Saturday, 1 October 2016

Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016)

Ghost Corps huh, opening credits and straight away the first sign of a planned, multi-movie franchise...they never learn. Anyway, who ya gonna call? certainly not these guys! (quick pause for my readers sides to stop splitting). Oh shit wait, I meant gals! Oh Christ now I've done it. No but seriously, who are you gonna call here? a better script writer perhaps? better cast, better effects, another director, hell just a completely different movie to this. But how bad could this really be? I ain't afraid of no gaudy, garish, neon, clearly all CGI ghosts...actually I am, shocked and horrified at just how scarily bad they actually were.

Right so things start off in much the same way the classic 84 movie did. We are given a brief little vignette that sets up the basis of the plot (its about ghosts) that will eventually lead to greater things. When I say the same as the 84 original, I meant literally, the opening scene is done in the exact same way complete with the legendary Ray Parker Jr theme tune accompanying the films main title card/shot. Now at this point I was actually on-board for the ride believe it or not, the intro sequence was actually pretty creepy. It looked quite good, it intrigued me, a nice tone of light-hearted horror, and when Ray Parker Jr's tune kicked in I actually felt a nostalgic lump in my throat, as if I'd just been zapped back to my childhood.

That's as far as it goes though because apparently the supernatural incident we see has no consequences or follow up whatsoever. The curator bloke of this old 19th century stately home seems to get attacked? killed? possessed? Unsure, but after seemingly being doomed he just pops up later, completely fine, and that story arc is never followed up for the rest of movie.

Its from this point onwards, when we meet the new characters, that virtually everything spirals out of control in an impressive fiery fireball of failure. You have the chubby McCarthy who I guess plays the Ray Stantz type character because she has the same love, enthusiasm and dedication to science and the supernatural that Ray body shape. Wiig who's the more straight-laced, apprehensive character which could be Venkman? But without the smug, dry humour. McKinnon I'm guessing is a live action female version of the cartoon Egon Spengler from The Real Ghostbusters. Same technical mind but here she's basically loopy. Lastly Jones presumably would be the Zeddmore type character because she's the streetwise, blue-collar, token black character. Admittedly the female characters are more of there own thing here, there is a hint of the classic quartet of course but generally they're relatively unique, which is good.

The main story revolves around one human villain called Rowan, a mad scientist and occultist who wishes to open a portal to the ghost world to bring about the apocalypse. In order to do this he is placing these strange devices along spiritual ley lines in New York City in order to charge them up and create a vortex. At the exact point where these ancient ley lines cross or meet, Rowan has a much larger device that when activated along with the charged up ley lines, will rip a hole into the spirit world. Oh and its where he conveniently works too. Sounds reasonable doesn't it, and it is accept for the fact that nothing is really explained. Rowan is basically a bit nuts right, OK that's fine, but why does he want to do this? Just because he's nuts? Well no, apparently its because he's a bit of a loser, an outcast with no friends and he's depressed...and that's the reason.

Secondly, what are these devices he's placing along the ley lines? How does he make them? How does he know how to charge the ley lines? How did he make such a huge single device? How does he fund all this? And of course, how does he manage to get away with making a whopping big device in the basement of the hotel where he works? Then as the plot progresses we discover that Rowan plans to kill himself in order to lead a ghost army when the apocalypse starts. But, the hell does he intend to carry that out?! Why would he be able to come back as a ghost? Does he have some kind of special gift or powers? Why would ghosts follow this guy?? How does he manage to not only come back as a ghost, but a seriously powerful ghost just like Gozer the Gozerian?

Around this main premise you have all the standard fare which you basically got in the original. The ladies create their own equipment and develop it over the course of the film, naturally all the gear is strewn with various flashing LED's because that apparently makes it look cooler. They manage to pick up an old hearse to use for transportation which they call 'Ecto 1' because of course they do. They get themselves natty ghost catching uniforms which make them look like garbage collectors (seriously under designed, was that the best production could come up with? Grey jumpsuits with orange go-faster stripes?), and they trap ghosts. When I say trap ghosts I mean one, one single entity with a huge fuck off ghost trap that looks like a torpedo.

The film is called Ghostbusters but we only see them trap one ghost, they also have nowhere to store the ghost once caught. This leads me to the finale of the movie where the ladies have developed their equipment so much, they are now able to kill ghosts? I seriously have no idea what happens here, the proton packs sort of lasso the ghosts and enable them to be dragged along the floor...for what reason? The girls are tossing ghosts around, throwing them into each other, sucking them into a ghost chipper type thing, punching them (yes) and generally blowing them up somehow. So is this universe you can effectively kill a ghost of reduce it to ectoplasm (I'm guessing they would call it that seeing as they ripped-off everything else) by punching it and sucking it into a chipper type machine. I won't even go into the awful slow motion action sequence where Holtzmann does some kind of John Woo/Neo shit with two pistol sized particle throwers.

