So for Halloween this year I decided to buy some popcorn and settle down to watch the original Ghostbusters film. As I was sorting things out and getting ready and with the knowledge that the clocks were going to be going back that night I also brought the new Ghostbusters from Sky stores.
Now I had never watched the new movie and to be honest up until now had no intention to. This wasn’t just because I had heard bad things about the movie which pout me off. I always prefer to make up my own mind and I was a fan of Ghostbusters. I like both movies and the original cartoon series. I had the figures, the toy proton pack (and also one I made a few years ago for a fancy dress party) I collected all the weekly comics when I was a kid although I got rid of them several years ago and I still have a Ghostbusters story book that was a Christmas gift back in the 80’s.
Neither was my reluctance was in any way due to the recasting of the Busters nor that the cast was all female. No I just on general don’t like remakes of things that I love form my childhood. Dukes of Hazard is one such example. I loved the show but the new movie sucked and I think this is in some parts due to the fact that they always seem to want to make remakes as all out comedies. Starsky and Hutch seems to be another movie that did this.
Now I understand that Ghostbusters were basically two films and not a series and in itself was a comedy but what I found about the original was that it was mainly subtle comedy. Peter Venkman is clearly the smart Alec and the others have comedy moments that comes as in Egon’s case his quirky character or in Ray Stanz’s case his reactions to the situations around him. But for the most part they play their roles in a believable way. It’s not slapstick but the comedy comes out of the lines that come out or even in some cases just a certain look. It is secondary character Louis that comes across as the comic relief.
What I found with the new film that it just seems to be all four cast members trying to be the comic. Seriously look up Honest Trailers Ghostbusters on You Tube and see for yourself. Therefore it just comes across that the whole film just revolves around these four characters being in funny situations. Actually makes that five as Chris Hemsworth as useless receptionist Kevin also goes over the edge as the stupidest person on the face of the planet. With all this going on the film just seems to lack any tension which is a shame. Some of the comedy works, the scene where they go to rent the firehouse before finding out about the rent and ending up above a takeaway instead. However others such as Yates being bounced all over an alleyway but one of Holtzman’s new toys just comes across as cartoonish.
It also seems to take a long time to get started before we get to anything really exciting happening. There is a long build up to the Ghostbusters actually getting started. The idea of a villain who is trying to break down the wall between this world and the spirit world is interesting and he is quite a bland villain. Basically someone who had been bullied and wants to teach the world a lesson and at the start of the film it works well to have this bland villain who eventually kills himself to get into the spirit world. What should have happened then is to make the villain terrifying and ramp up the tension. Instead we get a possessed Kevin who just doesn’t seem like a threat. This film with some work could have been a lot better.
That’s not to say that the film is a complete disaster. There are some good parts. The opening scene was quite spooky. The actresses mainly do an ok job and Kate McKinnon’s Holtzman is a fantastic character. Seriously I would watch a sequel just to see more of this character. There are some nice nods to the original film such as the Marshmallow Man although Slimmer’s role seems a little too much. Maybe less reliance on these numerous nods would have allowed the film more breathing space. There are also some interesting cameos from the original cast. Some seem to be forced in but Dan Aykroyd’s taxi driver and Anne Potts as a receptionist. But the reboot as it stands goes for its own origin storyline instead of simply copying from the original. It’s not therefore four new cast members taking on the iconic roles (such as in the new rebooted Star Trek films) but are new characters which is good.
So despite watching it many times before I found the original 1984 film to be much better and much more enjoyable to watch. The 1984 film is also the one that I am more likely to watch again in the future but then maybe it’s just because it’s the one from my childhood. Personally I think the new film would have worked better as a continuation with a new crew being brought in to replace the 80’s team and maybe a mixed group of both sexes could have made a difference to how the film was received. However I still wouldn’t mind if this cast was brought back for a sequel as unlikely as that seems. After all the Star Trek franchise seemed to have on and off films throughout its run.
What do I think they should do differently next time? Tone down the comedy but a lot. Yeah you can still have McKinnon being out there and throw in a few moments of fun. The relationship between Gilbert and Yates was good. But get rid of all the over the top and physical comedy. I’d also have to say Kevin would have to go or his character changed a lot to be a bit more believable. It would also now have to stand on its own two feet. While it was fun with all the nods to the originals any sequel would be better off concentrating simply on its own merits. Being a Doctor Who fan I can easily compare this to the two ‘pilots’ of renewing the series. The 1996 movie contains various nods and takes time building up to the main story to establish the character of the Doctor. With the 2005 pilot Rose producer RTD does away with most of the ties to the original to start with and just establishes the new series. It worked a lot better.
The ending scene mentioning Zuul which would seem to indicate that any sequel would redo that story. Let’s hope that if a sequel does come round that they concentrate more on a good story then just setting up one comedic scene after another and trying to do fan service.