This week, we’re far less concerned with structure and more concerned with having a great time! We’ll open the show talking about our weekends, and Justin recounts his trip to Washington D.C. to meet horror legend John Carpenter. We also pay homage to James Cameron’s Aliens, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary on the recording date, and to The Dark Knight, which celebrated its 8th. Some friends of the show return, and we feature a brand-new segment this week, as I edit your mini-reviews of Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters.
Epic Film Guy Nick’s Full Review:
Kristen Wiig plays Erin, a pastiche of Ray and Peter from the original film who is a scientific genius, but more than a touch eccentric. She wrote a book with Abby (Melissa McCarthy, doing her best blend of Ray and Egon), but the two have had a falling out- until supernatural goings-on in New York bring them back together, where they join forces with Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon, who is equal parts Peter, Egon, and Louis Tully turned up to 11) and Patty (Leslie Jones, who manages to be just a bit more of an actual character in this than Winston does in the original). They hire a ditzy pretty-boy (Chris Hemsworth doing his best Kelly Bundy impression), and the Ghostbusters are born! They must come together to stop the wicked Rowan (Neil Casey) from bringing about an ectoplasmic armageddon against New York, as it is assaulted by all manner of ghosts & ghouls!
In terms of the comedy in the film, it mostly lands on its feet. Each of the four women in the cast get to showcase their own comedic strengths, be it dry sarcasm and wit from Wiig & McCarthy, the physical comedy of McCarthy, Wiig’s awkwardness, McKinnon’s expressiveness and Jones’ every-woman charm. The cast is a little rough around the edges chemistry-wise at first, but this is moreso because the plot requires it to be than anything else. Narratively, they clearly wanted to take this film in a different direction than the original at the beginning, but it is to its detriment, as screentime then has to be wasted resolving the conflict between Erin and Abby that would otherwise be better spent on literally anything else. Once the girls get together, however, they bat the comedic ball back-and-forth quite ably. McCarthy does her physical comedy schtick in the film, but only once, and instead settles more into a role like she had in St. Vincent, with a dry and sarcastic wit, but playing the “straight man” to the more comedic members of the cast. The absolute standout amongst the main cast is Holtzmann, however, and McKinnon completely steals every scene she is in with her charming eccentricity. Wiig is her typically wonderful self, but her continued pining over Hemsworth’s Kevin gets a little tired as the film wears on. Jones is wonderful in most of the scenes she is in, and some of her more boisterous moments are well-balanced against the quieter moments the character has.
The film’s story is unfortunately rather hit-and-miss. It tries too hard to differentiate itself from the original, as previously noted, but half the time this is to its detriment. For instance, the Ghostbusters are immediately brought to the attention of the mayor by homeland security- they are allowed to keep Ghostbusting, but are dismissed by the papers as quacks and frauds as the “official” story. This falls flat every time it rears its head in the film and they’d have been better served either removing the government from the story altogether, or going the route of the original, where they are brought before the mayor as the city begins to fall apart. It succeeds, however, by showing field tests of all of the equipment, mostly played for laughs, instead of the equipment simply being up-and-running minutes after the Ghostbusters are thrown off the university campus. It does include a ghost trap, but omits the containment system (for now), as these are still Ghostbusters very much in the midst of their own origin. The second act sags a bit- mostly because of the government scenes- before concluding in an action-packed finale that really warmed the heart of this Ghostbusters fan.
The effects in the film are extremely bright and almost neon-like, but they have definitely received a good polish since the first trailers and they looked fantastic. The film probably relies a little too heavily on CGI, but in this day-and-age this is to be expected, and they were never going to go the fully practical route. The film’s cameos tend to be either massive distractions or fun nods to the originals, depending on whose cameo one is referring to- the nod to Ramis at the beginning is wonderfully tasteful, and Aykroyd in particular is great in his bit part. Slimer (and lady Slimer?) also have a fun little excursion, and it was great to see a modern rendering of the ol’ Onionhead. Annie Potts was great, while Weaver & Hudson come very late in the movie and aren’t a distraction to it. Bill Murray, however- star of the original and the lone holdout that prevented a Ghostbusters 3 from happening for decades- gets way too much screentime as a “skeptic” character in the film and is extremely distracting. The entire subplot seems convoluted, concocted simply to both shove Murray into the film and subsequently give him what he has always wanted out of a third Ghostbusters film.
This film could have, and should have, been better. Yet, for the better part of the runtime, this reviewer found himself smiling from ear to ear and laughing uproariously at the various antics. It does enough right by the originals, and does enough right on its own, that it works in its own special way. It has a dismally unengaging villain in Rowan, who sells himself as a victim of bullying but is never sympathetic in the way that Feig and his co-writer Katie Dippold want him to be, instead simply expecting a brief sentence of explanation about his motivations to replace cold, hard character development. Gozer was a disembodied entity for 99% of the runtime of the original Ghostbusters and had more development than this sad sack. Yet, for all of its faults, it succeeds where the haters most wanted it to fail- in handing the proton packs down to a new generation and in creating an engaging all-female cast that is funny for a good chunk of the runtime. If a sequel is made, then all the better for it. 6/10.