When I heard back in 2015 that the Ghostbusters franchise was getting a reboot, I was pretty excited! I may have been one of the few that was excited for it, as it was met with immediate backlash from both its casting of an all-female team and it being a reboot. Of course, I’m in the same boat when it comes to unwarranted remakes and reboots but never in a million years would I have heard controversy as stupid as having an all-female Ghostbusters team. The controversy was so intense even President Donald Trump weighed in his two cents on the project, and I think we all know how that went.
2016’s Ghostbusters follows childhood friends and paranormal scientists Erin Gilbert (played by Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (played by Melissa McCarthy) as they investigate an increasing amount of supernatural events around the city. With other additions to the team like Jillian Holtzman (played by Kate McKinnon) and Patty Tolan (played by Leslie Jones), it is up to these four women to stop the apocalypse from destroying New York City and the world. There are many similarities between this film and the original, such as no one believing the scientists when they make major paranormal discoveries; especially in the age of the internet.
I would say a major difference between these two films was that we have a human villain, one that isn’t really elevated by the supernatural until the 3rd act. The villain, Rowan North (played by Neil Casey), isn’t necessarily an intimidating foe. In fact, he’s kinda lackluster and forgettable; using bullying from others as his motivation to completely destroy humanity. These motives are more for a personal story rather than a blockbuster about global domination. I didn’t even remember his name until looking it up online. The only time he actually poses a threat to our protagonists is after he kills himself to become a spirit. And then he inhabits the body of the team’s airheaded secretary Kevin (played by Chris Hemsworth).
Can we all address the fact that these are some of the funniest actors working today, from Melissa McCarthy’s consistent track record with Paul Feig along with Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones all being alumni from Saturday Night Live (1975-). But when it comes to great characters and humor none can compete with Kevin or Holtzman. Kevin alone is an amazing character, mostly for being a ditz who doesn’t know how a phone works; the fact that he is played perfectly by Chris Hemsworth, who was mostly known for his Marvel movies up to this point only adds to the hilarity, but he also has a tendency to take the spotlight away from the story at times because he is such a gut-buster.
Kate McKinnon is another standout, bringing her signature quirky comedy to the odd duck, but naturally gifted engineer Holtzman. She gives off quite a few Venkman vibes, if Venkman actually cared about his work. But with her comedic timing mixed with some great action sequences, it allows for your jaw to hit the floor in awe. Just like in the climax when she faces off against a ghost as if it were a video game boss, as Holtzman busts out her custom weapons to take on said ghost. She beats him like a badass and still has time for a hilariously quirky, yet killer one-liner. It’s just one of the few great moments of comedy in an otherwise okay film, which is one of the many reasons why she AND Kevin steal the show from everyone else.
Ghostbusters (2016) was good, it wasn’t great OR terrible, but good. I can understand not wanting a remake of the beloved 1984 classic, as that too holds a special place in my heart as well as all cinephiles, but to say that the gender swap was a bad idea was truly unnecessary. Yes, it’s a remake and will NEVER live up to the legacy of the original. But did you guys really have to scream this loud?! I do not know if the controversy surrounding the film caused it to bomb as badly as it did, but it definitely killed the potential of a sequel to the 2016 film. However, it did give the studio the greenlight to create a sequel to the original Ghostbusters, just a few years later. Seriously, we’ve got another Ghostbusters sequel coming out? Because of the backlash of the remake?! I am more skeptical about this sequel than I was about the reboot, but that is mostly because of how fast it was announced after 2016’s Ghostbusters failed; even if it is in the capable hands of Jason Reitman and Paul Rudd. Despite my skepticism, my curiosity is still intrigued with how Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) will build upon the original ‘84 film.