Two years after the 'Ghostbusters' reboot was released, has the supernatural comedy managed to shake off its reputation as a terrible movie? Because, for those who have seen it, it's possibly the best.
The third movie in the Ghostbusters franchise was released in September 2016, starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones as the new team who were set to rid New York City of its ghost infestation and save the world.
With a great cast, a director with a proven track record of making good comedies and the weight of the almighty Ghostbusters brand's heritage behind it, the 2016 movie should have been a huge success. But, even before the film was released in the cinema, potential movie-goers turned their back on the project based purely on the fact that the four lead characters were going to be female. In fact, the all female cast automatically earned the movie the label of being feminist propaganda.
"Ain't no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts."
From the moment the movie's trailer was posted on YouTube, it started racking up dislikes. The trailer built up more thumbs down votes on than any other movie trailer on the site. The video now has over a million dislikes with a 3-to-1 ratio of dislikes to likes and the comments are flooded with negativity accusing the movie of everything from sexism and racism to poor special effects and cheap laughs.
Perhaps director, Paul Feig, could never win with this movie. Could anyone ever play the roles of the Ghostbusters as well as Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson? In reality, probably not, so why even pretend? I thought it was a really smart move for Sony Pictures to make this new cast as different to the originals as possible to try to eliminate those comparisons.
I went to a press screening of the movie before it came out and I loved it, but the screening wasn't in 3D and didn't feature the post-credits sequence. So, after the movie's general release, I went to see it again and once again loved it. Then, a friend wanted to see it, so I went a third time and loved it.
I can't recall a film I've seen twice in the cinema, let alone three times. The movie, now known as 'Ghostbusters: Answer The Call' since its home release, is easily one of my favourite films of all time and it really doesn't deserve its bad reputation.
So, what was wrong with the movie?
A lot of people have commented about the special effect saying that the ghosts don't look scary and that there is too much CGI. There's a lot of CGI but remember Zuul, the dog-like creature from the original movie? It was a stop-motion model shot, the animation was terrible and jerky, even in its day it was clearly a bad composite, but it didn't detract from the story.
Modern cinema uses a lot of computer generated effects but in most cases they're pretty photo-real. Are the ghosts un-scary in the new movie? Yes. They're not scary in the original either. I think the problem is that fans of the franchise watched the first two movies as kids and they probably found some parts of the movie pretty scary at that age. Not only that, but some of the jokes are quite adult in nature and would have gone over their heads as kids, making the films less of a comedy and more of a supernatural action movie.
For example, the party scene featuring Louis Tully played by Rick Moranis, an accountant who lives in "spook central" next door to Dana. When introducing guests at his party, which he's invited all of his clients to, he discloses all of their private financial details. "Everybody, this is Ted and Annette Fleming. Ted has a small carpet cleaning business in receivership. Annette's drawing a salary from a deferred bonus from two years ago. They've got fifteen thousand left on the house at eight percent." I didn't get that gag until I was much older. Fans of the original movies are now in their late-20s or 30s, of course they're not going to get scared by ghosts in a comedy movie anymore and all of the jokes are now much more apparent to them.
Others criticised the movie for being too goofy and slapstick, but Ghostbusters has always been goofy and slapstick. Again, perhaps this went over movie-goers heads as kids but Ghostbusters is all very tongue in cheek, packed full of sudo-science mumbo-jumbo peppered with one-liners from Dr. Venkman and bumbling mistakes from Ray, like when he accidentally conjures up the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
Another complaint was that the movie over used slime and labelled it a "gross out" movie, which makes me wonder if these "fans" even saw the originals. In both Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II the team find themselves repeatedly gunged, slimed and covered in melted marshmallow. Gross out is a staple joke throughout the franchise. At the very start of the original movie Ray asks Peter to get a sample of some ectoplasmic residue, Peter retorts, "someone blows their nose and you want to keep it?" The 1989 sequel is entirely based around "mood slime".
There's even some who didn't like the childish nature of the jokes in the new movie, but... "Yes it's true... This man has no dick" - Dr. Peter Venkman.
The problem is, most of this criticism was based on the trailer alone and because the teaser clip got so much negative press, a lot of fans of the franchise were put off going to the cinema to find out what the movie was like for themselves. Similarly, the movie already had hundreds, if not thousands, of negative reviews from people who hadn't seen the film on sites like IMDb before the movie was even released.
Even with the heavy drag factor from all these negative reviews from people who didn't actually see the film, the average aggregated score online is 60%, compared to a score of 71% for the 1984 original and just 56% for the sequel, 'Ghostbusters II'. It's not a bad score.
In an online poll of the best characters from the whole franchise, predictably Bill Murray as Peter Venkman comes out on top, closely followed by Harold Ramis as Egon Spengler. But, in third place, beating Dan Aykroyd as Ray, is Leslie Jones as Patty Tolan.
Chris Hemsworth comes in at number nine on the list, just ahead of Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore, but Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Melissa McCarthy came in at 12, 16 and 20 respectively. Unfortunately, that puts them behind the likes of Zuul, Walter Peck and even the Scoleri Brothers.
Personally, I think the 2016 movie is a great reboot and when judged as a stand alone movie of this day and age, is better than the original at this moment in time. Of course, that's not to say when you mix in the nostalgia and continued love we have for the 1984 movie that that film doesn't come out on top. There will always be a special place in our hearts for Peter, Egon, Ray and Winston.
One online critic said "Ghostbusters (2016) was quite funny, it didn’t have the comic brilliance or charm of the original film", which I think is a fair comment. That's not a bad review, he's just saying, if you compare it against the original, the original wins.
The reason we all love the original is because we have all those happy, nostalgic memories of watching it as kids and playing with our Kenner Parker proton packs. If the original was released today, I think the story would be deemed to be weak, there's no real protagonist like Rowan in the new movie and the special effects would be laughed at.
'Answer The Call' is, or at least, should have been much more appropriate and palatable for a modern audience. The story is cleverer, the cinematography has improved leaps and bounds and the characters have much more depth and backstory. The reboot had so much potential and the post-credits sequence even teased a sequel featuring Zuul.
Sadly, we'll never get to see the return of Zuul as Sony canned a follow-up movie as a result of its poor ticket sales. The movie did gross $229 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing live-action comedy in the US of 2016, but with a production budget of $144 million and a high marketing budget, it was considered to be a box office flop.
Despite the fairly robust hatred of the new movie, true fans of Ghostbusters will proudly add it to their movie collection and, like me, will dig it out from time to time and enjoy it as much as the originals.