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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Something Strange, And It Don't Look Good

Cards on the table time: When I first heard "Ghostbusters reboot" I cringed. Very hard.

The original movie (and even its sequel) are fond childhood memories: I remember the first movie playing on television when I was very, very small, and hiding my face behind my Ultra Magnus figure. Given the results of reboots of various other 80s-90s properties such as Transformers, Ninja Turtles, and the like, its chances were not good. Transformers is remembered more for Megan Fox, amateur gynecological exams with cinema cameras, humping dogs, and making me hate Shia Lebouf. Ninja Turtles is remembered for those nightmarish faces, a Shredder wearing a cutlery set, and more Megan Fox. Given that history, Ghostbusters couldn't possibly be good.

I cringed again when I heard "all female cast." Not because (it should go without saying) I didn't think an all female cast was capable of carrying a film, but because I can smell stunt-casting a mile away. Then they announced who was in it and I stopped listening at Melissa McCarthy. I have nothing against her personally, and again (it should go without saying) I don't hold her gender against her. Her style of comedy just seems nigh-identical to that of Kevin James (lol fat jokes) and I can't stand him, either. In fact, I'd go on record right now saying that I'd be looking forward to this Ghostbusters "reboot" just as much as I am now were Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Kevin James, and Adam Sandler doing it. In fact, I'd probably hate the idea more, to the point where I'd have been disappointed if there wasn't a tragic on-set accident that involved the Ecto-whatever-number-they're-using running them all over.

Now I've seen the trailer. This trailer:

And I don't hate it. There are some things that annoy me, and some that I actually liked. But overall, it's an overwhelming sense of... nothing. I feel nothing for this. Not even a feeling of nostalgia.

I do like Kate McKinnon's character of Holtzmann, who seems to be the analogue of Egon Spengler of the original cast. She's got an interesting visual style, and seems to deliver her lines in a way that is far less grating than at least half the cast, and looks completely at home with the tinted safety glasses and insane gadgets in her lab. I do like the design of the ghosts, with a heavy emphasis on 1920s flapper style and vintage carnival design, and I'm interested in how well they hold up on-screen compared to the dated special effects the original movies used. There's been about 30ish years of on-screen movie ghosts between then and now, and I'd like to see what direction they take monster design in this one. I don't hate the Cadillac as much as I thought I would, but it's certainly no vintage Ecto-1.

The movie's already catching heat, though, from the same crowd that previously defended it by accusing its detractors of misogyny. Patty, the only black character, isn't a scientist. She's a regular schlub, a city transit worker who is only there because she has street smarts and, from what the trailer tells us,  a car. Which, predictably, is garnering the movie accusations of racism.

When the original film did it, it fit with the times: it was much more common to see a black man as a construction worker instead of a scientist in the 80s, and I loved Ernie Hudson's take on Winston as a regular dude who didn't even believe in the supernatural but was there for the paycheck. His character's evolution was probably my favourite part of the series. But now, while I debate the accusation of racism, it is incredibly lazy just to rehash Winston as a woman.

I'm not looking forward to Melissa McCarthy's character, primarily for reasons I've outlined above. And I don't have an opinion either way on Kristen Wiig's character, despite her being the most accomplished comedic actress out of the entire group (which doesn't bode well. She should be the Bill Murray of the group, but I'm getting nothing out of her at this point).

I'm not loving Chris Hemsworth's part in this, either; he's Captain Kirk's dad and Thor, and he's playing what seems to be a joke role at this point. Compare that to Janine, who was a very layered character who contrasted a sharp, grating vocal style with an 80s 'sexy librarian' look, while Hemsworth seems to be... just a sexy fireman? Janine was a subversion of femininity, whereas Hemsworth just seems to be a pin-up.

So in short: I don't hate it. I don't love it. I'm not feeling much either way, aside from this sick feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach that a franchise as beloved by so many people as Ghostbusters has just put out a trailer that looks like the sequel to Pixels.

In the meantime, if you're looking for a true sequel, head on over to Steam and check out the Ghostbusters video game.

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