Saturday, August 13, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016)

Up for tenure at Columbia University, physicist Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) finds it really inopportune timing for a book on the paranormal that she wrote ages ago with ex-BFF Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) to suddenly surface on Amazon for public consumption. She begs her to bring it down, but she is hesitant because of past issues between them. When a ghostly apparition malevolently haunts an old mansion, the two make a deal to explore it in exchange for what she wants. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), Abby’s new partner in crime, tags along, and the trio witnesses a legit paranormal sighting that excites all three of them. This, however, costs Erin her job, yet finding a rekindled passion for the supernatural which she is now convinced exists. As more specters emerge to terrorize New York, the three find an ally in Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), an MTA worker who has seen a phantom on the tracks and decides to join them to save the city from the impending ghostpocalypse.

I don’t really get where all the vitriol is coming from. This is decent enough a remake to be hated on so much, in comparison to the many other casualties of Hollywood’s brain drain. The film is quite hilarious, to be honest. If the main issue is because of the gender switch, then that is plain unfortunate. The last time I checked, it's 2016, and women have repeatedly proven that they have what it takes to helm a blockbuster. Who are complaining anyway? The Millennials? The diehard nerds who loved the original because they used to fantasize over Sigourney Weaver? The point is that there are remakes that totally missed. This one is just fine.

But whoever was in charge of production seemed to be having a field day as far as feminist overtones are concerned. The casting of Chris Hemsworth as Kevin the muscle bounded oaf of a receptionist is obviously a stab at the commodification of the female gender prevalent back then, heck even until now. With the tables reversed, now the male gender is the one being commodified while women are portrayed as the heroines. Not many men are complaining, though, which is an evident manifestation of the existing double standard. Perhaps what Hollywood should be working on is blurring the lines between genders in film roles. We can say that progress has finally been achieved when the roles we see onscreen are mostly gender neutral, with the possibility of being portrayed by either male or female without detriment to either character or plot.

With Paul Feig on the director’s chair, there are many similarities to the comedic style he has already used in his previous films such as Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy. Such is tricky because sometimes people who are all too familiar with those movies would tend to think that the approach is just being recycled. But maybe the universe already established by the original film is already too strong and iconic that it just refuses to be upstaged. The end product is a mix of visually appealing CGI and questionable humor, both deadpan and slapstick. Most of the time, it works.

Several cast members from the 1984 version appear in short cameos, although Bill Murray has an extended appearance which is more like a new character tailor-made for him. Their participation is very much welcome because it serves more as a show of support for the remake rather than fan service. The fact that some of them even contributed as producers simply means that they backed the idea in the first place. Besides, a modern rendition is long overdue to introduce the new generation to this beacon of our childhood. If anything, I suppose it helped spike curiosity about the original. That’s good, although I don’t think the new generation will really sit down for two hours to see an 80’s flick. A modernized version, on the other hand, will help them understand what it’s all about, at least.

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