Cine Reviews: ‘Ghostbusters’ (2016)

Ghostbusters is the reboot-remake of the 1984 comedy classic of the same name and is directed by Paul Feig of Spy/Bridesmaids. The film stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Neil Casey.

Plot Synopsis:

Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.”

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The hate that the 2016 revamp of Ghostbusters has received since the time of its trailer release had been heated up long before the actual film arrived, but the question everyone is asking is that “Is a remake of that classic really necessary?” To be fair though, that has been answered countless times throughout the years as Hollywood’s remakes/reboots/sequels came and went. Luckily, some of them hit the marks of what they were trying to achieve. While on the flip side, a huge majority of them were frowned upon for being either too disgraceful or too similar. In Ghostbusters 2016’s case, director Paul Feig strove up to get to the right places as he leveled his own style of filmmaking as well as getting his film trapped in a box wherein its filmic elements are touched with the curse of cheesiness and slight boredom. But to be quite fair in assessing his latest film, there’s nothing from the cast that would release one’s anguish. Our newly appointed ghostbusters are there, and they are doing their own thing. It was all just a matter of dialogue refinement and content control to keep things safe. Feig’s option of lining up a female cast let alone remaking a comedy classic is both debatable and acceptable, but to get the point here across, the comedy, much like the ghosts that our protagonists hunt is quite dead.

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As a matter of fact, the laughs that one gets to make could be counted by his/her own fingers. But take note, it looks worse than it sounds. Some would even get you cringing from seeing them try a little too hard because there are very few gags for them to pull out some hilarity. The dialogue is indeed Feig-ish and obviously, there could have been less problems if they had been written with a little more effort and passably genuine humor to effectively carry on with its own colorful ways. However, in and of itself, the film was far from being a disgrace but instead, it got closer to becoming a mostly dull but somewhat still quite fun blockbuster. Again, what deserves some criticizing here is its treatment of the bigger things it could benefit from; ranging from the characters to the cheesy, overblown special effects, this remake could’ve done a lot more impressing if it opted to just take it smooth and slow. A major factor that drags it down to the ground in terms of ending up as yet another cheesefest is the showcase of the supposedly bigger, badder ghosts made through today’s CGI tech. Much to its merit, there were harmless coolness to be seen, but admittedly, it all felt as if they belonged to an early 2000s supernatural-comedy directed by someone like Raja Gosnell, only better.  The combination of low-rate jokes and CGI to give us entertainment that came in a rather acceptable packaging is well, what it is and we have the whole team and their director to thank for. But to point out the flaws, that packaging could’ve managed to become truly explosive and totally amusing at the same time if it wanted to. It doesn’t blow and it doesn’t suck either. It’s just right. Most specially if you see it in 3D.

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Let’s just say that there were parts in the film wherein it becomes funny, and oddly enough, it became such, but for only a few seconds since it quickly resumed to produce more of that cheap comedy whether it was through visuals or verbals. If we were to be a 100% honest, we’d like to express how much of a thoroughly enjoyable movie it could’ve been knowing Paul Feig’s true potential that he had proved in Spy/Bridesmaids. But since he chose to go big and made the unwise decision to let the amped-up effects, semi-misdirected cast and lazy storytelling to rule over, his remake of Ghostbusters got haunted by the ghosts of its brighter past and even of its own self. Not to serve as an insult to the director himself or anything, but it’s sad to say that that statement screams out the truth about the film’s impurities that could’ve been easily washed out if Feig had listened to his smarter self. Thankfully, there are still some aspects in it that shot its own empowering feminist spirit into the sky with a certain amount of power. Though the cast’s characters are sometimes quite annoying with their constant spitting of humorless lines, the chemistry that they have is both tightened and mushed-up. Tightened since their individuality is amazing as a whole, and also mushed-up for losing some connections at times.

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During the smaller scenes though, each of them get to show off with their own style of comedy, albeit not too much because it felt like their capabilities were suppressed-leading to jokes that only contained half the hilarity of what they could’ve really become. There isn’t something special to be found in each of them if one tried to compare them to the original team, but fairly enough, Paul Feig had the accurate choice in casting as these bad-ass females got along together very well. What could just possibly put you off as I did were the tired gags that seemed as if it was trying to impress a 12-year old with a screenplay written by a 15 year old being guided by a fan of the original. Rest assured though, this team could make you go from “wow” to “meh” repeatedly. You could count on that, but what you couldn’t really rely on to really satisfy you is this remake’s 50% lack of originality. Similar beats are used and effected, and this is what would cause the film’s rupturing on a large scale. It tries to tear down the 1984 classic’s mighty walls by pushing the “upgrade” button as hard and furious as possible, but that served little to no purpose because the damage it had brought onto itself for doing so opened a hole that sucked in our joy in spite of letting ourselves get caught by the huge, popping eye-candy. What more is that despite being a reboot/remake, it exactly felt and looked the same with its plot structuring, which if you try to look at it, is just a sign of this re-imagining’s own feebleness for not trying so hard to be different. 

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There’s a lot going on the message of empowerment in its narrative, and there is just so much to discuss regarding it. It worked in two ways; the good side of it managed to a decent job in introducing this new band of Ghostbusters in the form of girl power, but then again, there seemed to be a problem in stating that message as it brought up some disrespectful commentary in one way or another. Every male character in it is either evil, douche-y, dumb or helpless. It can be perceived as comical and maybe even quirkily bold to some, but if seen in other angles, its transforms into incongruous feminism. Even if this was Paul Feig’s own expression of him dealing with his haters, it comes out as somewhat remarkably offensive. It was hard to not notice it, but I couldn’t just help myself but figure out what all of that meant for its male audiences.

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A little subtlety to mask those could’ve been of help, but instead of doing so, the film goes all the way with it, bringing blooming, strong, empowering feminism and room for astounding gender criticism. From hearing all that, it’s a joy to know that this new gen of Ghostbusters didn’t not only bring certain amounts of excitement, but values for this era to adopt as well.  It might be odd that such a blockbuster like this version of Ghostbusters would make and leave hysterically confident remarks, but nonetheless, Paul Feig quasi-efficiently placed them within benign entertainment in spite of the inclusion of irking theatrical elements such as imbalanced thematic appropriation to deliver his own take on the concept. All of that came in a rather decent and fortunately palatable reboot-remake that could be taken as a moderate high-five to its classic counterpart rather than a disgraceful, painful slap. It seriously wouldn’t hurt to answer this revamp’s call.

Rating:

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Ghostbusters is now showing in 3D, IMAX and 4DX from Columbia Pictures Philippines.

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