Is Ghostbusters (2016) Really that Bad?

Ghostbusters came out in 2016 among a flurry of (mostly negative) internet chatter. Some people hated it and some people were undecided and others supported it as an important step forward in cinema. However, most of this early talk was around the casting choices rather than the actual film. If it is judged by the first trailer, it seemed like it was going to be disappointing, but is this the actual case?

I like to give things a chance and the second trailer made it look much better. So I took my kids to see it, and my opinion didn’t really change. It’s not a perfect movie, but then re-watching the original 1984 one, that is not a perfect movie either. From Venkman using his position of power as a professor to seduce a young woman in the opening scenes to the amount of smoking throughout the film. Is the original a film that kids should be watching? I saw the original in the cinema as a ten year old and it scared the pants off me. I still get the jitters watching the library scene.

At its core Ghostbusters 2016 is a kids movie. It’s aimed at children and not nostalgic adults. If you’re not sure about that here’s a tip. If the movie has bodily function comedy, you’re watching a kids film. The film was never made to replace the old one, but rather reintroduce the old story and concept to a new audience. If you love the old film and are able to chuck on the rose tinted glasses so all it’s flaws seem inconsequential, then you don’t want or need to see this film; and thus your opinion of it is invalid.

So what’s good about it…

The representation of struggle on the part of their professional careers. It showed real problems faced by people trying to move past their previous endeavors.

The element of danger was more real, and they showed thought and ingenuity to solve problems. The development of new weaponry beyond the all-purpose proton pack.

The battle scene on the streets demonstrated overcoming their vulnerabilities. This was vastly superior to the ghost capturing montage of the original.

And what’s bad about it…

All the cameo’s from the original Ghostbusters, they were nothing more than distraction. If people wanted them in the movie, they should have made a fresh one with them in it.

A few of the jokes were flat, and didn’t come across well, but then again it is a kids film.

Should you watch it?

If you are looking for something similar to the original one, then no. These films are not linked beyond the concept and theme. If you are after a fun kids movie that is not too scary, then this movie is a good safe option. Not every movie is made to be some spectacular masterpiece, many are made to be fun. I feel that with many so called ‘classics’ the larger audience just remember key scenes and not the film as a whole.

Feature Image: Science Eyes by Tom Woodward (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Is Hollywood Running on Empty? Reboot the Idea Machine…

Film Bundle by Dale Mastin
(CC BY-ND 2.0)

The idea that Hollywood is running out of ideas is not a new one, in fact as a saying it is getting old and repetitive. The saying is something that is spouted by people who are getting tired of what they would call the same old stories, unwanted sequels, reboots and remakes; although I dislike the term ‘reboot’, usually when a film series is rebooted it is obvious, new cast, setting, story. The term ‘reboot’ is insulting to the audience and redundant. If your aware of the previous movies then you know, if you are not aware then you don’t need to know.

The concept of Hollywood is running out of ideas, plays on the presumption that Hollywood is in the ideas business. When in fact they are not. Hollywood exists to make money from entertainment. People like to forget that most companies exist for one single purpose, the procurement of wealth, it is only how they go about it that makes them different. In fact many companies stated out doing something different to what they are doing now, and in the fast changing world it pays to be progressive.

Cinema by Steve Snodgrass (CC BY 2.0)

Netflix is one example of a company that changed its business model to better suit the environment. They started out as a DVD mail rental service, then progressed to video streaming and now produce some of their own content (Business Insider). Netflix started when Video Rentals were king, but they took something that people didn’t like, late fees and going in to the store, and made that their marketing goals. When you examine a company that doesn’t alter their business fast enough you end up with Blockbuster; they went from just over 9000 stores in 2004 to filling for bankruptcy in 2011, just 7 years later. Now the only remnants left are about 10 franchised stores in the US (Blockbuster LLC, Wikipedia). Blockbuster had monumentally failed to understand what consumers wanted.

