Ghostbusters (2016) – Review

Review Format 1 - The Plot Spot

This 2016 reboot of the beloved franchise, “Ghostbusters,” sees the successful Dr. Erin Gilbert, played by Kristen Wiig, haunted by a paranormal studies book she had written years ago with her one-time friend, Dr. Abby Yates, played by Melissa McCarthy. The book, which she had thought was never released, threatens to undermine her serious career and reputation, so she searches out Dr. Yates to force her to cease its publication.

Instead, when she is reunited with Yates and her wonderfully weird assistant Dr. Jillian Holtzman, played by Kate McKinnon, they are all sucked into an investigation of a paranormal event. When footage of their investigation hits the internet, Gilbert’s career is over, so she joins Yates and Holtzman in forming a paranormal investigation group, the “Department of the Metaphysical Examination,” based out of an upper room above a bad chinese restaurant.

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From there, the “Ghostbusters,” as they come to be known, develop technology for dealing with the spirits they meet. They recruit the amazingly unintelligent receptionist Kevin Beckman, played by Chris Hemsworth, as well as a fourth Ghostbuster, Leslie Jones. They go about their work while struggling for recognition from a disbelieving public. All the while, a terrible danger arises that threatens the entire city with destruction. Only the Ghostbusters are equipped to handle this threat, yet they do not fully understand the scope of the villain’s plans. Can they figure out what is going on in time to stop the oncoming ghostly apocalypse?

Review Format 2 - Target Audience

This movie was directed by Paul Feig, and it is a movie that I believes falls very much in line with his skills and sensibilities. That is to say, if you enjoy the humor of his movies, you will probably enjoy this film. If you are not a Feig fan, you will probably not like this movie. It is a comedy first and foremost. If you are going into this movie looking for supernatural thrills, it’s not really for you. If you’re looking for intense, well conceived and choreographed action set pieces, this film is not for you. This film is a Feig show, through and through.

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Also, do not be confused by the title. This film is not aimed at the diehard fans of the original “Ghostbusters” movie. It doesn’t have the same style, the same humor, and it avoids most of the same aesthetics except for the basic outfits and the look of the car. There is certainly some “Ghostbusters” flavoring in the mix, and the plot is very similar to both of the previous films, but this movie has a very distinct and different feel and chemistry. If you go in expecting a tonal successor to the original, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

Review Format 3 - The Short Take

This film is at its best when the characters are talking and interacting with one another. Importantly, the characters are unique to themselves – they are not stand-ins for the original 80s group. There is great chemistry between the leads, and their personalities and senses of humor riff well off of one another.

The film is really quite funny. The jokes are mostly hits, even though there are definite misses too. At least it isn’t full of fart and vomit jokes, like the trailers implied. It isn’t exactly high-brow, but I didn’t have to roll my eyes more than once, and I found myself chuckling quite a bit. I think I even laughed out loud once or twice.

However, there are plenty of serious flaws. While the designs of the ghosts aren’t bad (in fact in some places it is as strong as the original), the CGI-heavy nature of the final battle goes over the top and the film suffers for it. The plot follows most of the same beats as the original two, and the villain is the cheesiest out of all three films. I will say that while the bad guy is pretty lame in the first half of the film, he does get much better in the second half.

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The worst offenders, however, were the terrible pacing, editing, and cinematography. The editing is choppy, the framing is plain and uninteresting, and the pacing is lethargic when it needed to be active and too quick when it needed to slow down, with poor transitions between the two. Combine this all with the fact that the action scenes in the film were poorly staged and it just robs the story of the energy and intensity it needed in the climax of the movie.

If you insist on judging this film strictly against the ‘84 original, this film can’t be anything but a massive disappointment. It doesn’t match that film’s originality or humor, and I doubt any movie could – the original is one of the great comedies of all time. When judged on its own merits, however, this film is very fun. It is a basic popcorn-munching summer blockbuster worth seeing at matinee price. Don’t get me wrong, “Ghostbusters” (2016) is not great, but neither is it a train wreck. In fact, I might even pick it up if I found it in…

3-4 Rating - The Bargain Bin

If you want to know more about my rating systems, check out what each rating means HERE.

If you enjoyed this review, keep on reading for “The Long Take” and “Spoiler Talk,” and don’t forget to support me on Patreon!

