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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X-Men: Days of Future Past Review

This has been a long time coming. The X-Men franchise has had its fair share of missteps with entries like X3 and Wolverine Origins. But with subsequent movies they’ve managed to bring the series closer to its former glory. DOFP furthers that goal, making it one of the best X-Men movies in recent memory.

The year is 2023 and the mutants are nearly extinct. Grand weapons called Sentinels are after them, wiping them out one by one until no one is left. In a last ditch effort, Professor X (Sir Patrick Stewart) comes up with a plan to send Wolverine back in time to stop the Sentinels from ever being built. In order to do so he’ll have to find Xavier’s younger self (played by James McAvoy) and bring him back together with Magneto’s (Sir Ian McKellen) younger self (played by Michael Fassbender). Of course back then they weren’t the closest of friends and so begins Wolverine’s quest to bring them together again.

When Wolverine is sent back, we’re thrown into the 1970’s, but the movie doesn’t shy away from cutting back to the present day. In a bit of time travel trickery, Wolverine can only be in the past for so long. If he takes too long to complete the mission, the rest of the mutants will die – the Sentinels are on their way. This adds a bit of urgency to the plot, but not a lot happens in the present day aside from the opening and a few action scenes, most of which felt ultimately unnecessary. There’s plenty of action and much better set pieces back in the 1970’s storyline. The two timelines only converge briefly for a conversation between young Xavier and present Xavier. It’s a great scene between two amazing actors, and it’s one of the films pivotal moments. Aside from that though there isn’t much happening in the present timeline.

For Wolverine, being stuck in the past has its own set of problems. This is a Wolverine without his metal claws, and a Xavier who’d rather sacrifice his powers in order get his legs back. Much of the movie is spent with Wolverine trying to convince Xavier that it’s worth getting his powers back and help stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence in a standout role) from causing the mutant apocalypse.

McAvoy shines as a tortured Xavier. He wants nothing more to forget the past and spend the rest of his days drinking away in an overgrown mansion. McAvoy translates Xavier’s pain and makes us feel for him. The said can be same of Fassbender, who portrays a Magneto who might actually regret some of the choices he made.

The rest of the cast is great too. Jennifer Lawrence has a much more significant role this time around and manages it perfectly. Peter Dinklage is amazing as always, but his villain in Bolivar Trask falls a bit short. There’s never any real understanding of what his motivation is. He states in the movie that he admires mutants and is fascinated by what they do, yet he’s building the Sentinels that will come to the destroy them. Does he want money? Power? It’s never really explained.

Another role that “stands out” so to speak, is Evan Peters’ Quicksilver. The character drew much ire from online circles who criticized the character’s look, which sticks way too close to the comics for comfort. That said, Quicksilver’s role in the movie is short and sweet. He has a fun slow-motion sequence and is then abandoned for the rest of the movie. This works just fine as the way Peters plays Quicksilver could easily get frustrating if get around much longer.

The X-Men series has never been one for keeping to continuality when it doesn’t suit them, but there are some glaring errors that are hard to ignore if you’ve seen any of the past movies. For example, how is Professor X still alive? Why does Wolverine have metal claws, for when we last saw him they were back to bone? How does Kitty Pryde suddenly have time traveling powers? These are things that might bother a more hardcore fan of the series, but your average viewer probably won’t even realize there’s an issue.

Perhaps the most important part of DOFP is that it’s not just about Wolverine. The character has more or less been the star of every movie he’s been in. Not so this time. While he plays a very important role in the story, the bulk of the plot is given to Xavier and Magneto. It helps give the movie a larger sense of scale and importance. This isn’t just about one man. There are other people who have issues they need to overcome in order to help save the world.

The movie ends on an interesting note. It’s one that leaves many questions open, one’s we may not get answers to for some time. But overall X-Men: Days of Future Past is the best X-Men movie we’ve had in years. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who thought the series had fallen from greatness. This will easily pull you back in.