Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ghostbusters - an exercise in mediocrity

movie review


Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Charles Dance, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Chris Hemsworth
Directed by: Paul Feig
Tagline: Answer the call.

The all-female reboot of the supernatural comedy franchise Ghostbusters has been generating controversy ever since the project was announced. But after being the centre of so much criticism and debate, it just feels downright disappointing that the movie is neither a masterpiece nor a train wreck and instead just settles for being emphatically mediocre.

Directed by Paul Feig, the new film revives the ’80s series, basically following a similar template as the original flick while assembling a new team of paranormal investigators who are itching to catch some ghosts.

As proceedings commence, ex-besties Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Abby (Melissa McCarthy) have gone their separate ways since co-authoring a book about paranormal phenomenon, with the former distancing herself from her past work that delved into the existence of ghosts and the latter embracing it with gusto. But a series of events brings the two back together when Erin reluctantly agrees to assist Abby and her eccentric colleague Jillian (Kate McKinnon) in a supernatural investigation. Meanwhile, after witnessing an apparition in the subway tunnel, transport worker Patty (Leslie Jones) finds her way to the ghostbusting group, rounding up the crew.

As ghost sightings increase in the area, the ladies discover that an occultist (Neil Casey) is attempting to unleash an army of the undead who are set to inflict unspeakable pain and torment on the living. Even though they are being denounced as frauds, it is still up to the Ghostbusters to stop the apocalypse and save the world.

The film makes several nods to the classic that spawned it, bringing back the famous Ghostbusters logo and Ray Parker Jr’s unforgettable theme song as well as many familiar faces, with original cast members making cameo appearances intermittently throughout the film. But just as it pays homage to the 1984 hit, the project keeps reminding viewers that it simply lacks the breezy fun of the original, and feels unimaginative and forced in comparison.

The humour is a bit bland and at times just doesn’t hit the mark because of a weak script. The gender switch – which also applies to the good looking but dumb secretary, played here entertainingly by Chris Hemsworth – allows the film-makers to assemble a cast of talented comedic actresses (most of whom have Saturday Night Live ties). Wiig and McCarthy (who is more restrained here than usual) seem natural and at ease in their roles. McKinnon’s maniacal mad scientist is amusing at first but quickly becomes borderline irritating. And the decision to make Jones’ character the only non-scientist of the group, as many have noted, really does feel retrograde.

Not as smart, funny or spooky as one would have hoped, 2016’s Ghostbusters ultimately just comes off as an average but unnecessary reboot. Feig’s uneven movie is a silly, affable adventure that lacks the originality, wit and fun that made the Ivan Reitman film such a memorable, enduring classic. There is nothing particularly special about the project, and ultimately it is neither abhorrent enough to justify the vitriolic response of its detractors, nor interesting enough to validate its existence.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

- By Sameen Amer

The Express Tribune - 26th July, 2016 *

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