Review: ‘Ghostbusters’ Remake Electrifies as Worthy Successor

"Ghostbusters" (2016) - Movie Review

‘Ghostbusters’ is By Far the Surprise of the Summer

Reboots and remakes are a delicate subject amongst moviegoers. For those who grew up with the original, seeing their beloved stories retooled with a new cast or premise can certainly fuel plenty of frustration and rage. Then again, is it the worst thing in the world to put a different spin on an existing property? Remember, for every Clash of the Titans or Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla, we have been graced with a Star Trek or Batman Begins. But where does the Ghostbusters reboot fall?

While Ghostbusters has been ingrained in pop culture for over 30 years, this latest version takes the formula we’ve come to know and turns our expectations on its head ever so slightly. In this reboot, Kristin Wiig plays Erin, a reputable college professor up for tenure with a few skeletons in her closet as a paranormal investigator. She’s forced back into the ghost hunt when asked to research a local historical site that’s haunted. In doing so, she’s joined by her old partner and writing collaborator, Abby (Melissa McCarthy) and kooky engineer Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). That’s just the start of some classic ghostbusting.

Ghostbusters follows the same beats as the first film with just enough tether to carve out its own identity from the first two films. The team bounces from site to site investigating the paranormal as the trend of spectral entities continues to grow. The first few adventures work the best as the trio, later joined by a street-smart Leslie Jones, try to get their feet wet and work together as a cohesive unit. But it’s not truly complete until Jones completes the set. The trailer depicted her as loud and obnoxious, but the outbursts are few and far between.

If Ghostbusters succeeds at anything, it’s finding the pitch-perfect chemistry amongst the four leads. Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon and Jones are a well-oiled unit with each having their purpose. Wiig’s mild-mannered Erin always butts heads with McCarthy’s gung-ho Abby, who’s the real believer of the group. But just like the quartet of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson, you couldn’t ask for better chemistry. However, McKinnon steals the film, amusing with ease as the cartoonish Holtzmann. She’s a riot and a badass without breaking a sweat.

For the most part, the humor is on the nose and that’s thanks to the writing by Paul Feig and Katie Dippold, who nail the comedy. One doesn’t expect any less from Feig, especially after his riotous trifecta of Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy. Some of the jokes may not hit as strong as those in Bridesmaids or Spy, but that doesn’t chip away at the fact that Ghostbusters is still a bundle of ghostly comedy. McCarthy can even make a running gag about wonton soup click. But the only exception is Chris Hemworth as their dim-witted receptionist, Kevin. His string of idiocy gets old rather fast.

Despite an overkill of forced references to the first two films, the first 80 minutes of Ghostbusters is sheer delight. And everything was oozing with enjoyment minus the villain is without a doubt the biggest caricature to the franchise. We actually had a worthy addition to the Ghostbusters franchise, even if the previous films don’t take place in this new timeline. The biggest problem facing this film is an overblown CGI showdown at the end and a bloated narrative. The visuals in 1984 and 1989 were more welcoming with less developed technology. It’s the same problem Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was saddled with earlier this year.

And even with all the controversy surrounding the film, the gender reversal is hardly a distraction here or a negative for that matter. They’re Ghostbusters, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter male or female, these women click. Feig and Dippold’s screenplay even pokes fun at the negativity as they start reading nasty comments on YouTube about the whole gender issue. It’s a nice slap in the face to those who turned this into a big deal.

While the concept of rebooting Ghostbusters may have turned people away from the get-go, don’t feel any shame firing up those proton packs for a third time and enjoying what is one of the most surprising films of the summer. While we never got an actual Ghostbusters III, we have a Ghostbusters for a new generation that hangs with the older ones.

Written by
Matt Marshall has been reviewing films since 2003, starting with "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." He specializes in home media, including 4K UHD, Blu-ray as well as box office analysis. He has a B.A. in Communications/Journalism from St. John Fisher College and resides in Rochester, NY.

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