Well this isn’t going to win me any friends, it is? Here I am, posting my first blog about the most divisive blockbuster of 2016: a film which upset many for being a remake of a beloved Eighties comedy with a female-led cast. But the problem here isn’t the female cast – it’s the material within.
Dr Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a lecturer at the prestigious Columbia University in New York. Hers is a role which requires the utmost dignity and discretion, so a belief in anything make-believe such as, say, ghosts would see her fired. Unfortunately for Erin, her friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) continues to promote and sell copies of a book they co-wrote: “Ghosts Are Real”.
After being exposed for their beliefs, both Erin and Abby are fired from their respective jobs. Which is just as well really, since there is also an increase in supernatural activity around New York. Sensing a business opportunity, Erin and Abby start a paranormal investigative firm – with the help of Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) and an Australian receptionist, Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) – to prove that ghosts are indeed real.
Doing a remake of any film is difficult, but I don’t think that the producers were expecting the vitriol they would receive when the first Ghostbusters trailer received over one million dislikes on YouTube. Some say it was because the trailer wasn’t funny, others because it was an unnecessary remake, and others still because the main characters had been recast with women.
And what of the actresses portraying the new Ghostbusters, one may ask. Well, they’re a mixed bag. The characters of Holtzmann and Patty are loveable, bringing great charm and energy into the crew; Erin and Abby, meanwhile, aren’t nearly as funny as they should be, despite being played by two very talented comediennes. That said, the four work well together and look like they’re enjoying themselves.
Chris Hemsworth is having fun as well, but his character seems to have two personality traits: he’s handsome, and he’s a buffoon, which is fine for the first five minutes he’s on-screen, but after that Kevin is just an annoyance. Beyond that, the only other praise that can be offered is the climax, which is more thrilling and action-packed than the two previous Ghostbusters films.
Which begs the question: if that is all I can recommend, why watch this version over the 1984 version? The older film is far funnier, more evenly paced, has better editing and a group of unique, endearing characters. In this film, the cameos and nods to the original – pleasing as they are – just had me yearning to go home and watch the original feature on DVD.
This doesn’t mean that 2016’s Ghostbusters is bad, rather it fails to live up to the reputation of its forefather. As wonderful as the female cast is, what they really need is a better script to bring out their best work.