Saturday, March 12, 2016

Ghostbusting 2.0

Been sitting on this for a while... and well, here's my five cents on the matter.

So let me preface this by saying that as far as the first two Ghostbusters films are concerned, I kinda like 'em. They're not films that I would hold on any high pedestal like most older folks would, but they're funny films, they're quotable, they've got memorable moments and characters, they're well made films with some wonderful visual effects, all the usual buzzwords you'd associate with much beloved classics of the era. And of course, there's the timeless catchy wonderfully 80s theme song by the legendary Ray Parker Jr. Suffice it to say, Ghostbusters is a cherished franchise by those who grew up during its prime years, some clearly more devoted than others.

That said, while I like Ghostbusters, I don't hold it on any high pedestal, I don't treat it like a religious icon... so when the announcement came that there would be a remake, I was like "Okay, another remake. 'Cause sure, why not, fuck? What's one more?" I suppose the proper response would be "Why?" but these days, if there's an old property that people are fond of, studios will cash in with a completely superfluous remake. Now, I know people were clamoring for a Ghostbusters 3, but I think the smart ones knew it was never going to happen for a variety of reasons. My advice would be to just play the video game that released a few years ago; it's the closest you'll get to that sort of thing and they did an admirable job of it too.

So they announce the reboot and they announce that your new team of Ghostbusters will be women and their receptionist will be a man. Some people like it, some people threw a fit, I'm like... "Meh, whatever. Don't care." I don't recall ever commenting on the trailer in any online forum, but I don't think it made enough of a dent for me to go, "This needs my attention. Let me veer away from the disaster that is the Jem and The Holograms movie trailer to talk about this subject matter."

The trailer comes out, I watch it, and I'm not in the least bit interested in what they're selling.

Mind you, a teaser trailer is only a minute or so long and features a bunch of clips from the film without any semblance of context. A teaser trailer doesn't tell the whole story and it is not (nor should it be) indicative of the overall quality of the final film, but it should give you an inkling as to what the movie is about. It doesn't take a PhD in criticism to know that the purpose of a teaser or a trailer is the same as any commercial advertisement for a product - it's selling you the film. A good teaser trailer will get you hyped for a film while a bad teaser trailer will sour you on a film and this trailer... soured me on the film. It feels like a trailer for any other throwaway comedy film with unfunny jokes, uninteresting or even unlikable characters, and tired cliches.

Not quite a rousing first impression for a film that, to me at least, felt like it needed a really strong sell to convince people that this is genuinely worth their while. It's a reboot of a cherished long-tenured franchise (which, again, is another in a long line of reboots of cherished long-tenured franchises), it effectively swaps the genders of the main cast (which I never had a problem with if it was done for the right reasons), and more than anything, it's a film that I don't think a whole lot of people wanted. Again, most people were clamoring for a Ghostbusters 3, for a continuation of that original film franchise with the original cast, even though the likelihood of such a thing was minute with each passing year. Even though we had comic books, animated series, and video games to expand on that franchise, for some, they just wanted one more cinematic romp with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, the late Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson picking up the proton packs one more time and possibly passing them on to a new generation of Ghostbusters who would theoretically continue that franchise if there was intention to do so.

And that's not what this film is.

Oh, some of the old cast will make cameos, but more than likely playing other roles of lesser importance. Though the teaser eludes to four scientists saving the world from paranormal activity thirty years ago - technically, three scientists and a swig of beer for the working man - the film is strictly a reboot, a clean slate, and a new take on that classic story. Instead of Dr. Peter Venkmen, Dr. Ray Stantz, Dr. Egon Spengler, and "Swig Of Beer For The Workin' Man" Winston Zeddemore, we have Dr. Abby Yates, Dr. Erin Gilbert, Dr. Jillian Holtzman, and "Swig Of Beer For The Workin' Woman" Patty Tolan. A cause for outrage? For some, perhaps. For me... meh.

If there is a concern to be had on my part in regards to the casting, it boils down to one word: Why? Like I said, I don't have an issue with the idea of swapping genders of the main characters for the heck of it. It could be an interesting dynamic if done well or a flaming disaster if not. Ultimately, it boils down to whether the characters are compelling and interesting enough to become memorable and even likable. While the trailer doesn't show signs of that, maybe the final movie will. But my concern comes from whether we have an all-female team for the sake of being different from what came before or if it's because, should the movie bomb and the critics reign in, the defenders of the film - fans, filmmakers, or cast alike - will resort to accusations of misogynist, sexist, or any other bullshit excuse to explain away why people don't like your movie, except for the one reason that might actually matter; because it's not a good movie, you morons!

So yeah... new Ghostbusters isn't doing it for me. Maybe if the characters weren't irritable or unlikable, it would've been a different story. Hell, if all they did was change genders and kept the characterizations the same as the old characters, right down to the mannerisms, it might've gotten a chance... But again, that's just from the teaser. Maybe, just maybe, if they put out another trailer and it does a better sampler of what it's about, I might be interested...

When it hits Netflix.

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