I ain’t afraid of no ghost.
I’ve been saying that since the 80’s. Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of the original crew: Venkman, Stantz, Spengler and Zedemore. Plus Melnitz, Tully and Barrett.
I’ve also been waiting about 30 years for the third installment. When they announced in 2014 that they’d finally settled on a script, that a new movie was actually being produced, I almost wet myself. Then LEGO (who finally figured out that adult fans were LEGO kids and would pay a shit ton for GB sets) released two sets, all but confirming a movie on the horizon.
Frankly, I didn’t care that it was an all-female cast. Or made by Paul Feig (who made Bridesmaids – not a movie I found that funny). I cared that they were messing with my childhood.
And in the resulting two years of the mixture of hype and anti-hype, my concern remained. First, it was that they hadn’t yet confirmed the presence of the entire original cast. Then Ramis died and meant they couldn’t. Rumors eventually started swirling that it wasn’t GB3, it was a reboot.
Name a reboot that’s actually been better than the original. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Most are superhero films that, interestingly enough, have already been rebooted several times within the pages of their own comic books. Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Fantastic Four… And there are about 107 more coming in the next few years.
Ghostbusters was an original of sorts. No, it wasn’t the first ghost “busting” movie – but it took the idea of hunting ghosts farther. It has some of the most quotable one-liners ever. It’s a 30-year old movie and there isn’t a week that goes by when I don’t hear or personally (mis)quote a line:
“One somebody asks you if you’re a god, you say YES!”
“This man has no dick.”
“Don’t cross the streams.”
“Let’s show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown”
“You’ve never been out of college! You don’t know what it’s like out there! I’ve *worked* in the private sector. They expect *results*. “
“If there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say.”
“Back off, man. I’m a scientist.”
“I love this plan! I’m excited to be a part of it! LET’S DO IT!”
“Sorry, Venkman, I’m terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.”
“Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.”
They’re not the funniest lines of any movie ever made – sometimes you just have to watch it to put it in context. But it is awesome.
So why remake it? Well… easy. Money. When you’ve got the bulk of an idea and don’t need to spend a lot of time retooling things to cash in, that’s an easy choice. And we’re easy marks ($47M in the first weekend bears it out).
I had to see it for myself. I was mildly hopeful. They announced cameos by everyone who was alive (except for Rick Moranis, who retired to take care of his kids). Previews showed a few funny lines and tech that aligned with the original. I could envision a way that this would work. And I hoped that Bill Murray got his chance to be a ghost.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. It is a complete reboot and doesn’t acknowledge the existence of the prior films in any way. Which is probably the most disappointing part… because the entire movie could’ve been what it was yet still work with the original two. Here’s how (mild spoilers ahead):
1. Imagine that GB/GB2 happened as they did. We leave off in 1989, 27 years ago. New York City just experienced a massive ectoplasmic event. What could happen? There’s a lot of explaining to do – about the Statue of Liberty, the Museum, all the slime, etc.
2. So they retire, as NYC is now all happy and the slime helps things return to normal (I still don’t understand the need for the Nintendo joystick to control Lady Liberty).
3. And the GBs are “helped” by the Mayor’s office (again) into that retirement. And maybe the government is interested in the proton packs [which aligns with the 2016 GB storyline].
4. Time passes. Tolan hears stories about the GB’s from her mortician uncle, Winston. Holtzman is taught practical engineering and physics from an odd musician-turned-professor Barrett. Or, perhaps, Erin Gilbert is friends with Stantz through visiting his bookstore.
5. Instead of independently developing the proton packs [which seem to be more actively damaging to ghosts this time around], the women could’ve stumbled upon the OLD tech… sitting dormant locked in the Firehouse. Sure, they could advance the tech, too… but at least that would explain how the doofus Rowan is able to develop similar tech in the same time-window as the Ghostbusters.
See? It wouldn’t have been too hard. Hell, Venkman could’ve STILL played the skeptic… having completely turned a leaf after his two run-ins with the Mayor. In fact, he could’ve been trying to find out whether the women stumbled upon the proton packs, which maybe were supposed to be destroyed, but were instead hidden from the government.
All in all, it could’ve honored the originals without having to start from scratch. It would’ve been fun to see how the story would’ve progressed to tie it all together (which, admittedly, is harder to do than what was done). Instead, they basically reshot the movie, scene by scene:
GB individual background exposition
Finding the secretary
Meeting the villain
Show off the tech
Battle a disbelieving public and a skeptical government
Villain gets more powerful
GB’s to the rescue
Large white end creature, easily killed.
Everything wrapped up neatly
And don’t get me started on the after-the-credits scene.
The movie was a C/C+ at best. After typing this all out, I’m struggling with the +.