Thursday, 10 March 2016

Some Thoughts About The New 'Ghostbusters' Film.


Ghostbusters is one of my favourite films. It has been for a very long time. The franchise, as a whole, is one that has always appealed to me. Ghostbusters 2, despite not being able to meet the standards set by the original, is still a film that I have always enjoyed - and, the animated series, The Real Ghostbusters (given that title due to some hilariously convoluted rights issues) has always been another of my favourites.

The fact that I never quite managed to find the time to play the video game that came out a few years ago (which reunited much of film's original cast) has become something of a private shame, for me. I've heard nothing but good thing about that game, though - so, I'm still adamant that I want to play it for myself, at some point.

Like so many fans of the franchise, though, my feelings regarding the news of an upcoming reboot have always been rather mixed.

Initially, my issue with the all-female cast of this new movie wasn't with the idea of an 'all-female cast', in itself - but, instead, with the fact that this was, quite literally, the first piece of information we were given about this new movie. The fact that this new team of ghostbusters was going to be made up entirely of women was dropped on us like that fact, alone, was the most important detail - and, I really didn't get the point.

Honestly, it felt like pandering. Like the people behind this new film were trying to appeal to a target demographic who might not have been interested in a new Ghostbusters film, otherwise - while the people who were genuinely interested in a new Ghostbusters film were left scratching their heads, and wondering what the point of all of this was.

I wouldn't go as far as saying that it made me angry, though - that would just be absurd.

Even the announcement of the film's cast didn't do much to sway me in either direction. Of the film's main cast, Melissa McCarthy was the name I was most familiar with - though, even there, I didn't have any particularly strong opinions. I can't honestly call myself her biggest fan - though, I certainly don't dislike her. Regarding the rest of the main cast (Kristin Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones), though, I can't even manage to say that much. Once again, the information we had been given about this new film left me feeling a bit ambivalent.

Though, that being said, the idea that Chris Hemsworth would be cast as the team's receptionist did, at least, manage to feel like a genuinely amusing addition to the deliberate 'gender-swapping' that we started with. It was like finally hearing the punch-line to a long, and drawn-out, joke and being forced to admit that, actually, it was pretty funny.

What I really wanted, though, was the see some actual footage from the new film. So now, with two separate trailers for this new film recently being released, it seems that I finally have my chance to form an actual opinion about this new Ghostbusters. Unfortunately, though, it seems that my opinion, so far, is that I'm just not overly impressed.

Tonally, the style of comedy that this new film seems to be going for is, simply, too different from the original for comfort. The original film was built on a somewhat outlandish premise, sure - but, it still managed to take that premise somewhat seriously. Ghostbusters was often a very funny film, but that humour always felt character driven. It was the way in which these eccentric characters responded to the strange situations that they found themselves in, more than anything, that made those original films funny - while the situations, themselves, occasionally drifted closer to genuine 'horror' (even the appearance of the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man, toward the end of the first film, counts as a purely character-driven moment of absurdity, when you remember that it was Ray's fault that form was chosen).

Here, though, the footage that we have, in each of two trailers, seems to suggest a style of comedy that leans much more heavily toward overt slapstick. That's troubling for me, personally, for the very simple reason that I've just never been a fan of that sort of comedy, in general. It can work well enough in some contexts, sure - but, it's not really what I want from a Ghostbusters film. That moment, featured prominently in both trailers, in which a ghost projectile vomits a stream of slime over Kristin Wiig's character would have to be the most frustrating example of this. Sure, it seemed intended to parallel that moment from the original film when Bill Murrey's own encounter with the odd little blob that would eventually becoming known as 'Slimer' resulted in him being similarly coated - but, the way that it was presented, here, felt crass and a little juvenile.

So, I have to admit that I'm a little worried, on that front. But, at the same time, there were visual aspects of the two trailers that I was quite happy with. The design of the ghosts, themselves, is impressive. They are clearly designed to be outlandish in a way that fits with what we had in the original films while, at the same time, making the most of what is currently possible with CGI - so, in that regard, I quite like what I saw. Those too-brief shots we had of ghosts in Time Square, in particular, has me convinced that this film will be able to offer up an entertaining spectacle, at least. Also, while much of the humour in the in the two trailers fell flat, I do have to admit that the final gag from the 'International' trailer, regarding potential designs of the team's logo, actually did work, for me - it might have been the only genuine laugh I got out of both trailers, but that still counts for something.

So, unfortunately, it seems that my feelings toward this new Ghostbusters film are going to remain somewhat mixed, even after finally being able to see some actual footage. Given the choice, though, I would still much prefer that this turn out to be a perfectly entertaining film that just isn't being promoted very well, as opposed to it turning out to be a complete failure. I want another good Ghostbusters film, even if it's one that doesn't include the original characters - so, for that reason, I'm still set on giving this film a chance when it is released. But, at this point, my expectations still aren't very high.

You can watch the first trailer here (Click Me!), and the 'International' trailer here (Click Me!).

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