You know, I had serious doubts about this movie for way too damned long, I really did. Something to not doubt is that there will be spoilers below the jump.
This is the jump here, for those of you not reading this from the front page of my blog.
I was afraid they were just going to rehash the 1984 movie, only with the title team cast as women, and had they done that, it probably would have been just as bad as all the initial fears were making it out to be.
Instead, what they did was draw heavy, heavy influence from said movie and quite a lot of the other Ghostbusters material I've seen in the 32 years since, be it official or not and cannon or not.
Now, I know those two things sound an awful lot alike, but they're really not. See, in the case of the latter, it allowed the movie to pretty much be its own thing with its own story while still allowing long-time Ghostbusters nerds like myself to geek out over all the homages and references and whatnot that got thrown in along the way. I'll get into those more later, but first, I'd better get to the actual story here.
The movie starts off in much the same way as the 1984 movie it's based on does, with the three scientists who start the company losing their jobs at, in this case, various universities in New York. From here, we get the first of several remade scenes in which our gals Abby, Jillian and Erin try to at least rent the firehall the fellas from the original used as their base, only to find that rent on the place is twenty grand a month.
Since that's not an option, they rent out the second floor and garage of a Chinese food place, where they hire their secretary, a doofus named Kevin that even now I'm sorely tempted to refer to as a fuckwit in this review. Kevin's a nice enough guy, but the sort that most otherwise reasonable people can't help but want to punch in the face half the damn time.
The trio meets its fourth member, Patty, on their first case, investigating a ghost in the subway. Patty officially joins the team after their first, and really only, successful catch of a spook in the entire movie. This leads to one of the changes I rather liked for this version of the story. Instead of having all their equipment seemingly premade almost right from the start, we get to see it evolve as the story goes along. This also means we're not just limited to the proton packs, traps, and ecto-containment unit like the guys were in the the 1984 film. But I'll geek out about that more later.
Our main villain this time around is a nerdy genius with a persecution complex and a fascination with the paranormal much like Erin's. I didn't catch the dude's name in the movie, and from what IMDb leads me to believe is that he's officially called Fernando the Janitor, but he deserves better than that since he's pretty much the final boss.
What he's done here is invented these bomb sorta things that'll let him charge up New York's lay lines in such a way that he can open a vortex to the ghost world and take a spectral army to make everyone in the world as miserable as he thinks they've made him.
We start learning all this after the first of many 1984 cast cameos, when Bill Murray's Martin Hess shows up to actually see the ghost that's been captured and winds up getting killed by it as a result.
Unfortunately, this is where things started to get a little confusing for me. Coulda sworn they kept calling the big bad of the movie Hess toward the end, when I was taking it that that Fernando guy was supposed to be the final boss. Could be, and very likely am, wrong about that somehow, though.
A funny thing here is that one thing I liked about this movie is also something of a disappointment for me as well. I had kind of expected to see more ghosts throughout the movie, but we really didn't get all that many, aside from the rock concert that's essentially a remake of the Sedgewick Hotel bit from the original.
But we do get to see more than enough ghosts to make up for that in the final battle, so that's kind of OK for me.
Once Fernando or whatever the nutter's name was who was trying to activate the vortex completes his plan by bridging the main circuit on his device with his hands as he'd always planned to do, our heroes shut it down only to be escorted out of the room by the Department of Homeland Security without destroying it, which sets up the final battle mentioned above.
I guess we could see something coming before, because there was no Dana or Louis this movie. Kevin the Doofus gets possessed by the boss demon after Patty slaps it out of Abby. The monster uses Kevin to turn the machine back on and allow the ghosts into the human world.
While the ladies are making their way to said portal, Slimer makes his cameo and horks the Ecotmobile, which does indeed get a modern version of the “ECTO-1” plate. This will, of course factor into the final battle. Also along the way, the ladies show off quite a lot of the sort of stuff I really wish they'd shown us in the multiple cartoon series related to the 1984 and 89 movies.
After bringing the final boss, whatever his name really is, back out of Kevin the Doofus, it takes the form of the Logo Ghost for the final fight. Yeah, that's the name of the ghost in the Ghostbusters logo. And it's the final boss of this movie.