Whilst all this slapstick action is going off the effects offer us a mixed result, two sides of a coin for sure. Whilst the general look of the movie is naturally very glossy, colourful and slick, it can't help but look like a cartoon. There are numerous shots that have been blatantly copied from the 84 classic but it still can't detract from the fact the film looks childish overall. This also goes for the general tone of the flick too, it really doesn't know what the hell its going for, light-hearted kids comedy, edgy horror comedy, mainstream comedy, Feig comedy etc...The equipment looks just like I expected it to, plastic and obviously fake, no amount of flashing LED's can change that, but luckily they have kept the iconic particle thrower beam close to what we all know and love.

Yes I realise that's me being hypocritical as I've complained about them ripping-off other things from the 84 original, but this was one thing that needed to remain, anything else simply wouldn't do. As for the CGI...well it doesn't help matters at all, that's not to say its bad, it just doesn't fit this franchise. As many have already said, the CGI looks ridiculous and much like some other movies such as 'Haunted Mansion' and the Scooby-Doo flicks. The large green dragon/demon ghost in the concert sequence actually looked like something from The Real Ghostbusters. Its virtually all bright neon effects making almost every scene with ghosts look like the interior of a nightclub, why would ghosts be so bright and colourful? This also doesn't help the actors who are clearly standing in front of greenscreens. My only positive is Rowan in logo form who does look pretty good and made me wonder how sweet a modern Mr Stay Puft would look these days. Other than that the 84 original effects still blow this out of the water.

The deciding factor in this movies downfall is quite frankly the fact its hideously unfunny. End of the day its a comedy, but it sucks. The ladies try their best to come across as amusing and its just embarrassing to watch, cringeworthy at the best of times. The performances are muted and bland at best, McCarthy is simply McCarthy yet again, Wiig is dull as dishwater and clearly not really enjoying herself, and I've no fucking clue what McKinnon thought she was doing because it wasn't funny in the slightest. Oh but she was so quirky, off the wall and she wasn't, she looked unique but acted like a fool. Lastly we have the mighty walking controversy that is Jones. Amazingly best of the quartet and easily the most relatable and believable, who'd of thought it huh.

Although, still have no idea why her character would quit her stable, dependable job on the subway to join a risky venture in ghost catching. That seemed totally unrealistic to me, no one would do that without some form of plan or guarantee. In the original Zeddmore needed a job so he took what he could get, that made sense, not this. So that's the four ladies, anything else? oh yes, Chris Hemsworth, the hypocritical, highly ironic, reverse sexist character that somehow evaded Feig's all out politically correct, all accepting agenda. Or did it? was this a deliberate move by Feig? along with the reshot scenes of meta references to the internet rage and fanboys, and the casual man-bashing we see liberally sprinkled throughout. Well I think its pretty obvious now from what you can read and watch online but that aside, this character was annoyingly shit and an insult to the franchise.

Oh yeah, way WAY too many needless, pointless cameos. Did the movie need a cameo from Ozzy Osbourne? or any of the original cast? They could of at least not made them so bloody blatant, it gave the movie a Zoolander-esque vibe at times for Christ's sake. What was the point of crowbarring in a cameo from Sigourney Weaver in the end credits?? Come to think of it, what was the point of the Slimer cameo other than gratuitous pandering to the fanboys to try and get them into cinemas. But they couldn't even do that right, horrific CGI aside, they gave the spook a female partner! (basically Slimer with lipstick and a wig). What the literal fuck?! Its things like this that truly make you wonder what's going on behind the scenes, who the hell thought that would be a good idea?

So is this movie passable and enjoyable as some professional critics dubiously wrote? Well sort of...if you completely put aside all the Ghostbusters franchise aspect of it and look at it as a completely independent movie. In that case then yes, you could say its reasonably entertaining, or maybe as a live action adaptation of the cartoon at best, but only in those cases. Is the movie as bad as some have made it out to be? Yes I'm afraid it a reboot of such a legendary, iconic franchise as Ghostbusters, yes it is that bad, shamefully bad. 

The humour is seriously lacking with terrible dialog, there's no real tension anywhere, no real threats, you never worry about the characters safety, you don't really care about the characters, and the entire finale was a huge anti-climax. The film just didn't engage me in any way, everything was simply mundane, no excitement, no thrills, nothing. At one point I did wonder why the film didn't look 'New Yorkish' to me, turns out they filmed in Boston for Pete's sake! I mean seriously, if you can't even do the location justice, how can you expect to do the film justice. This in turn leads to a world that isn't believable because it consists of sets, greenscreen sets and locations that aren't New York. 

Basically this doesn't really feel like a proper supernatural comedy or fantasy movie. It feels much more like a parody of the genres, and a poor parody at that. The whole thing is subpar, at times shockingly shallow, limited and chock full of tropes, cliches and stereotypes. Whilst at the same time merrily showing complete contempt for the main target demographic, the (dare I say male) fanbase. After all those years, all the speculation and talk, what a completely wasted opportunity which unfortunately looks to have put the kibosh on the future of the franchise.