Somehow this reboot of the 1984 comedy hit has become a front-line in the culture wars. For those of you that have been buried under a 35 foot long Twinkie for the last year (or using the internet for more rational purposes), let’s do a quick recap. From the announcement of Feig’s intention to have an all-female cast of Ghostbusters crew, howls of derision have come from a certain (mainly male) demographic of the internet, decrying it as a travesty that was destroying their precious childhood memory. Anyway, long story short, it got nasty…. and very public. Doxxing, death-threats, hate speech, organised boycott and attack campaigns….etc. It’s against this background, that Ghostbusters 2016 comes out. All of which means exactly nothing to the quality of the film, but it is an interesting context to place it in.
When ghosts start to appear in historic landmarks, New York starts to find itself under threat from the paranormal. Physicist Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), paranormalist Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), and former Subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) are the only ones that believe the threat is real, and have the technology to stand against it.
So is it as good as the original?
Well that really isn’t an easy question to answer, as the power of nostalgia is a strong overwhelming force, but it is good….great even. Certainly outclassing the wretched pile of ectoplasm that was Ghostbusters 2. This is a different creature, paying tribute to the original but forging its own ground, and it does so bravely and boldly.
The result is hilarious, and a lot of this is due to the chemistry of the Ghostbusters team. Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon, and Jones play well off each other. Important given the improvised nature of the comedy, lending the scenes a naturalistic flow. McKinnon, especially, is in fantastic form as the scene stealing engineering maverick Holtzmann, garnering laughs every time she’s on screen.
In some ways this even tops the ’84 offering in terms of effects and action sequences, with the girls kicking some serious ghost ass in glorious 3D. So does this make it a perfect film? No, it has flat patches and logic flaws, but in all honesty so does the original. What we do have is an exceptional piece of popcorn entertainment that is a joy to watch. It’s not going to win over the haters as they have become ideologically entrenched, but for the rest of us – well, we know who to call.