“Proton guns are all well and good, but sometimes you need the Swiss Army.”
‘Ghostbusters’, directed by Paul Feig in 2016, is a comedy fantasy remake of a highly regarded 1980s movie of the same name. It features a trio of scientists and an MTA worker who is an expert in New York folklore as they tackle a rise in paranormal phenomena caused by an occultist. In a series of special effect heavy set pieces, the four take out a variety of ghost and possessed objects (one of which appears to be lifted from ‘Doctor Who’), uncover a plot involving ley-lines and particle physics and the film then climaxes in Times Square as they struggle to close a portal to ‘the other side’. New York is the main character here, and the film perfectly uses the locations both above and below ground – something the original and its remake also excelled in. As with the original, the main cast is drawn primarily from the Saturday Night Live sketch show and, as a result, the remake shares the same semi-improvised, rapid verbal humour. It also rides a wave of 1980s nostalgia shared by the new Star Wars films, and the recent television series ‘Stranger Things’, like ‘The Force Awakens’, this remake occupies that delicate ground between pastiche and update. In this case, my feeling is that it errs more towards the former than the latter which feels unbalanced at times. I think whilst Abrams’ movie lifts elements from the past and polishes them, Feig presents the past as a series of cameos, which whilst fun and undoubtedly nostalgic gives the film less substance. There is also a strong influence from the ‘Men in Black’ movies, and perhaps an eye towards merchandising, particularly in the ever elaborate weaponry the team uses to tackle the ghosts. Overall the movie is as good as the original, but (obviously) lacks the originality, however the cast is great and the jokes are funny. Perhaps a sequel will give the franchise more courage to innovate and to move away from the nostalgia.
Would I recommend it? Yes – it’s a film that relies largely on spectacle so it’s worth watching on the big screen. I wouldn’t recommend a double-bill with the original movie as too many of the plot beats are repeated, but maybe watch with ‘Men in Black’.