Friday, March 4, 2016

Mass Hysteria! - Ghostbusters 2016 Trailer Review from a Ghosthead

Hello New York!

Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, and Kate McKinnon in Ghostbusters (2016)

A preface: This is my first post here. Woo! In short, I am an 80's/Sci-Fi/Superhero movie fan with a strong emphasis and way too much knowledge on Ghostbusters, Back the the Future, Bill & Ted, Doctor Who and a number of other properties. Ghostbusters is extremely special and I've been watching it longer than I am able to remember. As a kid I walked around in a Ghostbusters jumpsuit with my plastic proton pack, carrying my Kenner figures and Ecto-1, and strictly called my mother Egon for some reason. In 28 years, only the calling my mom Egon thing has changed.

But enough about me, on to the main subject, a bit of excitement from yesterday!
(Note: some of my post was previously posted in the comments of our We Got One trailer release post yesterday. Sorry if you've read any of this already)

Trailer. It is new, but in its own way familiar (as it should be, being a reboot). However, new is often scary. This is one of the things many of the casual fans and even some of the Ghostheads seem deeply terrified of, as New does not always equal Better.

But here's the thing. No matter what anyone says, there is no way for this film to be better than the original, as that was a brand new idea and this is rehashed material.

To elaborate on that:
The original movie has a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, is ranked as the Greatest Comedy of All Time on IGN, Greatest Comedy of the Past 25 years by Entertainment Weekly, #28 on AFI's Best Comedies list, and #189 on Empire magazine's 500 Greatest Movies of All Time; how good can a remake be compared to a movie with an original idea that is so publicly renowned?

"The best, the beautiful, the only Ghostbusters"

Not only that, but after waiting 27 years, with a sequel being touted for so long, it was utterly disappointing to fans that the new film wouldn't even try to connect the movies together. However, the start of this trailer seems to indicate otherwise.

"30 years ago... four scientists saved the New York..."

We run into a problem here. Paul Feig has stated time and time again that this is a brand new universe. There are no ties to Ghostbusters of days past. Yet, after the Sony e-mail leaks revealed shareholders were disappointed, reshoots on GB16 began... including the shots of ol' Hook & Ladder #8, the classic Ghostbusters headquarters.

Script leaks had revealed that the Firehouse would be used as a sight gag (the girls decide AGAINST the firehouse and choose instead to live above a chinese restaurant, which is featured in the trailer). In those reshoots, Ernie Hudson (GB's Winston Zeddemore) filmed his cameo with Leslie Jones (GB16's Patty Tolan), and now we have (for the first time in this trailer) footage inside the firehouse. If it was only meant to be a sight gag, why is Holtzmann's lab in (a soundstage recreation of) the firehouse.

Did something major happen to tie things together as the opening text suggests? Or are they just referencing the movie which was released 30 years ago to get butts into seats? The trailer has been delayed since December, missed airing during the Super Bowl, and was finally released three months late after they've had time to work on the reshot footage. What is going on here?

Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters director, and co-founder of the newly created Ghost Corps) has gone on record as saying the movie has no ties to the original after seeing a cut of the film, yet that was months ago and there are still five more months until the movie is released.

Director Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd, and Bill Murray on the set of Ghostbusters (1984)

Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 changed its entire Green Goblin plot thread during reshoots (about a half hour of narrative which had been filmed, but was rewritten and reshot for the final film), I wouldn't put it past Sony to do it again with the amount of backlash this movie got during its production.

As for the plot, it is another origin story. Big whoop... Again, it is familiar yet different. We don't know all the details yet, but it looks different enough to be interesting without being a carbon copy.

The comedy, the tone of the piece, is logically where we are going to run into some more issues. This film is a change of comedy style, and one that not everyone likes (myself included). The Paul Feig / Melissa McCarthy "brand" is not something I have enjoyed in the past. Their type of comedy (not just Feig's, but other recent films) to me just tries too hard to be funny, to push the bar, and I often find myself thinking that less would have been more. Feig's work and McCarthy's acting and improvisations just always make me feel that way, which have had me worried about this film. That "brand" appears in some form here; "The power of Patty compels you" with the second slap takes the joke too far for my tastes, even though it did make me smirk. But that's how I always feel with Feig: I'll be smirking, but not laughing. And for a two hour movie, that much smirking gets tedious.

