ghostbusting team, being so distracted as to barely notice Sony’s plan to reset the franchise as if 1984 never happened – a plan with the bare-faced temerity to plagiarise at almost every turn. As it is, the women are the best aspect, having fun while working for each other to give their best amid a story that has few original ideas of its own.

It’s sometimes said we shouldn’t compare remakes or sequels with the source of their inspiration, but I’d be more inclined to assess this incarnation on its own merits if it wasn’t constantly going out of its way to remind us of Reitman’s original. It wouldn’t take long to write out a checklist of things they recall, including cast members from the original film regularly popping up in random, tacked on roles that aren’t funny, reinforcing an empty feeling of what might have been.

Whatever the reasons for it never happening, it’s hard to escape the nagging disappointment that Ghostbusters 3 never got the green light. Though it plays well as a harmlessly throwaway family comedy, this shiny new Ghostbusters only serves to highlight how good the original film was. Somehow, with Feig in the chair (a man best known for his adult-themed comedy), everything is much safer and cleaner. In Reitman’s film, everyone smokes and swears (there’s even ghost-on-human fellatio) – here it’s sanitised, cleaning out the grubbiness and replacing it with colourful CGI and overly-staged silliness.

Musically, there’s a brief snippet of Ray Parker Jnr’s iconic song, before its massacred by a thudding Fall Out Boy cover version halfway through. The score doesn’t achieve the same symbiosis as Elmer Berstein’s classic, flitting between generic action music that fails to invite intrigue or suspense. There’s an empty sense the film largely exists in the name of making money – a movie-making by committee attempt to force feed a new Ghostbusters franchise.

Little of what we see feels genuinely organic. It has the sense of something that wants to be embraced, but in doing that, refuses to sidestep its responsibilities in being a ‘Ghostbusters’ movie. Ultimately, the attempt to please everyone spreads its attributes too thinly, leaving a shell of a film that provides temporary fun youngsters, but not nearly enough for everyone else. 2.5/5

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About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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6 Responses to Ghostbusters (2016) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. brettmkane says:

    Aside from hardly a single joke landing, I think it was the film’s polished sheen that bothered me the most, as well. It was so sanitized and unoriginal, while the 1984 film had a certain level of grittiness in its effects. I’m with you, Gareth – if you’re going to reboot a franchise, improve it, don’t remake it.

    • garethrhodes says:

      It’s just plain lazy. Great point about the polished sheen – I disliked that too. It didn’t have the same organic feel as Reitman’s original and the pointless cameos irritated me.

  2. It’s old news by now, but I’m in the vast minority that really loved this movie. I think it has its audience, really. My family is one known for thinking immature jokes are the funniest thing ever, so it was right up our alley. My 15 year old sister saw it twice, even, she loved it so much. In fact, I bought it on Bluray and just watched it yesterday since I wanted to watch a movie that was light and fun.

    That said, as far as film making goes, yeah, it’s not great.

    I just don’t really care it’s not great, because it’s great FUN in my taste.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I love your response! It’s partly why film discussion continues to be a fascinating subject to me. There’s never really a wrong or right. Sure, we all have our opinions and feelings toward things, but rather than reacting negatively about that, we should always take the opportunity to try and see things from another persons perspective. I respect that you enjoyed this for the pure fun it has, and I can see why it might work as an easy-going piece of light entertainment. In truth, I wanted to love it – I wanted it to be on a par with the original, just to put a massive gag around the mouths of the racist, misogynistic filth that found its way onto the Internet during the films pre-release. But sadly, I couldn’t get out of first gear with it. I found that it went out of its way to remind me of the 1984 film – almost forcing me to make a constant comparison. I love the girls, and am first in line for anything starring Kristen Wiig, but I couldn’t fight away the disappointment here. Great to hear from you though Chelsea, maybe the sequel will have us more in agreement.

  3. Excellent review! When I heard that they were remaking this movie, I was just as shocked as the rest of the world. Not because of the decision to make the Ghostbusters female, but because there was absolutely nothing wrong with the two movies we already had.

    After months of skepticism, I finally decided to watch this movie. And while I did chuckle a few times at some of the gags (especially those involving Kate Mc Kinnon), some others just fell flat. As for the multiple cameos of former “Ghostbusters” cast members, it just made me wistful for the original movies.

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