I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghosts: Ghostbusters (2016) Review

Ghostbusters_2016_film_poster
Ghostbusters film poster (x)

Ghostbusters, a supernatural comedy first released in 1984 was one of the most successful comedies of its time, with a sequel following in 1989.  Its reboot was announced at the end of 2014, with news of a female cast revealed a few months later.  I saw it on the 8th of August, a few weeks after it had opened and the majority of all the fuss had died down.

I went into the film with both high and low expectations.  High because everyone I know says it’s a great film, with a great cast and humour alike.  And low, because at this point any female-centric film that doesn’t sexualise the actresses is just destined to be my new favourite film.  I was optimistic it would live up to my high hopes.

As a decidedly feminist film, Ghostbusters has attracted a large volume of criticism and mindless hate, mostly from men.  It’s sad to say but men seem to feel threatened by a film that treats the women as characters and not sex objects.  Here I would like to add that the new Wonder Woman film (starring Gal Godot, scheduled for 2017) has not received nearly as much online pre-release vitriol as Ghostbusters.  I wonder why on earth that could possibly be.

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Wonder Woman teaser poster (x)

On the train to meet my friend to watch the film, I was thinking about how it could improve on the disappointing way women are treated in action, hero or paranormal films.  I am wary of building up things like this too much, as they inevitably end in disappointment.

Well, let me tell you I was definitely not disappointed.

This Ghostbusters reboot is brilliant.  It’s funny, enjoyable, witty and it’s a triumph of modern reboots.  It’s a film that celebrates female achievement and friendship, something that is woefully lacking in modern cinema.  It brings some of the ridiculousness from the first two films and injects its own humour into it.  Most of the cinema barely stopped laughing while watching it.  I left with an aching face and stomach muscles.

Directed by Paul Feig, who also shares writing credit with Katie Dippold (the estate agent), it’s excellent from start to finish.  I was even enthusing over the colours, that’s how good it was (also, I study cinema, I can’t help it).

The characters were perfectly cast.  Kate McKinnon’s gleeful performance was exemplary as Jillian Holtzmann.  I could tell you everything I loved about her but then this would turn into an ode to Holtz.  A funny, confident, offbeat engineer, and creator of all the cool gadgets, Holtz is my favourite Ghostbuster.  Let’s leave it at “I want to be her when I grow up”.  Melissa McCarthy appears as Abby, the funny parapsychologist scientist responsible for the formation of the Ghostbusters.  Leslie Jones is Patty Tolan, the tough subway worker with an extremely useful, expansive knowledge of the city as well as fab hair.  And finally, Kristen Wiig plays the sensible physicist trying to put her paranormal past behind her.  Together they make a kick-arse team of awesome ladies.

With Chris Hemsworth as Kevin, the secretary, they flip the “dumb blonde” stereotype.  For anyone who thinks Kevin’s character is unbelievable or weird, try telling that to the women who have had to put up with being reduced to stupid, sex symbol secretaries for years.  Hemsworth puts in a great performance as well, especially towards the end.

It’s got something for everyone – comedy, casual horror, adult humour, awesome and relatable characters, great score.  I wouldn’t recommend it for young children or people who have issues with jumpscares, but pretty much anyone else without a sexist agenda should enjoy it.  Several of the first film’s cast make appearances, as does one rockstar.

And there’s absolutely no romance!  Don’t worry, although women make up the majority of the characters, luckily none of them are shoved into a relationship.  It’s not a romance film, and the presence of women does not necessitate romantic or sexual relationships.  That especially made me happy.

The score (composed by Theodore Shapiro) is fantastic.  It wonderfully accentuated the action Possibly the best part is Battle Of Times Square and how it amplified the already excellent scene with Holtzmann (no spoilers).  The next day, I put it on my Amazon wishlist.  It definitely made a lasting impression on me.

As for the soundtrack, the lowest point for me was Five Seconds Of Summer’s Girls Talk Boys.  The song sticks out, mostly for its lyrics about a relationship – I fail to see how cos every night you and I find ourselves/Kissing and touching like no one else fits in with a film with a distinct lack of relationships, especially when the film refuses to reduce the women to helpless love interests.  I mean, it certainly has the repetition of Ray Parker Jr’s song, but not much else to redeem it.  Personally, I feel it ruined the cohesiveness of the soundtrack as a whole.  The next song, wHo by Zayn, while retaining the “who you gonna call” of the original Ghostbusters, seemed to me to be a bit too “male hero”.  The lyric you know that I’ll save you sort of undermines the message of the film.  The Ghostbusters did not need to be saved by a man so I don’t know how the song adds to it.  Also the inclusion of DMX’s Party Up was very confusing to me as I can’t see the reasoning for it.

However, the standout track is the cover of Ghostbusters by Walk The Moon.  Distinctly a modern take on the 198. version, it’s a feelgood .  Muddy Magnolias’ American Woman is an exaltation of independent women and I do it just because you said I can’t embodies the film so perfectly.  The official soundtrack is interesting as it includes four renditions of the theme song.  Pentatonix contribute a very interesting acapella song which is very well done. Fall Out Boy ft. Missy Elliot deliver a modernised interpretation that stays true to their sound and works effectively with the film.  Ray Parker Jr.’s is no less pleasant.  The 80s feeling is continued with Rhythm of the Night, as performed by DeBarge (not Devo ;)).  Wolf Alice’s eerie Ghoster is a great addition and a new addition to my playlist.  I’m afraid I have to disagree with Patty, I really liked Beast Of Mayhem’s music. Those who liked what they saw onscreen, never fear, Want Some More is on the soundtrack.  There’s not much to say other than I think the song worked in the theatre scenes as well as on the soundtrack.  Mark Ronson, Passion Pit & A$AP Ferg’s offering of GET GHOST is a thoroughly enjoyable song which incorporates elements of the 1984 version.  The music in and associated with the film manages to update it while still maintaining some of the original spirit (ayyy).

So Ghostbusters was not the spectacular failure its critics hoped it would be.  In fact, I would rate it the second best film this year, after Captain America: Civil War (sorry, Deadpool).  Its naysayers are unfairly harsh.  It also teaches little girls that they can be heroes too, they can be scientists and engineers and physicists and funny and the leads of action films.  That’s a powerful thing.  Representation is everything.

Anyway.  The gist of this review is to tell you Ghostbusters is amazing, go watch it!  Get the DVD when it comes out, support it, let the producers know we want a sequel.  If we want more awesome feminist media, we have to make sure people know there’s an audience for it.  We have to be vocal, otherwise it’s very unlikely people will pay attention.  It is a great film, undeserving of all the hate it got, and I hope more films like it are made.

 

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