Reviews of Ghostbusters (1984) and related work
‣ Ghostbusters II (1989)
‣ Ghostbusters (2016)
Seen in 2019.
Review refers to the extended version.
Forward-port to the time of production and a gender swap.
A lot of people thought the 1989 sequel was uncalled for, and it was. The 2016 remake is much the same: Neither more nor less cynical, original or entertaining. It’s mainly a cash grab, built on name recognition, Zeitgeist and a new crop of SNL celebrities. Nobody’s pretending that it replaces or improves upon the original and everybody would have gotten along fine without it. The $144 million production brings some neat special effects but the action still looks flat. It’s a comedy after all: a hyper-commercial riff, its climactic hijinks fit for Times Square, which is indeed where they take place. It’s the Lego Movie of queefs, but it does have more story than Gantz: O (2016), a slightly earlier ghostly CG action spectacle among the commercial billboards of a major city, with the same bullshit concept of general public ignorance.
The music is boring and the back references are excessive, especially Slimer and the Stay Puft mascot; those characters should never have been reused. I like the jokes about careless instrumentalization of high-energy physics but the technobabble drops to the level of Star Trek (1966), including a polarity reversal, which is as tired as Rowan’s dieselpunk tech. On the other hand, the jokes about cliché ghost ontology are surprisingly well written and performed for a movie that chickens out of other worldbuilding and, ultimately, of any consequences for people other than the main characters. The tour guide faking it and the bumbling authorities covering it up with specific references to Fortean mysteries are actually good by the standards of the franchise. Rowan also makes a fine kooky villain; the character is appropriate and not a cliché, even if his plan is a little less interesting than the paper-thin quasi-Cthuloid incursion of the original.