Russell Baillie writes about movies for the Herald

Movie review: Ghostbusters

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Say this for the new all-women Ghostbusters - aka the film which suffered a sexist online pile-on before anyone saw it - it's got a really nice bust.

It's there in an early scene. A head-and-shoulders statue of the late Harold Ramis as Dr Egon Spengler sits outside Kristen Wiig's academic office.

Ramis not only co-wrote and co-starred in the first Ghostbusters, his other scripts are largely what made Bill Murray funny though the 80s.

Sure, it's nice that the bust of Ramis is the first of many cameos from the old crew in this reboot. Just a pity it's not the last. Because the rest - including an extended one from Murray as an eccentric debunker of things paranormal - sure do weigh down a movie that isn't as bad as those trolls hoped.

Ghostbusters rebooted.
Ghostbusters rebooted.



But despite the inspired idea of rebooting the Ghostbusters as gal-geeks, the movie's not great either

The lead quartet gives this remake an infectious girlpower goofiness but that's not quite enough to carry what's an otherwise timid and safe remake.

It's enjoyably silly fun until a third act energy slump, which can't be saved by the special-effects dazzle of all those ghouls ganging up on the city.

It starts off great with Silicon Valley's Zach Woods as a tour guide in a supposedly haunted New York mansion. It's a funny then spooky sequence that the rest of the film can't quite top.

That reunites estranged scientist buddies Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, who may be playing the Murray and Dan Aykroyd parts from the original but go with their default comedic personas - brash and loud for McCarthy, awkward and shy for Wiig.

Ghostbusters rebooted.
Ghostbusters rebooted.

When combined with Kate McKinnon as team's impulsive weapons tech and Leslie Jones in Ernie Hudson's old role as the unqualified African-American (it appears you can progress things only so far) but who is an expert on old New York, the four do generate plenty of daft ensemble chemistry among all that mad physics.

But talking of science, those special effects aren't doing a lot that's new. Neither is the script, which simplifies the original's plot in a seeming effort to give the quartet more time to hang out or make way for those laboured cameos.

Chris Hemsworth's dim-witted beefcake receptionist is mildly amusing and after Avengers he must now hold some sort of record for movies where the New York skyline is attacked by creatures from another realm.

But what's missing in this Ghostbusters is, well, the spirit of old.

With Murray as lead goofball, there was a knockabout vibe behind the original which has helped it endure.

Also, the 1984 film was set in a bad old New York with a 70s hangover - so the evil unleashed from beneath the pavements kind of made sense.

Here, the spooks arrive because of a disgruntled psycho who's not much of a villain, more of a mechanical plot device who doesn't amount to anything.

Still, director Paul Feig, who has directed McCarthy in most of her big screen hits as well as Bridesmaids with her and Wiig, has fun with doing a internet age Ghostbusters, even making light of the online backlash over the film's trailer on YouTube.

It's just a pity that's one of the few places this film has an attitude of its own because otherwise - like the slightly updated theme song - this feels like a cover version.

It's enjoyable but too reverent. Instead of building a monument to the old film, a spot of vandalism might have improved things.

Review: Ghostbusters

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon
Director: Paul Feig
Running Time: 116 mins
Rating: PG (coarse language and some scenes may scare very young children)
Verdict: Fun for a while but lacks the spirit of the original

- NZ Herald

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