Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig & Kate McKinnon
Synopsis: Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzman and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.
Rating: 12A Duration: 116 minutes Release date: 11 July (UK)
If we’re being honest, it would perhaps be fair to say that Ghostbusters was a film that needn’t have been remade. The original 1984 film is a bona-fide classic that made stars out of the likes of Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Bill Murray et al, while creating a film that would last through the ages. Step forward 32 years and Ghostbusters has become the latest in a long line of films that is being remade, rebooted or whatever you want to call it. And yet, despite being deemed unnecessary by some and genuinely shit on by others before its release, Ghostbusters 2016 is a genuinely funny film, lovingly made and smartly acted.
Starting in a similar fashion to the original, Ghostbusters kicks off with a member of staff at the Aldrich Mansion who tricks customers into believing the mansion to be haunted, but soon finds himself experiencing a fright of his own. Meanwhile Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is trying her best to not get fired from her job at Columbia University after a book she published with Abby Yates some years ago has found its way online and into the public conscious. The book; Ghosts From Our Past is something Erin has being trying to keep secret for years because, obviously, scientists don’t believe in ghosts. After hearing of the incident at the Aldrich Mansion Abby and Erin, along with the wonderful Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) decide to investigate.
After declaring that ghosts are real, the three lose their jobs and embark on setting up a business of their own. With the help of street-wise subway worker Patty; the excellent Leslie Jones, the Ghostbusters are formed. So far it all seems very close to the original, and in many ways it is. But there is something different about Ghostbusters 2016. The story hits similar notes to the original, but despite the familiarity, director Paul Feig has built a film that is lovingly devoted to its source while also breaking off and doing things its own way. It’s commendable that Paul Feig had the balls to step up and direct Ghostbusters, with such weight and expectation put upon it, it would be more than understandable if he had passed this one by.
Instead Feig has steered this ship from the very beginning and ensured that we were given the best film possible. It’s been 28 years since the Ghostbusters were last on our screens and there have been various attempts at bringing them back, with none of them making it past the ideas stage. As much as the online community wanted everyone to dislike the film, an all female reboot makes perfect sense. It is 2016 after all and the idea of a female led blockbuster should not be shocking anyone. Unfortunately we live in the social media age, where everyone’s voice can be heard for better or worse. Facing such venom seems to have galvanised Feig and his cast and the results are better than expected.
Despite some relatively mixed trailers, Ghostbusters is a hugely funny film. Granted, not every joke hits the mark, but there are a huge amount of laughs to be had. It’s also notable how much energy is being spent by the main cast. Each brings a likeability to their roles, while they bounce around from scene to scene as if these are the roles they have dreamed of playing all their lives. It’s a kinetic energy that bubbles in each scene, further adding to the fun being had by everyone. Of particular pleasure is the presence of loveable idiot and receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) as he blunders his way through the film poking his eye, failing to answer the phone and completely botching his interview, only to be hired anyway.
The clear stand-outs however are McKinnon and Jones. McKinnon has an easy charm and quirky nature, that puts her into the same league as Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman; stealing scenes verbally and visually. Jones, made to look like she has a lesser role in the trailers, has a lot more to do than was perceived and makes what could have been a secondary role very much an integral part of the team. The cast is rounded out with a supporting cast who all get their share of funny lines, the only disappointment being the films villain; Rowan (Neil Casey) who never carries much in the way of menace or intrigue and his machinations never rise above the fact he’s never been very popular.
With any reboot there will be a backlash from people who claim to be “true fans” of the original, and perhaps the more level-headed fans will have a few genuine concerns over the direction of any attempt to remake a favourite, but they need not worry. No, Ghostbusters isn’t perfect, there are some pacing issues, it loses its way in the middle, the new theme is terrible and the ending may seem too familiar. But, it is clearly fond of the original, the cameos from the old team are amusing and there is an overwhelming amount of fun to be had here, which is something we desperately need more of.