Despite my distaste for the comedy style (others, in their brand’s usual market demographic, like it obviously), the strong possibility of this being a full on reboot hurts the most, but until they (or the film) say otherwise, I'm going to remain hopeful.

But back to the trailer(s).

First things first, the preview / announcement trailer for the trailer was nothing. In my mind it amounts to absolutely nothing, and was poor promotion. Remove the words from the trailer announcement video and you have any New York under siege movie from the past twenty years. It could have been a Godzilla trailer, a Spider-Man trailer, a Pixels trailer. Then the use of the Piano-y Ghostbusters theme was such a rip off of Jurassic World. That seemed nostalgic, this seems forced.

NOW, three months late, we have the first official trailer. It forces nostalgia (as previously mentioned: same but different) but, much like Jurassic World, that is almost necessary if you are (as Feig states) trying to pay homage to the original.

Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon. Ghostbusters (2016)

Again we have three scientists of various intellect and skills, who seem genuine in their studies of the paranormal. The first ghost we see is bright and vibrant (neon even), and that is a stylistic change but not one I hated as much as I have seen others talk about. Yes, it looks more like the special effects from something like Pixels or Scooby Doo, but I'm not entirely convinced it is a bad thing. It would be odd to expect the muted colors of days past (which I too prefer, partially due to nostalgia) when everything now is competing to be the biggest and brightest.

Then comes the vomiting ghost.

The first time I watched the trailer, I didn't mind it. Then when I had time to think, I made a realization: in 1984's Ghostbusters, we never actually see anyone get slimed. Sure Venkman has his Slimer encounter, but we never see the little spud actually hit him. GB2 is a different story with that mood slime, but hey, slime was super popular what with Nickelodeon and all in '89.

But, on my second viewing I realized that the extensive vomiting and the line about it getting "everywhere" was just more of that Paul Feig grossout humor I'm usually not a fan of. Did I like it better because it was Ghostbusters and slime instead of Bridesmaids and diarrhea? Probably. And the fact that The Real Ghostbusters features a lot of humor like this (and featured a toyline about the "Slimed Heroes") likely lessened the blow. Slime occurs again later, but for a movie featuring ectoplasm (well, the liquefied movie version Aykroyd created anyway, instead of the ashiness it is supposed to be that he thought wouldn't be as fun on film), I'm expecting someone to get slimed.

Shot from The Real Ghostbusters episode "Station Identification"

The next segment, featuring equipment and character introductions served its purpose in the trailer, Abby Yate (Melissa McCarthy) gets her bumbling scientist "that's hot..." line, and we are lead through to Patty's (Leslie Jones) "you guys are really smart about that science stuff" and her Cadillac line. Everything here is mainly fine. It brings us in to the world of Ghostbusters 2016.


If the lines "Holtzmann, you're a brilliant engineer" and "Erin, no one's better at quantum physics than you" are actually in this movie, I'm fairly upset. Let's just state your character traits and history! That will define who you are in the easiest fashion, right?


In the original Ghostbusters, we are given the characters at face value. We are not told if they are just friends, colleagues or what. That is shown in the story. The characters' first actions perfectly explain them better than any summation of a statement ever could.

Let me elaborate:
  • Peter Venkman; we meet him being a funny, charming, womanizer. In one minute we have his whole character for the rest of the film.
  • Ray Stantz; we meet him being over enthused about latest discoveries. Boom character.
  • Egon Spengler; we meet him listening to a table. Listening. To a table. Seriously and intently in search of discovery. Two seconds, and that all we need to know.
  • Winston Zeddemore; we meet at a job interview, "If there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say." Working man, audience surrogate. Done.

The characters are never summed up because the script has made their characters strong enough that we don't need identification.

