- October 12th, 2019, 9:14 pm
So here I come in 3 years after the movie comes out and finally having seen it. I'll admit, I went into it a bit biased thanks to reviewers and the drama surrounding it, but I tried to remain impartial. I'm fairly certain a lot of these points have been brought up by others in this thread before, so I apologize if I'm opening old wounds or beating a dead horse. And while I'd call myself a fan, I'm not what you'd call a die-hard fan of Ghostbusters. I like too many things to really dedicate myself to any one hobby or franchise (and frankly I think if you do delve down that rabbit hole far enough that's when things can get a bit scary).
Overall impression? I didn't love it, I didn't hate it. I think I came out of it disappointed. There were things that I really liked and I saw potential, but other things just soured it. But I do want to at least point out some of the things I liked about this movie.
The early proton pack: I do like that their first foray into the field isn't with the final wearable packs like in the first film, but with a big clunky awkward thing on a cart. That made it more believable to me and it made for a nice progression; prototype leads to better prototype. None of them seemed too concerned that the nuclear device got struck by a train but eh.
The Ecto-1: A hearse is a great vehicle to be an Ecto-1, and certainly more realistic to find these days. Though honestly I probably would've been happy with an old UPS van as well.
Leslie Jones: Patty was probably my favorite character in the entire film, and I really liked her role in the group; while the others were the science experts she knew all about the history of the city, where as in the original movie that fell more to Ray - and Winston was just a hired hand. I found her the most believable (IE: nope not going into the room full of mannequins) and the most endearing.
The Chinese Restaurant: Yup, I liked that location, and it makes sense from a modern perspective. No way they'd be able to afford the firehouse, they've all been fired (well except for Patty but whatevs). It made for an interesting location with some nice set pieces.
Onto the fixes.
1st fix: The script gets another looking over, bring in a script doctor, whatever. In general I thought the script was pretty solid, but it failed in a few areas. There was a bit too much crass / gross out humour, though I know the original wasn't without it's crassness, like Ray's erotic ghost dream or Peter's sailor comment - perhaps I'm being unfair in judging these elements too harshly. In general it seems like lines about characters crapping their pants, eating Pringles, etc. - they just weren't necessary. But of course a lot of that comes to my second fix....
2nd fix: Less improv, more practiced dialogue. I generally don't really like improv comedies, they tend to have a lot of people talking over each other and pop culture references. When the busters are being interviewed by the cop about Bill Murray's demise, that was painful. I really don't see how they didn't get arrested there. Improv can lead to some great witty dialogue, but it seems like it was less building on a script and more "and you say something aaaaaaaand action" style direction. I know that the characters are nerds and we geeks love to babble but it was a bit much at times. And it leads to failures. Like McCarthy's line about Rowan getting his virginity from the lost and found - I'm legit surprised that made it into the final cut because it's so bad and makes no sense. Or again, McCarthy's line about the Dean spelling science with a "y" and that he doesn't know that it's wrong - if he knew it was wrong, why would he spell it that way?
3rd fix: Ghost Chasers / Bill Murray's character. Both of these were great potential story elements that were wasted. Murray's character should have been an ongoing antagonist during the GB's rise - that would give Kristen Wiig's character actual incentive to want to prove their legitimacy to him, that he's been a thorn in their side for awhile or they have some past connection. Establish him as a skeptic beyond one segment before he appears on their doorstep. As for the ghost hunters shows, wouldn't that have made for a great plot point if they were both inspecting the same place and calling each other frauds?
4th fix: the Montage. In both the original Ghostbusters and the 2016 film we really only see them capture one ghost before they fight the big bad (by all means correct me if I'm wrong), but the original has a montage sequence of the GBs responding to and coming from various calls, appearing on late night tv, etc. That's how we know that they become part of NY's consciousness and are gaining a reputation. In the 2016 movie they catch 1 ghost in the entire film, and then end up saving the city. The montage also implies a fair bit of time has passed between the start of their business and the events that lead to Peck shutting off the containment unit, etc., where as the 2016 movie it feels like only a week has passed between the GB's starting their own business to saving the day. And how long had Rowan been planning this? It only took 5 decides plus his basement thing to break the barrier, and he got it done in a week? Well it's a good thing Erin found out about Aby's book when she did - if a few weeks or a month had passed Rowan would have succeeded before they even knew anything was happening.
5th fix: The upgrades. These came way too early in the film. At this point they'd only caught one ghost and Holtzmann is already got 4-5 new toys to play with. These really should have come about as a response to something, them meeting a threat they couldn't defeat and having to retreat, only for Holtzmann to reveal some very dangerous prototypes she'd been toying with, or hell just slapping stuff together out of necessity and hoping they'd work.
6th fix: Hitting below the belt. Okay, we know from the leaked emails that Sony intentionally tries to skew things to make criticism of the film a gender-related issue. But there were some lines there that really felt ham-fisted. The comment on their Youtube video or the "you shoot like girls" comment, without the context of the drama outside the movie, was funny on it's own - the drama soured that for me but I recognize that if I went into this blind it wouldn't have. But lines like "warning lights are for dudes" or shooting a ghost in the crotch and such just seem so blunt, like they're put in there intentionally as if to say "this is what people are mad about, isn't that dumb?" when that wasn't why most people who disliked the film felt that way.
7th: The mayor and his assistant. Their acting was pretty bad, total ham. Like frontpage of Youtube "content creators" bad. They needed to dial it down a notch. Steve Higgins' flipping the bird bit really should have been cut as well to be honest, it wasn't funny.
8th: Dance sequence goes back into the main film. Yes it's silly and dumb, but that segment is just as silly and dumb without it (and Patty's line would still work since they'd be arriving after it was all said and done).
9th: Kevin. Oh Kevin. Why are you so dumb Kevin? No one in the original GB was this dumb. As much as we dislike Peck he wasn't dumb, he had logical reasons to do what he did. I think his character could have been a bit naive or awkward, but really he was dumb as a box of rocks and that doesn't really make for an endearing character.
Aaaaaaaaand that's about it. I honestly believe that it would have only taken a few changes to make the movie go from alright to good, and only a few more to make it great. That's what made it so disappointing; there were so many easy and cheap fixes that someone chose not to do. Whether it was because they didn't care, or weren't challenged by others, I don't know. But I feel the movie suffers because of it.
I really have no idea what I'm doing.