Total Recall, The Amazing Spider-Man and RoboCop. What do these three movies have in common with this years Ghostbusters from director Paul Feig? They are all reboot's greenlit by Sony Pictures Entertainment (or one of its subsidiaries) that were met with an overwhelmingly negative critical repsonse from movie goer's and critic's, and ultimately proved to be greatly inferior to the original movies upon which they were based. Each of these movies, including Paul Feig's Ghostbusters, which hits theaters this July 15th, have been labelled as reboot's nobody wanted, nor even asked for. I, and others have pointed out repeatedly that this is the case with Ghostbusters, with director Feig originally approached to direct Ghostbusters 3 scripted by franchise co-creator's Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis, but instead he proposed a genderswapped reboot, and despite having no script and no cast was given the green light. A green light from a studio with a dismal record in recent year's with movie reboots, and a studio co-chaired (at the time the reboot was given the go ahead) by Amy Pascal, whom was shortly afterward's sacked from the studio for the racist comment's she made in emails that came to light during the Sony Hack Scandal of 2014, and remains onbaord as the movies executive producer.
With those expressing negativity towards this reboot being needlessly labelled as misogynistic and with a budget of $154 million, the Ghostbusters reboot needs to stand tall on its own, proving the chauvinistic naysayer's, angered fan's and critic's wrong. But with the first trailer revealing the tone and style of the movie and inferring some of the movies plot while showcasing its 'better' moments, has Paul Feig's Ghostbusters exorcised its demons and proven that rebooting the franchise was the right move, or has it opened the gates of hell, fuelling the critic's with proof definitive that this movie reboot should have never been made. Having watched the trailer above repeatedly, studying what we know from the various tweets and interviews with the director, checking the general opinion of the trailer so far, and with being a fan of the original movies, comic's, cartoon's and toy's five specific issues arise from what I saw in this trailer...
My first concern is the directing style. Ivan Reitman, director of the original movies is better known for his situational comedy movies such as Twins, Kindergarten Cop and Dave. Movies which do not require much fancy cinematography. Yet while directing both Ghostbuster movies, the director recognized that the epic scale of threat present in the movies required much more grandeur when framing the movie. This can be seen in iconic shots of New York, and many of its recognizable locations such as the Statue of Liberty and National Library. Yet the only shot in the trailer for the reboot that shows a mere glimpse of this grandeur is the shot of the 'ghost on stilt's'. For the majority of the trailer the cinematography feels static and formulaic.
My second concern with the trailer is the lack of genuine humor. This is probably best personified by the trailer's opening scene which is obviously a remake of the 'Grey Lady' scene from the 1984 original. In the trailer Kirsten Wiig's character tries to introduce herself only for the ghost to projectile vomit slime all over her. In the original when Ray, Egon and Peter find the ghost of the Grey Lady Ray approaches her only to be shushed before atempting to 'grab her', causing the ghost to scream at them, scaring them out of the library. This feeling of inferior jokes seems to run throughout the trailer. Director Feig has defended the cast, calling them Hollywood's funniest women. That they may be, but in the trailer any attempts at humor feel forced, archaic or just simply not funny. Having funny cast member's does not equate to a funny film, take Jim Carrey's Cable Guy as proof in point.
Another concern I have with the trailer is the inferred plot. The trailer opens up referring to the event's of the 1984 original, even showing the famous firehouse at Hook and Ladder #8, but yet the movie has been marketing thus far as a reboot, which will reportedly feature cameos of all the surviving original cast (except for Rick Moranis) but in new roles. Even Leslie Jones' character of Patty is a rehash of Ernie Hudson's Winston Zeddemore. It is mentioned in the trailer that 'someone is creating a device that is amplifying paramnormal activity', but wasn't that the role of Dana and Louis' apartment building in the original movie, the building created by Ivor Shandor as a bridge between this world and the spirit world.
Yet another concern I have with the movie is the effects, which use practical effects superimposed into the frame using CGI. This technique was used in a similar way for ghosts, no less, in the recent Scooby Doo movies. This technique lends all the ghost's with a luminescent look. Yet fan's will remember that ghosts shown in the original varied in appearance from the transparent such as the 'Grey Lady' and Slimer, to the solid specters such as Hellhounds and the zombie cab driver, and of course to the Kaiju inspired 100 feet tall Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
My final concern may only appear twice in the trailer, but considering the anti-sexism defence this movie has garnered from its cast, director and its political correctness supporter's its amazing that twice the trailer uses sexual imagery to sell the movie. Firstly we have Kate McKinnon's character suggestively licking a 'gun' from one of the proton pack's (pictured), and secondly we have the obvious 'hunk' shot of Chris Hemsworth. Using sexual imagery aimed at both men and women to market a product plagued with sexist critique and anti-sexism support feels needlessly inflammatory.
I come away from this trailer the same I did after watching trailers for the reboots of Total Recall, The Amazing Spider-Man, RoboCop and more recently Terminator Genisys with just one word - Why? Director Paul Feig could have silenced the critic's and vindicated himself with this trailer, but instead the whole thing feels inferior and pointless, the exact argument I have been throwing at this reboot since it was announced nearly two years ago. While I could be proven wrong, the plain, the simple fact is that as a Ghostbusters fan I didn't want a reboot, especially one so inferior to the original, I wanted the planned sequel. As for Paul Feig's usual target audience of women aged in their 20's-30's, it is highly doubtfull that enough of them will rally together for this movie to earn the $300 million plus needed to be considered a commercial success.
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