Throughout the whole section, Holtzmann's (Kate McKinnon) reactions in this early part of the trailer are probably what's best (she's pleased by every weird thing that happens; how very Ray Stantz of her), and that says the most about her. Yates (McCarthy) burning her finger is an easy and forced physical comedy bit that I can't tell if it was improvized or in the script because it just seems so par for the corse with this "brand" of movies.

Anyway, let's move on.
-Let's move on.
Did you wanna- -
-I'm sorry
-I'll let, I'll let you…
Next time.

(I don't even know how I feel about that bit, but I smirked. Didn't laugh though)

Slimer from the Ghostbusters (2016) trailer

Night shots. Slimer! Plot details in an under excited voice!
 ALSO: Time travel? Maybe. Times square changes from the first shot to the second. The first features a "That's a big Twinkie" poster, the second a Taxi Driver movie poster (time travelling back to the 80's are you? To mess things up 30 years ago? Awww, you shouldn't have!)

More ghosts and...

Holtzmann in a hat and wig.

Okay. So I watched this trailer alone (several times) and with my girlfriend once. I smirked the first time, my girlfriend actually chuckled. We are admittedly very different audiences for most things (and we are well aware of it), but this just supports how different humor can be seen depending on the audience.

More ghosts. New tech!
  • Holtzmann has Proton Pistols (as seen previously in Extreme Ghostbusters and IDW's Ghostbusters comic)!
  • Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) shoots a boson shot (as featured in the 2009 Ghostbusters video game)!
  • Yates has Proton Knuckles for punching (similar to an item created in IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / Ghostbusters crossover comic last year)!
Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann in Ghostbusters (2016)

(Okay was the licking thing supposed to be cool? Hot? Funny? It might make me feel funny in various undisclosed places, but that's a discussion for elsewhere)

Then we have THOR! Oh wait, it's Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), the Janine / Louis hybrid secretary, who is totally possessed here (the narration, the set images, and the upcoming LEGO all confirm this). Bad use of his character in this trailer though. Totally give it away why don't you?

THEN Yates gets possessed. Did someone order slapstickery? Because here it comes. But... but not from McCarthy? Nope. Slapping someone to unpossess them is definitely ridiculous, but given what we've seen of Patty's character it works. The second slap however is just gratuitous, and an AWFUL shot to end a trailer on.

So, that's the trailer. That. Is it.

It gets so much that feels wrong in places where it could feel right, but it certainly is something. I want to see another trailer to see if anything there makes it better, but I also sort of don't want even more of this movie given away.

That said, I'm probably going to see it, probably in theaters, and I'll probably just smirk my way through the whole thing just like I did with Bridesmaids.

A topic I've seemingly avoided:
All-female cast.
Whether or not this is an all-female leading cast doesn't even matter here. The fact that this movie can already be seen empowering women, and giving little girls (or anyone else for that matter) role models (who wouldn't want to be a scientist who saves the world after seeing Ghostbusters?), is fantastic. Women of all ages have already been seen at comic conventions and fan events in GB16 costumes, and the movie isn't even out yet. This is great, and I am excited that more people may get the chance to connect with characters where they may not have before.

Lastly, new material is always good for a dying brand. The video game regained interest in 2009, and this movie is gaining interest from new sources, who may (or may not) have felt excluded in the past. Either way, there is awesome new tech, there will be new merchandise on shelves (both classic and new merch), and a growing library for Tobin's Spirit Guide.

The Real Ghostbusters' Egon reading Tobin's Spirit Guide

Yes, it is sad GB3 as it may have been didn't happen (though Aykroyd is still pushing for it), but things are moving forward when they once were at a standstill.

Will I see it?
Am I excited for it?
Have I had my doubts for the past two years?
Did the trailer get me hype, and make me want to see the movie more than the miniscule amount I did before?
-Yes (and I watched two episodes of The Real Ghostbusters because I was hype).
Did I bounce around too much on this topic, and likely forget points I wanted to make?

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