I was eager to watch this film again for this podcast because it had been some time since I’d watched it last. This remake of Ghostbusters was immediately maligned by the denizens of social media all because the leads of this version were all women. This is obviously an absolutely absurd reason to dismiss any film, let alone shower it with so much hate without giving it a watch first. Because of this, I went to see this film on opening weekend, not only to support it during its time of need but also to assess the movie for myself. While it didn’t blow me away, I was thoroughly entertained. Now, having watched it again through a fresher lens, I have to say this film did things I previously criticized the first two films of not doing, making it feel like I was getting the remake I was hoping for.
I mentioned in my entry to Ghostbusters II that there felt like a lack of actual Ghostbusters action. You had the courtroom scene and the fight with Vigo and that’s about it. Here, we get setpieces with ghosts sans a montage and one of the best Ghostbusters fight sequences at the end of the film. These ladies were actually fighting ghosts and it was pretty damn spectacular.
I mentioned in my entry to the first film that there seemed to be a missing piece to the story that could explain WHY ghost activity was suddenly on the rise. Even if you say, “because of Gozer,” what triggered that event at that precise moment in time? In part II, Vigo’s appearance in New York via the painting is explanation enough. Here, we see that the character of Rowan is actively working to release specters from another plane of existence because he feels slighted by humanity. You can say this sounds like a ridiculous plot but there are people in the world just like Rowan who would do this very thing were it possible.
This film does its best to pay homage to the original film by hitting similar beats while also dancing to its own tune which I greatly appreciate. I like how all of the characters have their own personalities that aren’t carbon copies of the original cast. Not one of the actresses can be seen as a reflection of the original Ghostbusters. Paul Feig expertly cast Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones because of their comedic talents and sharp wit. And instead of trying to reign them in, he allows them to play to their strengths, letting them ad-lib their dialogue with their own flavor which helps the film be as funny as it can be.
Speaking of funny, Chris Hemsworth is downright hilarious in this flick. I’ve heard he was intimidated by his co-stars since comedy is their forte, but he holds his own with the amount of insanity that comes out of Kevin’s mouth. The man has proven he can be funny time and again. The film is also littered with numerous appearances and cameos from other amazing actors and comedians. It was nice to see cameos from the original cast, although I could have done without them since most of the scenes were inconsequential making their appearances nothing more than fan service.
I’d actually forgotten Michael K. Williams was in this flick and seeing him was heartbreaking considering recent events. I really dug Ed Begley Jr.’s appearance and the subsequent joke that accompanied him. Ed Mulgrave is dead but they meant Ed Sr. not Ed Jr. Simple but effective little joke.
The story here is pretty good, in my opinion, allowing the characters to have motivation to be paranormal investigators beyond just wanting to. Abby and Erin had an encounter early in their lives and it led them down this path. Furthermore, Erin’s rejection of this encounter then sudden return to believing is what sets off the chain of events to getting things started for them. It leans towards credible because no one believes that ghosts are real and everyone assumes they’re frauds. Even Patty joining the team feels more natural than Winston looking for a job because she SAW a ghost. Again, I like the idea of Rowan, a normal person fed up with the world of the living looking to take it down and not conquer it. I even liked the final form he took on actually personifying the ghost logo. The design of that was on point, looking like he was pulled straight from the opening of the animated series.
The ghosts in this movie are another element I really enjoyed. Most of them had distinct personalities (or should I say “had”) and in some cases looked pretty ghastly. The film leans back into the comedy/horror vibe at times which I appreciated. That said, the dragon demon ghost felt like it belonged in another flick. It was a cool design and worked for the venue it was placed in but didn’t feel very ethereal, despite its glowing aura. Also towards the end when all of the ghosts were running free, it seems like the art designer could have added some extra colors to the blues and greens floating about. Could have made for some wonderful eye candy. Speaking of green, it was nice to see Slimer again even if he was kind of a dick. But I guess he was in the first one as well.
Another thing I really dug in this flick was getting to see the development of their equipment. Holtzmann is constantly whipping out new toys based around whatever pseudo-science playbook they had and actually seeing test runs works in opposition to the original film where they admitted to doing none. And each device she concocted was pretty badass. No more just catching ghosts but actually obliterating them. If you can do that, why not just DO THAT? It’s a really wise addition to the mythos.
And while we’re talking about mythos, let’s talk about one minor gripe I have with the film. Now, this is not something that would have made it a better film in any way. BUT, I honestly feel that the script could have easily worked in the original Ghostbusters having existed and operated in New York over 30 years ago. If you pay attention to certain details in the story, you could have easily slid in references to Spengler and Stanz’s research into the paranormal. There was even a bit in the scene with the mayor that could have explained what happened to the original team. Putting the cat back in the bag as they said. Again, this isn’t a make or break thing for me, but the pieces were there and it could have been easy enough to do. Strengthen the already existing mythos without hitting the reset button.
Ghostbusters: Answer the Call is a fun movie that delivers on the laughs and some great action. If the idea of female Ghostbusters bothers you, then one: you’re an ass and two: I don’t remember hearing gripes about Kylie Griffin who predates these ladies by 20 years. But the internet is much louder nowadays. To be honest, I’d love to see the next wave of Ghostbusters not be all men or all women, but a very diverse crowd. I’m sure that will ruffle feathers as well but too bad. It’s time! If the line “Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghost,” speaks to who you are, then you’re an outdated relic that needs to get with the times.