Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Ghostbusters (2016)

I’ve never cared much for remakes.  Even when they’re good, they tend not to be as good as the original.  If you’ve seen both, you tend to compare them and the one you saw first will usually be the better one.  The first Ghostbusters movie came out in 1984 with a sequel released in 1989.  There had been talk of a third installment since then, but it never materialized.  Instead, we got a reboot with four female leads.  People were unhappy about this.  Granted, it’s a pretty big departure from the original, but if that was the only complaint, I’d probably like the movie.  I was even pretty psyched when I first saw a trailer for the movie.

The new movie carries over the basic plot.  Four people with an interest in the paranormal form a business dealing with the supernatural.  Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates are friends since grade school.  They bonded over that interest in ghosts.  They even wrote a book, which Erin tried to bury when she set out to get tenure.  Abby, on the other hand, started working with Jillian Holtzmann on a college campus.

Abby’s publishing of the book doesn’t help Erin.  When someone approaches the trio about a haunted tourist attraction, the subsequent YouTube posting gets Erin fired.  So, now the three are left to form what they call Conductors of the Metaphysical Examination.  They set up shop above a Chinese restaurant since it’s the only place they can afford.  The final addition to the team is Patty Tolan, who works for the MTA.

Several more ghosts appear, all due to devices placed by one Rowan North.  He’s trying to trigger the apocalypse.  By bringing ghosts to our plane of existence.  At first, it’s hard for anyone to believe what’s going on.  Even after they capture a demon at a live music performance, they still have their doubters.

Add to this the Department of Homeland Security and the New York Mayor’s office trying to discredit them.  Both appreciate the Ghostbusters’ efforts, but can’t publicly acknowledge that ghosts are real.  As you might imagine, we’re in store for an epic human-versus-ghost battle for the final act.  Rowan is able to get his wish, leaving the Ghostbusters to save the city.

When I went to rent the movie from Netflix, I was a little disparaged by the movie’s low ratings.  I had heard that it wasn’t as good as the originals, but I couldn’t be sure where this was coming from.  There are two possible paths you can take with a reboot.  You can either try to stick as close to the original and risk not living up to it or you can try to distance yourself and still be seen as an inadequate copy.  It’s basically the devil’s fork.  Either way, you’re being compared to the original and you‘re probably not going to be seen as being better.

I do think that the movie is decent in its own right.  Doing a carbon copy of the original serves no purpose.  Instead of trying to start anew, the movie decides to embrace its origins.  Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd both make cameos, as do Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts.  Even Stay-Puft and Slimer come back for this installment.

I think your enjoyment of this movie is going to based on what you bring to it.  There is a 30-year gap between the older movies and this one, so some people will be coming in to it with fresh eyes.  Those that saw the originals may not be impressed as much.  I would say to forget about any baggage you bring in with you.  If you see it as a new movie, it is enjoyable.

One thing I noticed was that the movie took advantage of being letterboxed.  I’ve often thought what a shame it was not to be able to rent a 3D movie.  I get that it’s impractical to release a 3D movie on DVD.  Even if you sell glasses in the package, DVDs by mail and streaming movies are so popular that there’s no easy way to get glasses to the customers.  Do you mail them with the DVD?    If you do, do you expect them back?  Is it fair to expect people who stream to get their own glasses?  You could give out cheap ones for free or you could sell good 3D glasses, but how many people would even take advantage of it?

With Ghostbusters, some of the effects extend into the matting above and below the actual motion picture.  It does sort of give a vague sense of 3D, kind of.  It’s nowhere near perfect, but it is thinking outside of the box.  This is the only attempt I can recall even being made.

On IMDb, under the movie’s connections, I do see an Untitled Ghostbusters Project.  I think the biggest measure of the movie’s success for me will be how that sequel turns out.  This movie walked a tightrope between using the old and coming up with the new.  The second movie will be the test for me as to whether or not they can stand on their own.

IMDb page

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