Ghostbusters: On Our Own, by Rudie Obias
Since 1989, Dan Aykroyd and Ivan Reitman have been trying to bring another Ghostbusters into theaters. The pair found very little success with writing a good enough script and getting the team back together with Bill Murray very resistant to return to the franchise. However, in early 2015, Columbia Pictures announced the Ghostbusters would be rebooted with an all-female lineup and Paul Feig in the director’s chair. The end result features a lot of laughs and genuine scary moments, but falls short of capturing the same “lightning in a bottle” that the original Ghostbusters created in 1984.
The film follows Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), a pair of scientist who started off their careers as specialists in paranormal activity. Over the years, Gilbert moved towards legitimate science, while Yates kept up with investigating ghosts and unexplained phenomenon with her partner, Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon). When Gilbert and Yates reunite after a number of ghost sightings in New York City, they start a business with former MTA-worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), who turns to the scientists after she encounters a ghost in a subway tunnel, to further investigate why the city is a hot bed for the paranormal.
Ghostbusters feels like it belongs in the franchise as a clever comedy with a touch of horror. However, it also seems to be middling when it comes to constructing a smooth story. It really feels like everyone involved was hamstrung into making fans happy, as if the backlash really did get to them. Time and time again, the movie gets in the way of itself when it shoehorns in a number of references to the original. This is called “fan service” and it hurts the new Ghostbusters when it comes to its storytelling.
Why can’t movies just be movies? Why do reboots and sequels have to keep paying tribute to what came before it? Why does a franchise movie like Ghostbusters continuously “wink and nod” to a fan base instead of paving its own path? The most frustrating part of watching Ghostbusters is when the story and laughs have to stop, so Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and the rest of the original cast can appear on screen to wink at the audience. Afterwards, the story and comedy have to re-start and move forward, only to stop again for the next cameo and reference. Although Paul Feig has been brilliant in balancing laugh-out-loud moments with heartfelt ones, Ghostbusters suffers from constant fan service.
One of the things that the movie does best is its ensemble comedy surrounding the wonderful chemistry with the cast, including Chris Hemsworth, who plays the Ghostbusters inept assistant Kevin, and Andy Garcia, who plays the Mayor of New York. However, the real star of the movie is Kate McKinnon as nuclear engineer Holtzmann. From the moment she’s introduced on the screen, the character practically steals every scene she’s in with unexpected cleverness and wit.
Ghostbusters is a goofy reboot that really uses its 3D formatting to good use. The new movie is presented with an IMAX 3D option, which takes advantage of the format. Images popped out of the frame to give a complete experience, as it were coming alive in front of you. Feig and cinematographer Robert Yeoman really take advantage of 3D, while playing around with what we expect from blockbuster filmmaking. It’s quite impressive!
The new Ghostbusters isn’t as tight as the original but it does have flourishes of real subversive comedy. The cast and filmmakers really play with audience expectations but unfortunately they do not fully realize the potential of what they can do.