So, Ghostbusters. I had heard a lot about this film and had not been interested in any of it. However, after hearing good reviews from friends ‘in real life’ and on social media, and with a day off work on my hands, I decided to go check it out.
As far as reboots go, this one wasn’t bad. Certainly, as compared to the lazy, plagiaristic mess that was The Force Awakens it was really quite good.
But calling a film good because it is better than a bad one isn’t really saying that much. What actually made Ghostbusters good? Well, the film remembered its past – there were numerous nods to the original Ghostbusters film. It also subverted classic super-hero tropes in a way that was entertaining rather than tiresome. Finally, the story was sprinkled with red herrings and in-jokes that were handled in a just-right way that gave us the joke without undermining the credibility of the characters.
And it would have been very easy to ruin them for there was nothing particularly new about any of the ghostbusters. Sombre scientist, kooky genius, impulsive leader and dependable fourth. We’ve seen it all before. Fortunately, the lead actresses all played their parts seriously and by so doing gave us ‘real’ people to believe in and root for.
Speaking of four, I would like to give Kate McKinnon a special mention. She plays Jillian Holtzmann, the kooky genius. If you watch the film, look at how she acts. This is hard to explain but she acts with her whole body. Hold on, you might say, how is that different from any other actor or actress? I have explained myself badly. Of course, all actors and actresses use their whole body but only within a certain limit. They don’t go beyond it, either because they have no imagination or – more likely – their role doesn’t call for it. McKinnon’s doesn’t necessarily but she goes beyond, anyway. Thus, her acting at times takes on the form of a dance and adds an extra level of enjoyment and meaning to the film.
Those are some of its positives. Unfortunately, they were undermined by the fact that Ghostbusters had a really weak story. Such as it was it involved an evil hotel handyman opening a portal between this world and whichever one is occupied by the spirits of the dead in order to— I can’t quite remember. Kill everyone, I expect? Said handyman, Rowan North (Neil Casey), was little more than a means to an end, existing only to get lots of ghosts onto the screen for the final denouement.
After the film ended, I came away feeling rather deflated. This was in part due to the weakness of the story but also because, I have to admit, I didn’t find enough of the jokes funny. Some were but for me there were just not enough good ones to keep the film afloat. To be fair to the film, judging by the laughter coming from elsewhere in the screen, other members of the audience were really enjoying themselves.
Because my ultimate response to the film is such a personal one I would resist the temptation to not recommend it. If you enjoyed the previous Ghostbusters films or sci-fi/fantasy in general I think there’s a fair chance you will enjoy this, too.