15 July 2016

The Road to a Blockbuster: G to the B

There's not quite a weekend this summer that feels as much like the culmination of decades of effort. The Ghosbusters franchise has been stalling out since the second installment in 1989, which has its detractors and supporters in equal measure. After hundreds of different renditions, the powers that be eventually settled on Paul Feig and a foursome of talented female comedians to take on the mantle once worn by Dan Aykroyd and company.
Downright badasses

Every Friday around these parts we take some time to examine the critical, cultural, and commercial potential of the major film releases. This weekend sees the landmark drop of Ghostbusters (2016), which has entered this weird nexus void in between anticipation and revulsion. We've also got The Infiltrator (2016), but no one cares about The Infiltrator. So lets dive into the new Ghosbusters, which has been driving everyone insane since the all-female cast was announced.

Of course, to this the Internet lost their minds. The misogynistic backlash has been even more ridiculous than I could have expected. I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't wowed by the original trailer, and nothing in the marketing has particularly caught my eye, although I'm a big enough fan of everyone involved to stay interested.

This of course brings us to the magnificent vitriol spit out by a horde of fanboys (emphasis on boys), who for some reason feel as if their very lives have been threatened by ladies taking up the proton pack, which has somewhat tainted both the release as well as the required conversation leading up to the release. Like this one! Damn.

For my part, I am not sure why Ghostbusters became the lightning rod. It's one of dozens of 80s properties getting the big budget modern mainstream treatment in recent years, and while it's always a fondly recognized movie, are there that many hardcore followers out there? I mean, for what it's worth, between cartoon shows (love The REAL Ghostbusters), ever-present Halloween costumes, the most popular and consistently replayed and recognizable movie tie-in songs of all time, and even Casper (1995), it's totally one of the most whored out franchises ever.

All that being said I'll still argue, like I did when the cast was first announced, that I'd prefer a whole new idea for a female blockbuster, and these still seem like distaff counterparts, which isn't quite the move forward it should be. I am also concerned with the lack of funniness in the trailers, and I say that as a guy who generally enjoyed Tammy (2014). And Welcome to Me (2015), for fuck's sake!

That brings me to another point that's largely been ignored - this movie isn't actually for me. It's for kids who are going to experience Ghostbusters for the first time. More importantly, this is a film for women to enjoy, as much as Transformers was a film for men to enjoy. Do you know how many blockbuster action films are made "for everyone" but really just men in mind? Uhh - all of them but Hunger Games. It's fine to accept that something isn't actually catering directly to us idiots - but as much as some women liked Transformers (probably), I'm sure men will love Ghostbusters. But it may not be the bro event of summer. Who cares? Bros aren't the only people headed to the theater.

For this reason, I really hope it does well. In a season where it seems like every big sequel is flopping I'd love for this to emerge victorious. Advance reviews give it a Jurassic World (2015) / Force Awakens (2015) remakequel vibe, which had surely been lucrative commercially if audiences aren't sick of it yet. I sorta am, although Jurassic World was the only one to coherently comment and build on its situation. Ultimately these films end up as more shallow husks of the greatest blockbusters of all time, and since Ghostbusters is very much in that pantheon, I might expect the same.

That's one last importanf thing to note: there's nothing like the original Ghostbusters (1984). No film has effectively combined horror, sci-fi, and comedy to such ridiculously successful results. It's still the pinnacle of the careers of everyone involved (Sigourney Weaver may have done better elsewhere). Men in Black (1997) is about the only film to come close to capturing its genre.

Even its sequel, Ghostbusters II (1989) didn't really pull off what the original did, although the villain and macguffin are up to par. I'm really curious to see what Feig's film can do - matching the original seems needlessly out of the question. A better question might be "Can it match Jurassic World?"

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. My biggest issue was that the trailers didn't look funny at all. And if your "Ghostbusters" movie isn't funny... is there a point? I also think the reboot was unnecessary and they could have kept it in the same storyline with some fun roles for the original cast. But that is a minor issue if the movie isn't funny.

    I have heard the trailers didn't do it justice and the movie has its moments, but I think I'll wait till I can stream it.


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