That is where Hollywood is different, they understand what people want, and while their consumers may say they want something different it is not what they are paying to see. But that’s okay, it is alright to go out to watch a movie just for the entertainment. We don’t need to have thought provoking movies thrown at us all the time. Perhaps when you find yourself thinking that Hollywood has run out of ideas, it is more of an indicator that you are in need of something different, a palette cleansing film, something that engages you more than the standard fodder. This is where it can get a bit difficult, what do you start with? Exploration is the key. Go for reviews and trailers on YouTube, find a reviewer (such as, Mr Sunday Movies) that you like and follow them – all of these will give snippets and small analysis of films that you may not have considered before.

They also help you sort through the wash. I love a good run and explosion film, and when I’m watching those I’m not expecting anything new, sometimes they get a bit ridiculous but that is all a part of the fun. However, as much as I enjoy those – a movie that keeps you thinking about after you have watched it can be just perfect. Movies like, Black Swan, Birdmanand most recently Colossal. Colossal was brilliant and so much more than what the trailer made it seem – it is not a standard rom-com. All these movies are open to analysis with unambiguous endings, this makes them made to be discussed and that makes them interesting. 

Regardless of the brilliance of some movies, it is the standard action films that are the money makers. Hollywood will continue to churn them out until such time as they become unprofitable – just think when was the last time you watched a western genre film? These were the most popular film genre in the 1950’s & 60’s. Just remember when you start thinking that Hollywood has run out of ideas, maybe it is time to get out of your comfort zone.

Feature Image: Hollywood by eGuide Travel (CC BY 2.0)

Science Fiction Tropes: Destroy the Queen!

‘…the odds are overwhelming, the [insert name] have us out numbered a million to one, but if can just [insert action] all of the others will be destroyed.’  – random movie speech.

This is a reasonably standard trope in science fiction and it is one that I detest. Most of the time these stories are build up and knock down, repeated several times, and then the aha moment comes for the characters and the viewing audience groans; its pathetic.

I love science fiction movies and the more we have the better, but endings such as these just rob the audience of any gratification, because it is a story that has been seen a hundred times before, and honestly it has no real world application. I would challenge anyone to give an example of a conflict in which one particular part of an army was targeted and all the other soldiers just gave up. Most soldiers are fighting for a cause – be it the need to prove something right or otherwise and you can’t destroy an idea in such a short amount of time.

Some examples of movies that use this trope are:

  • The Fifth Element (1997) – Corben Dallas is fighting the Mangalores, they are pinned down and clearly out numbered. Dallas states that taking out the leader and the other will give up fighting. This works because the Mangalores intelligence or lack of had already been established, so the audience understands why they stopped fighting.
  • The Phantom Menace (1999) – Young Anakin is fighting the droid ships in space. The mission, they must destroy the control ship and the droids will cease to function. This doesn’t work, as the Star Wars universe has been established as having sentient droids – even where the soldier robots make jokes with each other. Are we really expected to believe that someone was controlling their ability to make jokes and complain?
  • Independence Day (1996) – All of the opponents have force fields on their ship, that are controlled by a mother ship. They destroy the ship and the force fields fail and suddenly the tide has been turned. Ignoring the absurdity of the plot, this doesn’t work because there are still millions of ships, and soldiers available to the aliens.

The trope exists as nothing more than a short cut to an obstacles, it is almost as if there was a writer to get them to one point, and then another to write the solution. It is flat out lazy story telling.

The title image for this post is from Star Trek: Beyond, where they do use this trope, however they changed it into a much more entertaining one. I didn’t mind its use in Star Trek: Beyond because the fighters moved as one central unit other than individuals, like in Independence Day and Star Wars, and the explanation of how they operated and the way they were defeated was well developed; it went beyond the destruction of one man, ship or queen.

For this trope to be used properly writers need to establish ground rules, how things work and why they do. You can’t build a wall and then smash out a door when it becomes a necessity – that shit gets messy – you need to build the door frame first and the wall around it, for that smooth exit from the building.

Title Image: Star Trek: Beyond (screenshot)

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