Having been born in 1983, I was a child of the late 80s and a devotee of the Ghostbusters. I was one year old when the original film was released, six years old when the sequel was released, and eight years old when the first cartoon series (The Real Ghostbusters) ended. I was obsessed. I had action figures. I had a toy Ecto 1 car. I had a dollhouse that was the Ghostbusters fire station and I parked my Ecto 1 inside of it. I drank the Ecto Cooler flavor of Hi-C.

For my birthday this year I went to a special showing of the original 1984 Ghostbusters at a local cinema. I think it’s safe to say that I am a pretty big fan of busting ghosts, and of the somewhat campy comedic style of the franchise. So how did I feel when I learned that there would finally be a third film, that the film would be a reboot of the franchise, and that said reboot would feature an all-female cast of ghotsbusters? Ecstatic.

Introducing the New Ghostbusters

Why not an all-female cast of ghost hunters and paranormal investigators? Although each of the four new characters is based on one of the original archetypes, this new generation of ghost girls made their personas into their own. We begin with Melissa McCarthy who plays Dr. Abby Yates. She’s the new version of Dan Aykroyd’s Ray Stantz but instead of just being aloof and obsessed with the paranormal she has a sharp wit and a lot more common sense than her predecessor. Next we move on to Kristen Wiig who plays Dr. Erin Gilbert. Wiig’s character is the updated Peter Venkman (originally played by Bill Murray) but instead of being a sleazy con-artist like Venkman she’s abandoned paranormal investigation in an attempt to earn her tenure at Columbia University.

Our crew is rounded out by Kate McKinnon as Dr. Jillian Holtzmann, the ass-kicking version of Harold Ramis’s Egon Spengler. Holtzmann is what Spengler would have been like with the same amount of social awkwardness and pure scientific genius but also with a few years (decades?) of martial arts training. Last but not least is Leslie Jones who plays Patty Tolan, an outsider who has a run-in with a ghost in the subway system and becomes part of the group. In that she’s an outsider to the group she’s somewhat like Ernie Hudson’s character Winston Zeddmore from the original films, but besides that and being African American the similarities are few and far between.

Busting Ghosts

So now you know the who’s who but what’s actually going on? The story itself begins with some parallels to the original. In the opening few scenes we have an unassuming tour guide assaulted by an apparition, our three main scientists getting ejected unceremoniously from their respective institutions, and then subsequently getting slimed by a ghost and setting up shop in an abandoned fire station above a Chinese take-out restaurant.

But, the parallels in the story mostly end there. I was relieved that the story wasn’t a rehashing of the exact same tale told in Ghostbusters and then Ghostbusters 2. You may not recall, but they actually had the exact same plot. Instead, our new team is trying to establish themselves as legitimate scientists while also piecing together a puzzle that could lead to an apocalypse of biblical proportions. I’m oversimplifying a bit. The core outline of conflict is very similar, yes, but it doesn’t feel like we’re being told the same story.

That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of cameos and tributes to the original film franchise because there are. There are government officials trying to keep the Ghostbusters from doing their job. There is a hearse that serves as the team’s transportation. There’s obscure arcane tomes, gibberish scientific terms, and plenty of slime. There are cameos by Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Unfortunately there was no training montage but then again, this isn’t the 80’s.

One place that tribute to the original franchise wasn’t so great was in the interaction between Wiig’s character Dr. Gilbert and the receptionist Kevin, played by Chris Hemsworth. In the original series, Bill Murray’s character is a chauvinist pig whose first scene involves him hitting on a college student who is part of a study he’s conducting. Next up is Sigourney Weaver being the object of his lust. Why Dana Barrett doesn’t immediately take out a restraining order against Dr. Venkman is one of the mysteries of the universe or we could just chalk it up to the fact that this is how women could expect to be treated in 1984.

But I digress.

What’s problematic with Wiig and Hemsworth is the way in which Wiig keeps forcefully flirting with Hemsworth’s character in often very, very uncomfortable ways. While it often gives McCarthy an opportunity to take Wiig down a notch it seems to be an incredibly forced attempt to highlight the absurdity of the way men like Dr. Venkman treat women like Dana Barrett. Hopefully this will be a character flaw that they can address in a sequel.

The Verdict

I had a lot of fun watching this movie. A lot of the jokes were lame. The story wasn’t very creative. But then again I’ve seen Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2 quite a few times and those films were also full of lame jokes and a lack of creative storytelling. That’s not why you see Ghostbusters. You see Ghostbusters because you want to see ghosts getting busted and the reboot was chock full of ghost fights that easily put the original franchise to shame.

The CGI was perhaps overused but not overdone. The technology upgrades given to the equipment like PKE meters, proton packs, ghost traps, and Ecto 1 were fantastic. The acting was not awful even if the direction could have been better and about 20% of the jokes made me laugh (my wife only laughed about 5% of the time but for a film like this that’s a great accomplishment).

As summer blockbusters go, this one is a lot of fun, and to be honest I think keeps up the tradition of the Ghostbusters franchise quite well. I’m already looking forward to the sequel.

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.