Ghostbusters 101

Welcome to The Water Cooler, a weekly feature where the /Film staff is free to go off-topic and talk about everything except the movies and TV shows they normally write about. In this edition: a Ghostbusters comic bridges the old movies and the new one, what it’s like to be an annual pass holder at Universal Studios, playing the throwback video game Shovel Knight on the Nintendo Switch, tackling of Mice and Men for the first time, and more!

Ethan Anderton is Reading the Ghostbusters 101 Comic Book Series

Since the reboot of Ghostbusters from Paul Feig wasn’t quite the hit that Sony Pictures and the newly founded Ghost Corps production banner were hoping for, it doesn’t look like we’re going to get any more movies playing in the new universe with the lady paranormal investigators played by Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t see how the adventures would have continued, and that includes a crossover between the new Ghostbusters and the classic team played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson.

IDW Publishing has a comic book series that we’ve highlighted before called Ghostbsuters 101, and it features a storyline that connects the universes of the original Ghostbusters with the new Ghostbusters. Honestly, it’s exactly what I would have wanted from a sequel that opted to bridge the gap between the original franchise and the reboot rather than going out of the way to make them separate entities with no significant narrative connective tissue.

Interestingly enough, Ghostbusters 101 links the old and new Ghostbusters by way of Gozer the Gozerian. The series is only four issues deep right now, with two more issues to be released at the end of July and August, but I’ve loved how the comic stays true to the spirit of both Ghostbusters teams. There are fantastic references and easter eggs for fans of both franchises, not to mention the previous comic book adventures of the classic Ghostbusters team (including their crossover with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and there’s even a cameo from The Real Ghostbusters at one point.

After this six-issue series is concluded, I’m probably going to write something about this little storyline and how it’s the combination Ghostbusters sequel and reboot that the fans deserved to see on the big screen.

Peter Sciretta and Toothless

Peter Sciretta Became a Universal Studios Hollywood Annual Pass Holder

I’ve been a Disneyland annual pass holder for as long as I’ve lived in Los Angeles. For whatever reason, I’ve never made the same commitment to Universal Studios Hollywood, even though it’s much much closer than Anaheim. Yeah, I am more of a Disney fanatic, but I’m not a Universal hater. Every year I cover Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights (which is a completely separate event ticket) for the site and have gotten my fix.

So what changed? I got a Costco membership and learned they were selling the Gold Annual Pass for only $199, which includes 337 available days, including 83 weekend days. Universal has also introduced FlexPay, which allows pass holders to pay off their pass over 12 months instead of the one upfront payment, which is how I’ve been paying for my Disney pass for years now. And honestly, the cost of this pass is almost 1/4th the cost of what I’m paying at Disney. The price was right, and so I’m now a pass holder.

In two weeks, I’ve already gone to the park twice. It’s difficult to compare Universal’s AP offerings to Disneyland Resort at this point, but I have already been pleasantly surprised. For instance, most of the dates that my pass is blocked out is the busy summer weeks, but Universal extended an invite to Annual Passholders allowing them to visit the park on one of their blocked out July dates. This is something I’ve never seen Disneyland offer.

In addition to admission, the pass also includes free parking before 5:00 P.M. (a weird restriction because I guess they want people to pay for parking if they want to see a movie or eat dinner at Citywalk) as well as 15% off food and merchandise in the park, which is helpful. Strangely, Universal only offers a paper ticket for their Annual Pass, unlike the plastic card offered by most other theme parks. A paper ticket can easily get damaged or lost, so I found this cost cutting effort to be extremely weird.

Universal recently acquired Dreamworks Animation and they’ve begun building a Dreamworks theater attraction which will house 4D experiences for their popular franchises. Right now, guests can get their photos with favorite characters from Madagascar, Shrek, Trolls, Kung-Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. For whatever reason, they don’t have a costumed character design for Toothless – it’s a big statue photo op, which is disappointing considering the incredible walking costume designs Universal made for the Transformers characters. You can see the photo of me with the Toothless statue above. Someday, I hope they’ll allow us to meet a real moving breathing dragon!

Jacob Hall Played (and Beat) Shovel Knight

My first video game console was the Nintendo 64 and my first serious video game obsession was GoldenEye, so the golden age of the 8 and 16-bit platformer passed me by. I have no nostalgic love for the early Mario games (although I like them) and have no room in my soul for the Mega Man games (although I admire them). So it seems like Shovel Knight, a video game meant to echo the look and feel of those early electronic gaming classics, wouldn’t be up my alley. While the game is a few years old, it’s currently available on the games-starved Nintendo Switch and I needed something new to play. So I gave it a shot.

In a nutshell: I was wrong. While Shovel Knight will certainly appeal to gamers hoping for a blast of nostalgia, Yacht Club Games has created something that transcends basic retro appeal. It may look like an old game, but the art design and is colorful and vibrant and full of personality. It may sound like an old game, but the soundtrack is endlessly catchy and gives every stage a veneer of jovial menace. And while the barebones story is in line with old school platformers (a shovel-wielding knight sets off to rescue a fantasy kingdom from an evil enchantress), it’s a surprisingly soulful tale that quietly tugs at your heartstrings, utilizing dream sequences and simple but elegant character writing to truly invest you in the main character’s plight. The final moments are surprisingly moving – completing the game doesn’t just offer a sense of achievement, but a sense of proper closure.

Beating the game unlocked a New Game Plus mode, which I tinkered with for a few minutes before dying quickly and turning my Switch off. I’m not a talented enough gamer to take on the more challenging second run, where you keep all of your equipment and upgrades but facer tougher opponents. But that’s okay. I’ll leave that mode to the gamers who specialize in this kind of game. I’ve had my fill of Shovel Knight and it was a fine meal indeed.

Clive Owen in The Knick

Jack Giroux is Watching Season 1 of The Knick

I don’t have Cinemax, and, unfortunately, it took me too long to get around to picking up The Knick on Blu-Ray. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked by Jack Amiel, Michael Begler, and Steven Soderbergh’s drama, though, which is set in 1900 and follows a rich ensemble of deeply flawed characters. Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) is a great, troubled and brilliant protagonist, with both hatred and kindness in him. He’s surprising, exciting to watch and always revealing nuances, just like the most of the main characters on The Knick. Each episode leaves me wanting to get to know more about Dr. Edwards (André Holland), Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour), Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb), Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson), and others. So many characters on the show are riveting to watch.

There’s some great suspense in the series, too, since lives are almost always on the line and the hospital and world itself are sometimes akin to a gangster series. Episodes of The Knick can be set prominently at the hospital, but the world feels big and often dangerous. The Knick also features one of the best fight scenes I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s a fistfight with only a few actual punches shown connecting. There’s a brutality to it, but not because blood is spilled or bones are broken. Soderbergh even makes the fights on this series feel as intimate and subjective as possible. The Knick is 20 hours worth of the filmmaker’s work I wish I watched sooner.

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