Ghostbusters (2016): Wasn’t Worth The Wait

After a lengthy development cycle with tons of controversy and hotly contested debate, the reboot of Ghostbusters is finally here. Since it’s impossible to talk about this film without acknowledging this, let’s get the obvious question out of the way: was it worth all of the internet hatred? Um, well…no. Not really. It wasn’t worth making the trailer become one of the most disliked YouTube videos of all time AND all the attacks of the fanbase that the cast and production team were involved with and of course the Twitter spats, but Twitter will always be Twitter. I’m going to keep this as spoiler free as I can (despite the ending already surfaced as a gif on the internet), so strap on your proton pack and join me on this ride of sheer despair and atrocity.

I’m not going to beat around the bush with this, so I have one word to describe this film and that word is awful. But I’m not sure how this movie, considering its lengthy development and history, could be considered as anything “good”, which is a real shame. I went in wanting to like it and, to be fair, there are things I like in the film, but it just doesn’t work as an overall film. It’s like watching a train wreck happening right in front of your eyes, but you can’t make yourself look away from it, constantly hoping that it will stop, but it doesn’t and continues ever onward to its underwhelming conclusion.

As I said, there are things in this movie that I like. Chris Hemsworth continues his reputation for being a genuinely solid actor, as he is the only one having any fun with the script and uses his natural Australian accent, which isn’t something he gets to use as much as you might expect, and Kristen Wiig shows some real promise which makes me eager to see her in action more. I could see these two leading a film together very well if they were given the opportunity, not that anyone who has seen the Thor films could have doubted that in Hemsworth’s case. I also really love some of the new gadgets, including one that gives the ability to punch ghosts (don’t ask how that works, the movie doesn’t explain it).

But that’s it. The villain is so undercooked as to make a slab of raw meat look like a burnt steak (and is about as palatable) and has no character development at all (not that the rest of the cast is much better). He’s the edgy teenager who has been “bullied” and has taken the logical decision to take it all out on New York for a reason which is never explained and he has so little screen time, he could have been cut from the film and nothing of value would have been lost. His only real role in the movie is possessing Chris Hemsworth and, really, that could have been done by ANY ghost, so he doesn’t even have a point in this movie because his role could have easily been filled by a standard ghost!

And there’s my big issue with the movie: the villain spouts some nonsense mumbo jumbo about a “catalyst” that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, is never explained beyond “I’ve got trapped ghosts” (I’m really hoping that’s not an actual line from this movie, otherwise I’m going to be needing a lot of booze before I sit through this movie… -ed.) and he then kills himself to unleash these trapped ghosts and then repossesses other bodies, with a painfully forced reference to The Exorcist that only makes you wonder why you aren’t watching that instead of this.

The original Ghostbusters movie, I will admit, wasn’t flawless, as it was lacking for the first fifteen or so minutes, but it turned genuinely great after that. This movie nails the lacking part perfectly, but it completely forgets the “turned genuinely great” part. There is just no chemistry at all between the team: it isn’t believable that the team are even scientists, as all they ever do is spout out buzzwords and more buzzwords without ever throwing the audience a bone and telling them what the hell any of it actually means. The attempts at comedy is virtually non existent, with a lack of chemistry between the four Ghostbusters making any genuinely good ideas, such as the cameo from Slimer, fall flat and feel empty and weak (which is all the more concerning when you remember that all of the actors playing the Ghostbusters have been on Saturday Night Live, even if only as a host in Melissa McCarthy’s case). The team’s characterisations are also pretty one dimensional: Patty Tolan feels like a loudmouthed 1990’s racial stereotype who would be the first one to die if written to appear for a horror movie, Erin Gilbert is the smart one who has a crush on the token generic hot male (here provided by Chris Hemsworth), although her character has the most development out of the four members of the team, Jullian Holtzmann is like Tiny Tina from the Borderlands franchise, only far less enjoyable to watch, and Abby Yates is a character who just hangs around and complains about takeaway food. There’s really not a lot more to them than that and, considering these are the main characters that we are meant to be rooting for and wanting to see triumph, the fact that they are so lacking in personality makes it hard to get invested in the movie.

I also have to say that the return of the original cast members in this film is utterly pointless and their cameos were clearly just there so Sony could say that they had the support of the original cast, which is, frankly, hard to believe when you consider that, if the leaked emails are to be believed, Bill Murray was forced to be in this film against his own wishes and would have been sued had he not been in it. I will be fair and say that Dan Ackroyd’s appearance got a laugh from me, but it’s pretty damning that this was the only real laugh that I got from this whole movie.

This film just feels like Melissa McCarthy movie with a Ghostbusters skin on top of it (and not a good one at that) rather than an actual Ghostbusters movie. I saw the movie in a cinema that was at least half full and the only times the audience really felt invested in the movie were whenever Chris Hemsworth was on screen: whenever he wasn’t on screen, there was complete silence in the theatre. A potential sequel could iron out any issues and make a genuinely fun film, but, if my theater is any indication of what to expect, I wouldn’t hold out hope for that to happen, as the word of mouth is probably not going to be very positive and I doubt it’ll be successful enough to make a sequel profitable. Although that didn’t stop DC after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, so who knows…

Is it fair to say that Harold Ramis deserved to be remembered with a stronger film than this? Probably not, but to say this reboot was a disappointment would be a major understatement and probably makes the Star Trek reboot look much better by comparison. Ghostbusters fans, avoid this like the plague.