Back in the days I used to fashion myself as a pretty big Ghostbusters fan. I lost count how many times I seen the original back in the 80’s, but I can honestly attest to only seeing the second film once. We all know how bad that film is so I won’t even go there. Needless to say a third Ghostbusters film has been rumored to be in the works now for decades. Did they need a third Ghostbusters film? Of course they did not, but you can’t keep a good cash cow down forever. Sooner or later it’s going to rear its ugly head, hence this year’s Independence Day: Resurgence. So that’s where things get interesting. I was convinced that this reboot of the “franchise” was going to suck hard based on my animosity towards the film’s first trailer, but a recent visit with the original Ghostbusters on 4K UHD Blu-ray made me think otherwise.
So like I was saying, I became like a kid in a candy store with 4K UHD titles when I recently acquired these goodies here. I bought every 4K UHD Blu-ray title I could muster the courage to watch, hence why titles like The Smurfs, Gods of Egypt and Ghostbusters II 4K Blu-ray titles still sit on the retails shelves. Obviously, the original Ghostbusters film was one of the first 4K Blu-ray titles that I picked up the day it was released after reading raving reviews of its audio and video presentations, and quite honestly never owning it on the now 10-year-old Blu-ray format before. Well, I’m not sure how you can rave about the shoddy 1980’s special effects and grainy mess of a picture it is, although I’m not complaining as a purist given its age, but I can’t argue with how good it sounds. But that’s all besides the point. The point is, and I hate to admit this, but it’s actually a bad movie in my opinion. How did I think it was good all these years? It’s God awful when you really think about it and try to watch it all these years later. And the worst part about it all is I feel God awful even saying and admitting all this. What is wrong with me?
Besides the shoddy special effects, which the snob in me wish George Lucas could have been involved and cleaned up in Ghostbusters for this 4K Blu-ray release, I have problems with the story. It all feels rushed and undeveloped to me. Take for example the following scenario. One of the men mention they have money after the library haunting. The next thing you know they have all this gear and Ghostbusters swag. Part of the fun of these origin films, which I have come to know and love in modern day cinema is all the trials and tribulations they go through in devising gadgets to fight opponents with, you know…the fun and games of Act 2. It’s just not there for me in the original Ghostbusters. Couple with the fact that the movie tries to resolve itself so fast by rushing into the Third Act, the whole thing just feels sloppy and disjointed in my opinion. This is why, despite the fact that I am not a Melissa McCarthy fan by any means, I relinquished all my fear of this female-driven 2016 reboot and basically hoped for something better than the original film. Did I get it? Whoa! Let’s go over the basics first, partner.
So make no mistake about it, Ghostbusters is sadly a complete reboot of the franchise. There’s no continuity whatsoever besides rehashed versions of classic ghosts. The film is directed by Paul Feig off a script by him and Katie Dippold. In addition to McCarthy, the reboot stars the likes of Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones rounding out the female ghost-catchers while we are also treated to Charles Dance, Chris Hemsworth and Michael Kenneth Williams. Also, sad but so very true, there’s an “updated” version of the Ghostbusters theme song by Fall Out Boy and Missy Elliott and it sounds horrible to me. I chose to digress on all this for a brief moment, but nevertheless I feel it will probably grow on me like all songs eventually do. You still with me? Okay, good!
Now I know this is going to sound bad and I don’t know how else to say it, but the best part of this Ghostbusters reboot were the ending credits. Ha! I know what you’re thinking, the movie sucks and this grumpy, old critic is just saying that because seeing the credits finally roll meant the end of his suffering, misery and pain. Not so! It’s not that far fetched to think, but instead the credits thrilled! They had spunk, energy, F-U-N and charisma, that with the exception of Kate McKinnon’s character, I wish the rest of the movie severely had throughout. While there’s plenty to like about this 2016 effort, there’s also a good amount of moments you just wished they did differently or they could have upped the ante in some way, shape or form. I caught myself wanting to doze off a number of times, and after the day I had, I just wanted to laugh and enjoy myself. Instead, I left the theater perplexed thinking about whether or not did I love it enough to warrant a score of a 3 or was it only meh. The only thing I did know with 100% certainty was damn did those credits rock!
Now before I talk about what worked and what didn’t for me, let’s take a step back and chat about what the film’s all about first. Don’t worry I’m not going to divulge any plot secrets or spoil any of the cameos, although some of them were my favorite moments here, but I digress. Our story starts off with Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) who’s up for prestigious tenure at her college, Columbia University, but a secret from the past pops up and threatens to ruin all she has been working so hard to achieve. It’s a book, and it’s not regarded highly by academia because of its ludicrous subject matter. It’s a book about ghosts being real she wrote many years ago with high school friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). However, when ghosts invade Manhattan, somehow (remember I wont tell you the why or how in this review) Gilbert reunites with Yates and teams up with nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon), who adorably steals the show from all her other co-stars, and subway worker, Patty (Leslie Jones) to tackle and stop a pretty straight forward villain. I say straight forward because this is no SVU or Criminal Minds episode. The villain is shown pretty much right away and there’s not too much at all to his diabolical plan, but you’ll see!
Like I said up above, it’s McKinnon who steals the show here. Her unexpected weirdness and goofiness was a fine tuned mixture of both fun and lightheartedness and I completely forgot McCarthy or any of her usual, limited shenanigans were in this. It must have been hard for her to be in a feature where she wasn’t allowed to continuously curse. Ha! While the main gist of the story is very mediocre and nothing to write home about to tell your 70-year-old parents to run out and go see this one, at least the promise of adventure is there, the Bridesmaids-like chemistry was there and the comedy was strong enough at times to keep me in the game despite the feature pretty much running out of gas midpoint with no real whiff of death near the end. However, let’s face it, this one did do something right that the first Ghostbusters film failed miserably at. It gave me a satisfying origin story and more time to bond with the team before I was thrust into the actual “ghost-busting.” It even gave us a chance to see McKinnon shine as the quirky developer of all these toys they use to fight ghosts. She actually invents stuff in this film and you see it go down onscreen. Can you believe it? You can’t say the first Ghostbusters did that at all. Haha. The effects were top notch too. You can’t see it, but I typed that one with a straight face compared to those atrocious dogs on the 4K version of the original.
Last but not least, I did mention the cameos up above too. Rest assured you will get your quota of them throughout here, but there’s nothing really gratuitous. They all exist for one reason or another and as much as I thought I was going to hate them, I very much appreciate them. Quite honestly, much also to my surprise, the mighty Thor (Hemsworth), was also quite the scene stealer as the team’s male, very “blonde” secretary. The things that came out of his mouth had me in stitches at times. And that’s where this Ghostbusters film shines. It’s the laughs, not the scares, that makes me want more despite the mediocrity of it all. I know I’ll be giving this a second chance on 4K UHD Blu-ray this fall and I do look forward to maybe an Unrated cut if that’s not too much to ask for, but I can’t help wanting a little more F-U-N with this outing, but instead I’ll settle for more of those get out of your seat, booty shaking ending credits please. What a rousing good time! Stay after the credits finish rolling too. There’s more of the movie. I also heard great things about the 3D IMAX formatted version of this film and how good it looks (it was screened for us in 2D), especially these end credits so keep that info handy in your back pocket when planning your trip to see it this weekend. And most importantly…don’t get slimed! Enjoy!