Sunday, July 17, 2016

Ghostbusters 2016

Neither a triumphant success nor an unmitigated disaster, Ghostbusters 2016 taps into the same comedy vein as the original 1984 film and certainly surpasses the lamentable Ghostbuster II. The analogs for Egon and Winston are great, with the prize going to Kate McKinnon's Holzman. However, Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig's characters are missing in action—they are generic everywomen without much distinction between them.

One of the things that made the original Ghostbusters work was the characterization of each of the four Ghostbusters (with the lamentable exception of Winston Zeddemore being cut from an integral portion of the movie to being introduced on page 68). Each of the four Ghostbusters has a unique identity with broad character traits that we can identify immediately. Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig were interchangeable. Neither was quite a straight-man (which the movie lacked), and I was always waiting for Kate McKinnon to come back on onscreen.

The plot was good for a piece of Ghostbusters media, although I felt altogether too much time was spent on "how the Ghostbusters got be" portion of the film. Building up the first specter was a wonderfully compact mythology of torment and sorrow, and the constant emphasis on how dangerous the ghostbusting gear is was a much-appreciated nod to the original. Indeed, the movie went out of its way to hang its hat on the original Ghostbusters without paying it overmuch deference.

As others have said, there was an unfortunate lack of mythologizing in the new Ghostbusters. We didn't hear about background material until it was relevant—I feel like there was much more to be done with that book on leylines, for example—and the villain of the piece did not exhibit any of the Lovecraftian awe of Gozor, or even the reduced Lovecraftian awe of Vigo the Carpathian.

Still, all in all a decent outing and a fun film. And the post-credits scene certainly layered in what was necessary to continue the series and take it down a darker and more supernaturally rewarding path. Jilian Holtzman and Egon Spengler would be a great couple, for whatever that's worth.

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