Paul Feig's Ghostbusters is a by-the-numbers, uninspired summer blockbuster masquerading as a work of feminism, a film thats characters, from top to bottom, are underdeveloped characterizations that simply serve the narrative thrust of the story. I'm all for woman having their fair share of starring roles in major blockbuster films, but can we please give them something more inspiring than this? The heart of the film is centered around the relationship between Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wig) & Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), two scientists who have drifted apart due to their work in studying the paranormal. When the film begins Erin is working at a prestigious university, a character who has long left behind her passion for the study of the paranormal, conforming to the bureaucracy of academia that snubs its nose at even the idea that supernatural forces are real. When ghosts begin to appear all over Manhattan, Erin reconnects with Abby, who never gave up her passion for paranormal studies, as the two leave the overbearing bureaucracy of academia to start their own business in an attempt to successfully prove that the supernatural world does exist. This film is a great example of inorganic storytelling in the way this relationship unfolds, a film that routinely tells us what we are supposed to expect instead of showing us through the characters' interactions and visual storytelling. Nothing about their relationship feels fleshed out or even earned, leading to a finale that falls flat, at least in terms of the emotional core centered around Erin nearly sacrificing herself to save her friend. While the characterizations of Abby and Erin are haphazard, the other two characters are even worse, with Kate McKinnon's one-note, oddball scientist routine grew timesome fast, while Leslie Jones' character in itself is a borderline racist stereotype. First, The Keeping Room and now this? What is with "feminist" films and their troubling characterizations of African American characters? Anyway, I would not blame the cast itself for most of these problems, as Paul Feig's storytelling acumen made it very clear that he was out of his element, with his style for improvisation becomes taxing on the viewer, weighing down the pacing of the story to a painful degree. This leads to the film having a very low batting average when it comes to comedy, as it's the type of film that assaults the viewer with jokes at an alarming rate, hoping at least some of them will stick. Perhaps improvisational comedy, to this degree, simply doesn't fit in narrative-driven, supernatural comedy blockbuster, but I'd argue the problem more lies in the filmmakers inability to recognize what jokes could be trimmed, failing to grasp the idea that less can be more when it comes to effective comedy. From an aesthetic perspective, Ghostbusters looks great, with a punchy, color pallette that is vibrant and alive, featuring a finale that certainly delivers on the action, thrills and visual "wow" factor, while also being one of the more empowering scenes as you witness these four woman laying waste to the impending threat in front of them. I'm too lazy to even touch on the troubling thematic elements of Ghostbusters which essentially says "fuck individual rights and freedom, yay big government, secrecy, and inclusion. I have no problem with political commentaries, even ones I fundamentally disagree with, but the film wants to have its cake and eat it too, as this whole idea of the government funding them aka taking control, completely rejects the film's own setup, which is related to Erin being a free thinking character who breaks free of shackles of Academia where differences of opinion are met with hostility. Paul Feig's Ghostbusters is a film in which I left the theater almost feeling sorry for the four principle actresses, being a film full on contrivances and bombastic, low-ratio humor, unfortunately ending up as just another by-the-numbers blockbuster that left me disenfranchised due to the promise of being something different.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.