Until a few weeks ago, I had never seen the original “Ghostbusters” movies. Friends had wholeheartedly recommended them, but I just wasn’t too interested.
But when the new Ghostbusters film starring an all-female cast was released, I decided to go check it out with my girlfriend.
Neither of us had seen the originals, so everything that popped on screen was new and refreshing. But it was mediocre. The humour was decent at the beginning, but nothing that broke the mold. The director, Paul Feig, has previously helmed films such as Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy. His brand of humour is unique, but it relies heavily on slapstick and physical gags.
The first half was pure humour and story build-up, but the latter half diverged into ghost-punching action. It was everything I expected from a Hollywood remake of a classic franchise.
But as I walked out of the theater I couldn’t help but wonder what the original films were like.
So a couple of days later I hopped on Netflix and jumped into the first movie. A couple hours later and my opinion of the new cinematic Ghostbusters adventure had completely changed.
The original movie is a comedy that knows how to weave clever jokes amid an interesting plot, colourful characters and fantastic creatures. Bill Murray delivered his lines in his classic deadpan style, drawing in the audience as a scientist who looks at every proceeding with a healthy dose of skepticism. He never made the jump to true believer, staying on the outside of things as he just tried to go after the girl.
The other characters were also great, rounding out the crew with devious scientists and civilians in over their heads. There was some action, but it highlighted the fact the Ghostbusters were amateurs, learning their craft as the audience watched them work out the kinks in their equipment and learn how to not cross the streams.
The second movie didn’t strike as much of a chord with me, but it continued the adventures of the four ghost-tackling friends in a scenario more ridiculous and far-fetched, but with more ghosts to see and new supernatural enemies to tangle with.
I came away from the original Ghostbusters movies finally realizing why they were such a booming success. The humor gave us things to relate to. Not getting the girl. Struggling with getting fired. Not being respected in your field. Everything was alien and familiar at the same time. Plus, there were ghosts.
The new movie had these elements, but they are overshadowed by the new brand of humour that defines Feig’s movies. The premise may be the same (with many of the same, or similar, creatures and gadgets cropping up to remind you of the good old times); the magic qualities that made the original so successful wasn’t.
When I saw the first trailer for the new movie, I was excited, I really was. It looked like a funny movie with special effects that purposely harkened back to those of the ’80s, while introducing a new all-female cast. Everything seemed like it would work out.
Despite what people may have said online, the cast wasn’t actually the problem with this movie. They were fantastic. Each member brought something different to the team, rounding out the new Ghostbusters in a way the original failed to (I’m talking about Winston).
Like I’ve said, the way everything was structured just muddled what could have been a great movie. The foundation has been laid — if there is a Ghostbusters 2 (and that is far from set in stone; the film struggled at the box office, with critics and with audiences) it could be a film worthy of the franchise name.
Now, don’t take this as me saying the new series of films has to directly imitate the original to be successful. Not at all. They just need to remember why the series became a success in the first place and then imbue the flicks with some of that style in order to recapture the audience.
The original Ghostbusters movies were new and exciting. Recreating something truly unique is harder than ever and rebooting a beloved franchise comes with hefty expectations.
So while I would now consider myself a fan of the Ghostbusters franchise, the new movies have yet to entertain me in the same way as the Bill Murray classics. But my fingers are crossed that they have it in them to make something truly great.
Matthew Herst is a Carleton University communications student, video game journalist and Sudbury.com’s resident geek writer. Yeah, this guy love’s video games. Besides Sudbury.com, you can also find his work on TheNerdStash.com. Follow him on Twitter @supergurst.