Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

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A team of scientists discover that ghosts are threatening New York City and team up to bust them.

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Paul Feig, 2016

Physics professor Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) has spent years disassociating herself from her ghost-chasing past when she’s told that a ghost has been spotted in an old New York manor. She reconnects with her former partner Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), who continues her efforts to find scientific proof of ghosts with her new partner Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). When the trio of scientists see and record a ghost, they become dedicated to proving their existence to the world. The doubters start to get on uptight Erin’s nerves, while Abby is more dedicated to the scientific applications of their work. However, it isn’t long before they have bigger problems than the sceptics. Railway worker Patty Tolman (Leslie Jones) discovers another ghost who seems to have a connection with the creepy Rowan (Neil Casey) and joins the group to help them foil his plan.

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Look, at the time of writing this review, we all know that Ghostbusters isn’t exactly a box office sensation. I think that’s a terrible shame. I’ve seen Ghostbusters three times. It’s funny and enjoyable, and the leads have a natural chemistry that makes their interactions and ultimately their friendships very believable. The brightly coloured neon aesthetic is a fun, refreshing change from the gritty grey trend in films recently. It has a fun soundtrack, and the best credit sequence I’ve seen maybe ever. It has an infectious energy that I couldn’t get enough of. Most importantly, every time I’ve gone to this movie, I’ve seen kids having an absolute blast. They laughed at the jokes, squealed in excitement, and danced at the end of the movie. It’s so incredibly rare to get to see a movie with four women who aren’t sexualised, whose work is the focus of the movie, who get to kick butt and be funny and be characters that kids look up to. Hopefully, when the insane amount of sexism and negativity swirling around this movie dies down, that will be its legacy, rather than “girls can’t be Ghostbusters”.

This isn’t a perfect film, though. There are some definite pacing and plotting problems that seem to be at least partly the result of heavy editing to get the run time down to an hour and a half. The editing is occasionally choppy. Characters and story arcs are picked up and dropped too quickly, when they could easily and successfully be woven into the fabric of the film. Particular victims of this problem include a role from one of the original Ghostbusters (no spoilers) and New York’s mayor and assistant, played hilariously by Andy Garcia and Cecily Strong respectively. To me, there seemed to be an important part of Erin’s character arc missing entirely. The theory behind the blast from the past that is the incredibly fun climax of the film is fuzzy and unclear. The film coasts along on the effervescence provided by the fun atmosphere and the humour, though. McKinnon’s Holtzmann is the standout of the main four, her zany, flirty engineer with a disregard for proper safety procedures inspiring many of the film’s best moments. Each of the women gets their own moment to shine, though, with Wiig and McCarthy providing the film’s heart, and Jones’ sensible Patty getting some of the best one-liners. Chris Hemsworth gets a lot of laughs as the girls’ pretty but dumb secretary, but also gets to contribute to the plot, which is nice. It just makes such a refreshing change from the comedy blockbusters that we usually get, and for that alone it deserves better than all the jerks this shitty year have been able to give it.

Ghostbusters on IMDb

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