Ghostbusters Reviews

Bursting With New Concepts

The new Ghostbusters is at its best when it’s trying something completely new. This applies to dynamics of the new team, which are refreshing and modern and sweet, but it applies virtually everywhere else in the film, too. The new ghosts make a strong impression, especially the green, winged demon that invades the rock concert. Heck, that rock concert is one of the strongest sequences in the film, feeling fresh and fun from top to bottom. While his plan still involves a cataclysm of biblical proportions (cats and dogs, living together!), Rowan is very different kind of threat from Gozer, who represented something primal and unknowable and awful. This picked-upon schlub is awkwardly human, a real-world sad sack given access to the powers of the unknown. He’s a human face for the Ghostbusters to fight against, making the gigantic conclusion feel just a little more personal.

As I talked about above, the new Ghostbusters contains all of the right building blocks, the same basic ingredients, that made the original film tick. When Feig is utilizing a new set of spices, when he’s seasoning the whole thing to create a completely fresh and new experience, the film works. But that’s not always the case.

Slimer Origin

Weighed Down by…Respect?

The biggest problem with Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters is that it feels compelled to pause every five minutes to pay tribute to the original film when it’s otherwise so comfortable blazing its own trail. It’s one thing to place a bust of the late, great Harold Ramis in the background of one shot. It’s another thing to stop the film dead in its tracks to allow Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts to have extended cameos that ultimately amount to little more than “Hey, remember when I was in a Ghostbusters movie?” Of the cameos, Murray is easily the most egregious, taking a two-scene role and sleepwalking through it in the most disappointing fashion possible. There’s surely another cast member from Veep who could have knocked it out of the park.

The references begin to pile up in throwaway lines, repeated gags, and cameos from familiar ghosts. Slimer’s small role is perfectly fine, but the return of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man as a possessed parade balloon is just too much, especially when he’s surrounded by new ghosts who are so much fun to look at and are not weighed down by thirty years of familiarity. There’s a point in Ghostbusters ’16 where you want to grab the film by its ankles, hold it upside down, and shake it until all of the unnecessary callbacks and obvious in-jokes tumble out like loose change.

Of course, the grand irony here is that Feig and company were only trying to pay tribute to the fans who love the first film so much…many of whom have gone out of their way to make their displeasure known. If a sequel gets made, and yes, I would love to see these four ladies (and Kevin) return, Feig needs to cut the cord to the original altogether. And since the post-credits stinger her is a reference to Zuul from the first movie, he’d better ignore that and create a new villain instead. Death to callbacks. Long live the new Ghostbusters.

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