tek's rating: ½

Ghostbusters (PG-13)
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Caution: spoilers!

This is a 2016 reboot (also known as "Ghostbusters: Answer the Call") of the 1984 classic Ghostbusters, but it's not a sequel. In this continuity, the original (and its sequel) never happened. Of course, as soon as it was announced in 2014, I was eager to see it. And of course, people (mainly men) immediately started disparaging it, sight unseen, because the four main characters are women instead of men. (Which, of course, made me, and probably a lot of other people, even more eager to see it, just because, you know, fuck misogyny. But I will say that the online hating of the movie made a little "never read the comments" joke in the movie that much more enjoyable.) Incidentally, in April, a few months before the movie came out, it was announced that Hi-C's Ecto Cooler would be released for a limited time, starting on May 30. (It had first been sold in 1989, when "Ghostbusters II" came out, and was discontinued in 1997, at least under the name "Ecto Cooler." I don't recall if I ever actually had any of the drink during its initial run, but I was eager to try it, now. Alas, I have been unable to find it any any stores near me.) Anyway, I didn't expect I'd get a chance to see the movie in a theater, but I did, a couple of weeks after it opened. And I thought it was pretty awesome. Maybe not quite as funny as the original, but still pretty damn funny. And I loved the special effects. (Anyone who didn't, could not possibly have been watching the same movie as me. Seriously, they were way better than the special effects in the original. And I don't think there was anything wrong with those.) And I really liked all of the characters. The cast is also pretty great, though I'm afraid I don't know most of them as well as I'd like to. I mainly know Melissa McCarthy from Gilmore Girls, but she's had a very impressive movie career since then, in movies that I haven't seen. And I don't really know Kristen Wiig or Kate McKinnon or Leslie Jones from anything; they've all been on Saturday Night Live, but they each joined the cast sometime after I stopped watching. They've all also been in a lot of movies I haven't seen. But hopefully someday I'll remedy that. The cast also includes Chris Hemsworth. And there are fun cameos by most of the actors from the original movie, in new roles. But what I thought was really cool was that two of the actors in this movie, Neil Casey and Karan Soni, were both in the webseries Other Space. (TV Tropes mentions some other actors from that series having small appearances in this movie, but I'm afraid I didn't notice them.)

Anyway, now that that's out of the way, I should get to the plot. It begins with a guy giving a tour of a really old mansion, and telling the tour group about a multiple homicide that happened there long ago. Later that night, the tour guide is attacked by the ghost of the girl who committed the murders. The next day, a professor at Columbia University named Dr. Erin Gilbert (Wiig) is preparing to teach a class, when a man comes in to talk to her about a book she had co-written years ago with her friend, Dr. Abby Yates (McCarthy). It was a book about ghosts, which Erin had disavowed, because she wanted to be seen as a respectable scientist. She's shocked to learn that their book, which was supposed to be out of print, was now being sold on Amazon in multiple formats. She finds out that her estranged friend Abby is now working at some small college, and goes there to demand she take the book offline, for fear of damaging her reputation. While there, she meets an engineer named Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon), who is now working with Abby. (Before I even saw the movie, I was pretty sure Holtzmann would be my favorite character, and now that I've seen it, I'm pretty sure I was right.) Abby agrees to consider removing the book from Amazon, but only after Erin tells her about the man who had come to see her, who represented the mansion that was haunted. They all go check the place out, and see the ghost. They put a video of it online (as well as Erin's excited reaction to seeing a ghost). This video ends up being seen by the administrators at Columbia, and just as she feared, Erin is fired. So, Abby invites her to work at her school, but she ends up being fired, too. So Abby, Erin, and Holtzmann go into business for themselves. And they hire a handsome but dimwitted secretary named Kevin (Hemsworth). (As funny as all the women in this movie are, I gotta say Hemsworth is pretty funny, too, just because his character reaches new heights of dimwittedness, the likes of which I don't think I've ever seen before in any movie or TV show. And I have seen some pretty dimwitted characters. Like, it's hard to imagine how Kevin even gets through life. ...Of course, some detractors of the film are offended by the character, but holy crap, people... just shut up. He's a funny character, end of story.)

Meanwhile, an MTA worker named Patty Tolan (Jones) sees a guy who had just said some crazy things walk onto the subway track, so she goes to look for him, so he won't get hit by a train. She doesn't find him, but she does find a strange device he had set up, which opens a portal into the ghost dimension. A ghost comes through and scares Patty, so she becomes the first person to take the Ghostbusters seriously. (Though incidentally, that's not a name they chose for themselves. They wanted a more professional-sounding name for their business, but the media basically foisted "Ghostbusters" upon them.) They all go back to the subway, see the ghost, and barely get out alive. Subsequently, Patty joins the team as the fourth Ghostbuster. (She also provides a car for them, which she borrowed from her uncle.) They begin having some success (the first ghost they actually manage to catch is at a metal concert, which I thought was amusingly apt, since it looked exactly like the kind of holographic demon you'd expect to see at a metal concert, if it were a particularly awesome show). They also attract the attention of the Mayor and his staff, who believe in what the Ghostbusters are doing, but want them to stop (or at least stop drawing attention to themselves), for reasons. Anyway... the crazy guy from the subway is a frustrated misanthropic genius named Rowan North (Casey), who has a plan to overrun New York City with ghosts, of whom he hopes to become the leader. The Ghostbusters eventually figure out that he's the one planting the devices like the one in the subway, and try to stop him. And they're apparently successful, but it later turns out his plan is still underway. Beyond that, I don't want to reveal any more of the plot. (It probably seems like I've said a lot already, but trust me, I've left out a lot of details both up to and beyond this point.)

Anyway... like I said, the movie is funny, and I think it has great characters, great special effects, and I also thought it occasionally was actually slightly scary. But one of the things I'd heard before I saw the movie was that it spent a lot more time than the original focusing on the creation of the tech used by the Ghostbusters. So I thought I was prepared for that, but I was wrong. There was a lot more tech than in the original, and it was all pretty awesome. The proton packs were pretty similar to the original, but it was really cool how many neat gadgets Holtzmann invented. And I really liked the fact that the tech all actually looked like stuff that was cobbled together by a mad genius with no budget. In fact, that was just part of a larger feeling I had about the movie as a whole, that it was sort of more... natural... than the original. As much fun as the original was, it never felt to me like something that could actually happen. The reboot, on the other hand, has a sort of DIY realism that put me in mind of movies like Kick-Ass and Batman Begins. And if such comparisons don't tell you how good this movie is, I don't know what will.

Oh, and I also need to mention that early in the closing credits, there are a few good bonus scenes. After that, it's just credits, but they're creative and fun to watch. And then there's a post-credits scene that sets up a potential sequel. (Though I'm afraid that's not gonna happen.)

Ghostbusters * The Real Ghostbusters * Ghostbusters II * (Ghostbusters: Answer the Call) * Ghostbusters: Afterlife

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