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Zootopia – Review

 

Review Format 1 - The Plot Spot

Trailer Here

Millions of years ago, in a world without humans, predators and prey evolved out of their hunting and gathering ways, abandoned their adversarial relationship, and built a modern civilization of peace and cooperation together. Zootopia is a major city in this anthropomorphic world, and serving on its police force is the dream of one small country rabbit, Judy Hopps. Against all odds, and through hard work and determination, she manages to accomplish her dream and joins the force.

Despite her accomplishments, she finds that her struggles aren’t over. The captain of the police doesn’t have any faith in her abilities and assigns her to meter-maid duty. She reluctantly carries out her assignment until she witnesses a robbery in action. Abandoning her post, she chases and arrests him, but when she returns to the station the chief berates her and goes to fire her when an otter arrives asking desperately for help finding her missing husband. Judy volunteers to take the case and the assistant mayor, who shows up at the station fortuitously, is pleased.

The chief is frustrated, but to allows Judy to take the case under the condition that if she doesn’t solve it in forty-eight hours she will turn in her badge and leave the force. From here, Judy, with the aid of a fox con artist named Nick Wilde, goes on an investigation that takes many twist and turns, and they find themselves at the center of a problem much bigger than they had ever suspected.

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Review Format 2 - Target Audience

From watching the trailers, the film would immediately appear to be for children, what with all the anthropomorphic creatures and jokes. It’s not that this is entirely wrong. There are plenty of jokes, and the world is indeed full of animated anthropomorphic creatures, which does lend itself to the enjoyment of a kid audience. However, the film has much more to offer than that.

In many ways, the film is just as much aimed at adults as it is children. A lot of the humor is directed at elements of the adult world, and they will get the most out of the jokes and the clever sight gags. The plot is much more mature than your typical children’s film, and the characterization is far more nuanced. More than that, the film deals with complex social issues like sexism and racism in clever ways while managing to avoid feeling preachy, which could have sunk the whole movie.

So, in short, this film is for everyone except people who either hate animation or anthropomorphic animals. That is to say this film is for almost everyone except stick-in-the-muds.

 

Review Format 3 - The Short Take

“Zootopia” is easily the best animated film this year, and probably for the last several years. I feel that it matches a lot of Pixar’s most recent work, even if it doesn’t quite match the pure magic of Pixar’s best. The plot is very well done with genuine mysteries and surprises, all of which make sense and fit together in a cohesive whole. The characters are loveable and complex, and they can make mistakes and hurt and forgive each other. The humor is witty. The world is thoroughly realized and gorgeous. The music is good and fits well. On top of all these things, which would have already made for a fine film, “Zootopia” manages to fit in sharp social commentary that not only doesn’t distract or detract from the characters and plot, but rather is an integral part of both.

In other words, “Zootopia” is…

4.5-55 Rating - Brilliant!

If you want to know more about my rating systems, check out what each rating means HERE.

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Deadpool – Review

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The Premise:

This Ryan Reynolds passion project brings to life the Marvel comic book character Deadpool, the merc with the mouth, a hideously scarred joke-machine anti-hero. The character Deadpool is half the premise in and of himself. He is a fourth-wall breaking comedian with swords and guns. The movie exists not to serve up a novel story or grand idea, but so that Deadpool may exist.

That being said, there is a story here. Wade Wilson is a wise-cracking mercenary with a heart who falls in love with a prostitute named Vanessa. Just when it looks like they will live a happy life together he gets the bad news that he has rampant cancer throughout his body and little time left. When all seems lost, a mysterious organization arrives promising to not only cure his cancer, but give him miraculous powers.

Wade takes the chance and goes with them only to find that, while they do plan on curing him and giving him powers, they have a nefarious purpose to sell him as a super powered slave to the highest bidder. Wade gains his powers but at the cost of his appearance. Before he can be collared and sold, however, he makes an escape attempt, destroying the facility in the process. What follows is Wade’s revenge crusade as the masked “Deadpool” against the people who made him.

 

The Short of It:

This film is not for families with children. “Deadpool” is crazy violent, vulgar, sexual and revels in it. Do. Not. Take. Children. To. This. Movie. If you do, you are a bad parent, fullstop.

That being said, Deadpool is a hilariously fun action flick for adults. The plot and villain may be standard, but they all serve to highlight Ryan Reynolds’ infectious titular character, Deadpool, and act as suitable targets for his wacky humor. The action is fast paced but easy to follow, the humor is relentless and almost always earns a laugh, and through it all the movie manages to have more heart and passion than many other superhero movies. If you crave quality R-rated humor and action, I highly recommend that you go see Deadpool.

 

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