By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
* Spoiler Alert
Anyone is capable of being a Ghostbuster, and no degree is needed — filmmakers included. While I would have liked a continuation with the founding team, this rebooted product helmed by Paul Feig is fine. It succeeded at being very entertaining. For those craving the original team, I recommend Ghostbusters: The Videogame (available for the PS3, Xbox and PC) where Dan Aykroyd and team helped fashion the narrative. From that non-theatrical product, the idea of how to continue as a business is put forth: training a new generation is required or franchising out.
I read the many pitches to bring the original team back, but with all the waffling going on, ultimately (as Bruce Boxleitner said to me about TRON 3 during Fan Expo Vancouver 2014) it is up to the studio executives if they really want it or not. Ivan Reitman could not imagine directing another Ghostbusters movie after Harold Ramis’ passing. He gave creative control back to the studio. They were allowed to do whatever they wanted. Violet Ramis Stiel affirmed this fact in her essay for SplitSider. She further added, “There can be no Ghostbusters without my dad! They blew it by waiting too long and now it can never happen. At the moment, that felt right…
“This community grew out of the seed of the original films but has taken on a life of its own far beyond anything the creators could have imagined, and it’s beautiful.
“So let’s take a page out of the Ghostheads’ book and not restrict the Ghostbusters universe from extending as far and wide as it possibly can. Let’s be generous and make room for all of the visions and interpretations of what Ghostbusters can be. I still get annoyed when I see blond cartoon Egon, but who cares?! It’s a 20-year-old cartoon! The new movie is not the original and it’s not trying to be. Give it a chance and go see it!”
I was moved by Stiel’s words and what I offer is a look at the material Paul Feig is putting into the lore than to recycle most of the arguments already heard before.
This writer/director deserves props for creating worthwhile 3D that pops out of the IMAX screen. I recommend checking with the theatre if they are matting (letterboxing) their presentation or not before going to a specific location. The special effects work is excellent. It’s not lazy at all. The fact he was deploying as many practical effects as possible is wonderful and when half the ghouls look like they came from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop (like the demon during the concert setpiece), there was an added familiarity to this product. He wanted to recreate moments from the 80’s and not all of them have to be from the original film. The improved hazy look of the spectres recalls the look some spirits had in the movie Poltergeist and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the effects people improved upon it. The way the film is matted to have the phantoms and photon beams appear outside of the frame is very welcome. I do not recall any other movie employing this technique and all I have to say is it’s about bloody time!
The hauntings the Ghostbusters team are familiar to those who know the two films very well. While the first spectre is a reimagining of the Library Ghost and the spooky tension is developed much the same way, the “big boo” moment is not necessarily a carbon copy. A back story was offered, and that was not done before.
Unlike the previous film, where Ivo Shandor built a high-rise complex to concentrate energies from the cosmos to bring deadly gods to this planet, the villain in this movie, Rowan North (Neil Casey) is out to charge the ley lines (a specific pattern of land said to contain mystic energy) to bring forth the power to break open the barrier between the ghost world and the living. That’s where Patty Tolan’s (Leslie Jones) historical knowledge of the city comes in handy. She has a lot of time on her hands as a subway clerk. With everyone ignoring her, she can read history books. In what she knows helps explain why Rowan is targeting certain areas of the city. She even knows what took place at specific locations even before Manhattan was built. My favourite is at what happened at the spot where Hotel Mercado lays now. Some can say who needs Gettysburg when you have Mercado! I suspect there are shades of Poltergeist lore snuck into this movie, especially with how the Other Side looks. Just how they deal with Rowan is only a beginning, if everything Patty knows ties into a greater conspiracy. She is the only person concerned with the fourth cataclysm, whatever that may be.