Our heroes reason out that they can save the city and the world by reversing the particle flow of the vortex. Crossing the streams won't work this time because the portal's a big hole in the ground rather than a literal door at the top of the building. Luckily for them, they've essentially got a big nuke on top of their Ectomobile that can do the job, and who should show back up but Slimer, who's been using it to take his wife and friends joyriding. After forcing Slimer and friends to pretty much drive into the vortex, they set the nuke off.
As things start going back to normal, they realize that the final boss is strong enough to keep himself from getting pulled back in with all the other freaky stuff. The solution to this is, naturally, to shoot him in the nuts so he lets go of the buildings he's bracing against.
And this is where I really have to start geeking out and spoiling things for everybody. This epic ending may not have been nearly as epic if they hadn't pretty much made it the ending of an episode of Real Ghostbusters. The episode in question is one where some construction workers find and stupidly open a Doomsday Door in the name of progress. The only way for the boys to save the day is to go through the door and use the big Doom Core to amplify their beams enough to pull in all the ghosts, spirits and stuff like that meant to inhabit the world after doomsday has come, simply because it wasn't doomsday yet. Once things start going back to normal, the only way out is for the guys to use their beams to propel themselves back to the real world. Ray, Peter and Winston make it out alright, but there's a moment of worry over Egon because he got hung up on something. Of course, Egon got out just fine, too, because there were actually quite a few seasons of the series left at this point, which was ultimately rather unfortunate.
In much the same way, Abby gets pulled in by the Logo Ghost and Erin uses an insanely long length of tow-truck cable to go in and rescue her, and both get yoinked out by Patty and Jillian after the final boss's defeat. At the end of the movie, all the damage caused by the ghosts unleased by... whoever it was that actually did it... gets undone and the only real evidence is the video footage and the memories of those involved.
That last bit is kind of a trope from Extreme Ghostbusters. Even though I really didn't watch as much as one might think of “XG” as one might think, I did notice that bit before it got pointed out to me by more famous reviewers over the years. Another Extreme reference towards the end of the movie are the proton pistols Jillian has, which go well with her really big trap from earlier in the movie. Kind of made her like Kylie from Extreme.
And really, I gotta say, I'm impressed with the way they used the tech in this version of the movie. All the variants and side items mad this team feel like the Filmation Ghostbusters as much as my more preferred Real team. The Filmation version didn't really have any mechanic for capturing and containing the ghosts the team fought, either, rather disintegrating them with an interesting variety of tools and forcing them to regenerate and come back again later.
What I really liked about this movie is that it managed to incorporate quite a bit of the history and inspiration from the 1984 movie, and even the 1970s show that inspired it to some extent while still managing to be its own thing an tell its own story. There were obvious nods and references and subtle ones, ranging from things like the firehouse, the ecto-1 license plate, and Slimer to cameos from as many of the cast members of the 1984 movie as they could get. Harold Ramis had passed by the time filming for this began, sadly, but in addition to Bill Murray, we got to see Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts as well. I want to go again to see if Dan Akroid got more than just production credit for this.
At the top of this article, I also mentioned potential sources of inspiration that were neither official or cannon, which means fan films. I'm enough of a Ghostbusters nerd to have seen a few of these, or at least one, anyway. But I did at least read a synopsis for the sequel to the one I did see, since it was kind of a big deal. This was kind of a big, high budget thing for a fan production called “Return of the Ghostbusters”, where the big bad made use of tech he stole form a remote branch of the Ghostbusters in a bid for immortality. Very similar to the dude who wanted an army of ghosts to get revenge for being bullied all his life.
Regardless of all that, though, this was a great movie in spite of doing exactly the things I guess I was hoping for at the end of the day. I wish I could have said the same of Kung Fu Panda 3. Both Ghostbusters and Kung Fu Panda are franchises that I've got quite a lot of fondness for, and both have had cinematic entries that did exactly what I could have hoped for, and yet, I absolutely loved this retelling of Ghostbusters, but was just “meh” on KFP3. That's something worth exploring at some point.
But that point will have to wait, for now. I've already gone on way longer than I'd intended, and I really need to wrap this up. With that in mind, I'll certainly try to watch this one again, and more seriously than I was about Zootopia. Hell, I may wind up going into this like some of my Skype buddies did Zootopia.
Seriously, though, I've gotta end this for now. Four pages in my word processor for this is a little much, so I'll say goodbye and good day for now.
See you soon, everyone.