Ghostbusters (2016) Review

I’ll just come out and say it right here in the very beginning of the review: the new Ghostbusters movie is totally worth seeing. Despite what you may have heard from angry man-children about the movie being a rip off of the original, the all female cast, or any other random “concern” they could pull out of their hats, Ghostbusters is a funny and well made film.

So there you have it. That could be the whole review. You should definitely go see this movie. But if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of the film, read on below. The film does a lot that’s worth talking about and I feel like I would be doing the movie a disservice if I didn’t dive into what made the film tick.

The movie opens with one of the fastest first acts I’ve seen in my life, with Kristin Wiig’s character Erin being up for tenure review at her university. She’s currently a big name physicist, but she had an “unfortunate” past with the paranormal and is now doing everything she can to hide that from her current employers. Unfortunately for her, her former best friend Abby (Melissa McCarthy) has put the paranormal science book they wrote up on Amazon for all to see. It’s the first thing you see when you Google Erin’s name.

So she marches down to Abby’s workplace to demand that she take the book down. But after some exposition and an introduction to Ghostbuster’s highlight character (Kate McKinnon’s Holtzmann), we’re off to the races. Erin is back tracking ghosts and her estranged relationship with Abby is instantly repaired.

It’s then the movie moves into your more familiar origin story. They find their base of operations, get better equipment, and so on and so forth. Nothing about the story of Ghostbusters is necessarily breaking new ground in the story department, but it does so with heart and humor. That more than can be said for most movies these days.

The movie is funnier than the trailers give it credit for. Characters like Leslie Jones Patty and Chris Hemsworth Kevin are standouts in the film, providing a lot of the movie’s funnier moments. Hemsworth especially is adorably funny as the beefcake who thinks that covering his eyes means he can’t hear anything.

Special mention has to be given – again – to Kate McKinnon’s Holtzmann. The character is easily the most “out there” of the four, but she owns that weirdness in a way that makes her incredibly endearing. The other characters don’t berate her, or get annoyed her antics. They accept her quirks and embrace them. It’s a celebration of weirdness.

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It’s worth noting though, that of the main characters, Holtzmann’s back story is pretty much unexplored. All the other characters have time dedicated to where they came from and who they were before ghost hunting was their thing. But for Holtzmann, part of her character involved being gay. Paul Fieg has confirmed as much, but said they had to cut all mentions of it due to “studio pressure”. It kind of explains a touching moment at the end of the film, that may seem out of place to many who don’t know this ahead of time. It’s unfortunate that her character got a chop job because of close-minded pressures, but at the same time it’s a testament to McKinnon’s performance that the character stands out despite that.

Moving along, if the first act was too short, the third act is a tad too long. The final battle takes on many forms and seems a bit over drawn, like maybe a segment could have been cut. But it’s fun spectacle of colors and action in way that brings Ghostbusters into the modern action genre. It’s also capped off by a few great jokes involving our very own Kevin.

If Ghostbuster has a glaring flaw, it’s its need to reference the original movie. As a reboot of a “beloved” franchise, there’s a reasoning behind bringing back those who came before you. To that effect, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver all have cameos in the movie. Some of them are better than others, like Hudson’s cameo. Others such as Dan Aykroyd’s feel out of place and are given way more screen time than they deserve. The only glaring omissions are Rick Moranis and Harold Ramis. Ramis, who died before the release of the movie, has a dedication to his name at the very end.

Other than that, Ghostbusters is a fun film that celebrates smart, weird, and kick-ass women. It’s funny and has a charm to it that’s unique to something like Ghostbusters. It keeps the spirit of the original film while pushing it forward to the modern age. As stated above, Ghostbusters is a well made movie that absolutely deserves your attention, if nothing else for some standout performances from characters you may not expect them from.

 

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Captain America: Civil War Review

Even though it has the title “Civil War”, it actually has very little to do with the comic storyline it takes the title from. There’s the core starting point: registration for all super-powered beings on earth. And like in the comics, Tony Stark sits on one side while Captain America sits on the other. But that’s about where the similarities start and end.

This version of Civil War deals with the search for the Winter Soldier after he supposedly blew up a political conference, killing several high profile people including the father of The Black Panther. This sets him on a quest for vengeance, Tony Stark wants to arrest the Winter Soldier, and naturally, Captain America wants to find his friend and keep him safe.

SRyYQZ.0.0You may be led to believe that the villain of this film is someone named Zemo. He has nothing to do with his comic book counterpart in this film and more or less meanders around the movie. His entire purpose exists to be a plot mechanic instead of an actual antagonist. He moves around the world, causing problems and setting up things in order for the movie to move along. But in the end he does very little, especially since his plan hinges on people being in a certain spot at a certain time, at the same time. It’s all very convenient and kind of damages the impact of certain scenes.

But the real action of the movie has to do with Cap and Stark. Their relationship has always been one of begrudged friendship and that’s been crumbling steadily since the opening of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Things go into overdrive over the course of the film, and thanks to a third act revelation, pretty much falls apart entirely. Civil War is a movie that – like other Marvel movies – you can more or less enjoy without having seen the others, but things wouldn’t have the same impact if you’ve been following the movies since the beginning. These characters have come super far since the original Iron Man movie and this movie feels like a culmination of that.

There are a few additional standouts. Black Panther is pretty amazing in this movie. Chadwick Boseman’s fits the role so well that the movie is immediately better when he’s on screen. I’m definitely excited to see how Black Panther’s solo movie turns out.

3058531-1280_captain_america_civil_war_black_pantherThe other is of course the one and only Spider-man. Spider-man is one of the best and worst things about Civil War. Tom Holland is great in the role, and Spider-man’s action scenes are great. But you can tell that Spider-man wasn’t meant to be in this movie originally. The plot literally stops for fifteen minutes in order to introduce Peter Parker and get him up to speed with the rest of the movie. It’s unfortunate, as the movie suffers from enough pacing problem as it is.

Of course the most important aspect of a mash up movie such as this is the action. What we really want is to see our favorite heroes knock each other around and boy does this movie live up to that. There’s a really good fight between both “teams” in the middle of the movie where everyone from Spider-man to Ant-man gets to show off their skills. The fight kind of suffers from a “why didn’t you open with that” mentality a bit, but otherwise it’s really exciting.

The fight towards the third act is not only way more brutal, but more tragic. It’s here that you realize the damage that’s been done by both people can’t be repaired easily and both are looking to spill blood. This one isn’t made for cheering and popcorn fluff, it rings more sad than fun.

captain-america-civil-war-still-1The movie also attempts to deal with some heavy themes, as most comic book movies do. In this case it’s the idea of a world police and the freedom to choose. It’s here that the movie feels almost too short, as the ideas aren’t nearly as explored as they could be. The movie takes more time dealing with the comic book-y aspects of the plot and sort of passes off the debates of these themes after the first act. By the time the movie finishes, you’ll forget entirely that the movie began because of a registration act.

Overall Captain America: Civil War is a great film. It isn’t as tight as Winter Soldier, or even Guardians of the Galaxy, but it ranks up there as one of Marvel’s top films. The implications of this film on the wider MCU are large and will no doubt take their toll on films to come (in a good, dramatic way that is). It’s worth remembering that this is the last time we’ll see most of these heroes – Black Panther and Spider-man not withstanding – for several years to come. So for things to end on a tragic note is bittersweet, but one that feels earned over the course of three Iron Man movies, two Avengers movies, and three Captain America movies.