Science fiction and fantasy                                            


directed by Paul Feig


A cynic might consider the outrage that greeted a new Ghostbusters movie that reboots the franchise with four lead female characters might have been drummed up by publicists themselves. Because after all, the idea that women can't be ghostbusters ranks alongside "women can't read the news" and "women shouldn't have the vote" as ideas that belong firmly in the past. Yet in 2016 it remains true that there still aren't enough movies featuring female scientists, or even female main characters in something other than a romantic comedy, so it's high time this sort of casting isn't even considered remarkable.

The story is set in New York, and follows a group of scientists as they set up a ghost-hunting squad in the city after Erin (Kristen Wiig) loses her academic tenure and Abby (Melissa McCarthy) and Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) get kicked out of their college premises because serious academics don't want to be associated with their eccentric occult ideas. Fortunately for them there are plenty of people who need their help, as an increase in supernatural occurrences plagues the city. Something is up with the dead, and they are the only ones prepared to look into it.

The group are mocked online, bringing the story up to date with YouTube clips of their activities and people taking selfies. There are cameos from many members of the original movie, although they're not playing as the original ghostbusters so there's no overlap. However, the story follows the plot of the original movie rather too closely, which tends to reduce the tension for anyone who has seen the first one.

There are plenty of jokes, but I didn't think they hit home as often as they could have because something about the main characters didn't gel. It's hard to put a finger on what was missing, but if I had to guess it would be because the characters weren't quite as absurd or larger than life as it takes to make great comedy. They were a little bit like toned-down versions of the male ghostbusters.

Patty (Leslie Jones) is the group's non-scientist, recruited it seems for her access to cars and boiler suits. Leslie Jones doesn't quite play up to the stereotype of the sassy black sidekick, but in a comedy such as this it does mean she doesn't have enough to do.

Erin has a thing for Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), who plays their utterly hopeless, dumb as a rock secretary. Kevin can barely use a phone, but they hire him because he looks nice, and he has some of the best lines in the film. Jillian also has some amusing lines, and keeps the uptight Erin on her toes with her sense of fun. So overall Ghostbusters is mildly amusing, but it's rarely belly laugh material.

The sounds and special effects are great, although they do maintain the colourful style of the first movie so they're much more cute than scary. The updated soundtrack is different to the original, but the theme from the first one does come in at an appropriately exciting moment. There are funny moments, thrills, pretty visuals, and moments of righteous ghost fu. It's really easy to sympathise with the main characters, who keep coming across people who disbelieve in them, ridicule them, or actively try to suppress their findings as they fight for truth and to protect the people of New York. So this is a fun, fluffy movie with little onscreen violence, and it will resonate with anyone who struggles to be taken seriously in the face of ridicule.

17th July 2016

Film Details

Year: 2016

Categories: Films


Classification: 12

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3 star rating

Review ©

Source: seen at the cinema