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There may be no movie from the last several years that has been under a microscope as much as the new Ghostbusters. Fewer people were worried about new Star Wars movies. Many believed that the Ghostbusters should never have been touched by another filmmaker, and the fact that the new version was such a radical departure from the old only re-enforced many of those opinions.
The new Ghostbusters isn't perfect. Almost nobody is saying it's better than the original. Except that the two films are so different it's honestly difficult to really compare the two. The new Ghostbusters is really impressive. As a movie in its own right, it works. In a few cases, there are even things that it does better than the original. The rest of the time, it makes a concerted effort simply to do things differently, so that it can walk its own, completely independent path, separate from its franchise predecessors.
A Totally Different Tone
From practically the opening line of Ghostbusters, it's made clear that this is not your father's, or possibly your, Ghostbusters. Jokes about an anti-Irish security fence or P.T. Barnum's plan to enslave elephants would never have had a place in Ivan Reitman's movie. The original Ghostbusters is certainly a funny movie, but the style of humor is very different. Paul Feig makes it evident that they're not making the same movie here, and they do it before a single female Ghostbuster ever shows up on the screen. The trope of the beautiful, but idiotic, secretary, is a trope of many films, but it wasn't in the first movie. Chris Hemsworth's entire performance is there to do something very different.
It's A Real Ensemble Cast
While both teams of Ghostbusters have four members, the original was only barely an ensemble cast. What it really was, was a Bill Murray movie with Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis as supporting characters, and then Ernie Hudson showed up midway into the film. The new Ghostbusters gives all of their players a chance to shine, and it does so from the beginning. The team comes together much earlier in the reboot and while Kristen Wiig's character is the one that brings us to the party, once we're there, we follow the entire team as a group. Four distinct characters gives us four kinds of comedy from beginning to end.
While the movie does have a solid ensemble cast, there is one standout who needs to be addressed. We're not the first to sing the praises of Kate McKinnon's performance, and we won't be the last, but goddamn is she impressive. She's quirky, and funny, and she rocks out in the best "Rhythm of the Night" related dance scene since The Last Dragon. This is Jillian Holtzmann's world now, we're all just living in it. Men love her and women want to... actually, women love her too, we're fairly certain. We're even going to let the fact that she doesn't know Debarge from Devo slide.
That Final Action Sequence (Also Kate McKinnon Again)
The new Ghostbusters is designed to be a summer movie after all, and that means that the reboot was written with a little more action in mind than the original ever had. This culminates in a large-scale battle between our Ghostbusters and all the ghosts that have been released in New York. And they kick some ass. Once again, we can't compare this moment to any other Ghostbusters movie because the previous ones simply didn't have it. It's full of fun gadgets and great action. And yes, this is one of Kate McKinnon's many great moments as she gets to shine as a Ghostbusting gunslinger. Is it over the top and ridiculous? Absolutely. Does it matter? Not even a little.
If you saw Ghostbusters, but you didn't see it in 3D, you missed out. The movie has set a new standard for live action 3D. In addition to actually using the technology's ability to push images into the audience, it also breaks the wall horizontally and vertically, pushing proton streams and slime past the letterbox bars in both directions. The exceptional budget for Ghostbusters is one of the reasons the movie may have a hard time making money, but there's no question that the money was well spent to make some great stuff happen on screen.
It's Not A Movie About Female Ghostbusters
The biggest punchline in the new Ghostbusters is that the jokes you expect to hear never come. While the movie does make several callbacks to the original film, including numerous cameos and a few lines of dialogue (which are things it doesn't do right, to be honest), the one thing the film never does is make the gender flip a plot point. No jokes about them being women in the male-dominated sciences. No jokes about them being female business owners. They could have actually made the same movie with four men and the only thing they would have had to change in the script would have been pronouns.