- July 15th, 2016, 2:39 pm
Continued from previous post.
This Review Contains Spoilers!
While the 2016 reboot has adopted some lessons employed by The Force Awakens last year, it has also tried to bring in some new content which isn't derived from the original.
During the course of the movie we get a good look into the development, testing and evolution of the equipment, and for the first time in the films, we're shown how other members of the paranormal investigation community respond to the arrival and escapades of the Ghostbusters.
One of the strongest story elements at the heart of the 2016 film is friendship, and while the few moments of genuine discord from the 1984 offering were left on the cutting room floor, in the reboot they're front and center as Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Abby (Melissa McCarthy) first confront each other after spending years apart, and with their friendship on the rocks. While their friendship endures a few more bumps and strong disagreements during the course of the film, by the end credits it emerges stronger, thanks to the experiences from the battle against Rowan, its aftermath, and the vindication not just of their theories by of their efforts to save New York.
With Patty (Leslie Jones), it became clear that her character had suffered the most due to the early trailers, which had condensed her character to a shouting, angry stereotype. And while there are a scattering of moments where she lives up to initial impression, for the greater part of the film she proves insightful, and even helpful with her knowledge of New York's history, and her quickly-growing loyalty to her oddball teammates. In contrast to the original film, as Patty is introduced earlier into the plot than Ernie Hudson's Winston, she feels like an equal member of the team much sooner.
Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) will either end up being some watchers's favorite character, or least favorite, depending on their experience. Her eccentricity is consistent throughout, and often very strong, making her an incredibly memorable character from the reboot. McKinnon's delivery of the character shines brightest when in her technological element, but there are scenes where she's more reserved that help to diversify her performance.
Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) is another character with whom we've been given a reasonably accurate idea of how he'll be in the full film. While his character will prove divisive, he does end up being memorable, stealing a number of the scenes that he features in, and these will likely help establish his range as a comedic actor, building on 2015's National Lampoon's Vacation reboot.
Ed Mulgrave (Ed Begley Jr.) was a brief, but fun character role from the veteran actor, playing the Aldridge Mansion historian.
On the topic of visuals, this is where the reboot will shine. There are a lot of varied ghost designs in the film, most of which are visually impressive and vivid in color. The scene starting with the Times Square transformation and following battle sequence is one of the best moments in the entire film (benefiting also from the music) and the proton streams are as energetic and colorful as they should be, as we remember them to be.
As for the music, Theodore Shapiro's score presents an appropriate level of scale for the smaller, more personable scenes between the core cast members, and then builds up for the action and busting sequences. Of particular note were the little orchestral teases of the classic Ghostbusters theme song by Ray Parker Jr., which build up to something very special in the battle of Times Square.
The commercial music is used sparingly through the film, and even though there are three separate versions of the Ghostbusters theme (including Ray Parker Jr.'s original), they fitted the scenes they were used in, and helped set the tone.
While Ghostbusters has plenty of strengths, it does also have some prominent flaws.
The first, and one of the biggest flaws will be the trailers, in aiming to set the tone of the film and its characters, the trailers have done an absolutely terrible job. Employing footage which has subsequently been cut, editing and butchering the dialogue, they've presented a warped narrative and made the characters more stereotypical and less likable than they actually are.
Rowan (Neil Casey) does suffer from a lack of character development, becoming a stock Hollywood villain, bitter at the world for how he's been treated. It is the understanding of this reviewer that the tie-in books to the film reveal more details about Rowan's past, and depending on their execution, his character could have benefited from their inclusion.
Mayor Bradley (Andy Garcia) will prove to be one of the biggest disappointments, as it soon becomes apparent that he is an incompetent buffoon, and a sad waste of a talented actor.
Jennifer Lynch (Cecily Strong), serving as the Mayor's aid, proved to be least likable character in the reboot, and not for the reasons that were likely intended. While Lynch's character comes off as abrasive, slimy, unlikable and a bit of a bitch, Strong's delivery felt awkward, resulting in a poor imitation of the superior Walter Peck (William Atherton).
The dance sequence, which had proven as a point of concern for many in the run up to the film has thankfully been removed from the main plot, but does play out during the end credits, leaving the impression that it should have been left on the cutting floor entirely.
The film will also suffer from the same criticism that affected The Force Awakens: that it is too similar in points of the plot to a previous installment in the franchise.
Additional, though smaller criticisms include some plot holes - not gigantic, but enough to upset the flow or story a little, as well as some continuity issues with some of the skyline shots and the equipment and uniforms.
Despite its flaws however, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call had a convincing feel of friendship, good camaraderie between the four Ghostbusters, great visuals and music, fun cameos and references, and a lot of promise. The reboot universe has gotten off to a rocky start, with much controversy, but if they can iron out the wrinkles... should Feig and his cast be given a sequel, they might be able improve on both the bad points and the good.
A final note, while sticking around for the scene at the end of the credits, keep your eyes open for an additional tribute to Harold Ramis, and to Ryan Kemp, a Ghostbusters fan who sadly passed away late last year.