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