(Planet Me)
Saturday, July 30, 2016

In which a while, male man offers an opinion.

Already I've seen ridiculous – and undeniably stupid – comments from people who call this film 'pro-feminist, man-hating propaganda'. People who by their own admission haven't even seen the film, but seen the trailers. That’s why these comments are stupid. (The trailers are rubbish, by the way).

I understand the... fear. We live in a time of a dearth of original ideas. Of remakes, and reboots, of sequels, and prequels. Of tone deaf stupidity, where the plots don't make sense, where the characters misjudge the source material, where Batman and Superman and Aliens and Predators are all exploited ruthlessly by bored and cynical executives to make money by creating appallingly bad films that make this day and age look idiotic but make money. Where it seems.. OK.. to have a film where a psychotic billionaire orphan in a suit can punch an alien Superman, until they bond over their mothers having the same name. An all female Ghostbusters sounds, on paper, fucking awful. A terrible gimmick placed on top of a pointless cynical moneygrab. A joyless excuse to make profit by raping a well known, and much loved, modern legend with a self-consciously quirky, somewhat unjustifiable, spin.

I get it. I really do. And on paper – and by the atrocious trailers – the film looked like all my fears come true. It could have been one of the worst films ever made, an utterly awful, degrading pillage of the original concept. The film was poorly sold and pitched, and every bit of pre-release publicity looks utter crud. I completely understand if you don't see it because you think it's a pointless remake that looks unfunny. If you're boycotting it because its manhating political correctness gone mad from Hollywood liberal gay jews, you’re an idiot and I'll never get that… and this is why we can't have nice things. It’s Venk-MAN, not Venk-LADY, after all.

But you're wrong. This isn't a remake, or a sequel. It's a film about “Ghostbusters” in an alternate universe. Remember that all the ghosts caught in the original film go... somewhere? This might very well be the alternate reality they go into. A world where Stantz got drunk and flunked the exam, and became a cab driver. Where Zeddemore never answered an ad that was never placed, and became an undertaker. A world where there is a covert government agency that deals with these things, but less a Men In Black and more a Men In Black, Boring Suits.

Judged by any standard it's a fun film. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But it stands head and shoulders above the vast majority of re-imaginings/remakes that comprise modern blockbuster films. Maybe we've been trained by 30+ years of dreck by Michael Bay, Damon Lindelof, and Zack Snyder – but that's the world we live in now.

Plot wise, it's slight, but – at the same time – it works. Like many modern films, the key villain's motive is at best, slender, at worst, non-existent. Then again, the key villain isn't really a villain at all – and the villan is both unknown (and unknowable), with a motive of simple world domination. For some people that’s motive enough. Remember bad guys are bad guys because they do things that are bad, that we could never consider, for reasons that don’t make sense to us.

The key thing to remember here is that “Ghostbusters” now is, however you slice, not only a damn good comedy horror thing, but also – and this is important at the back – a parody of dunderheaded macho movies. Chris Hemsworth's character Kevin may be obviously too stupid to breathe, but – but – that's the point. We've all seen films where the female sidekick is a terrified, squealing bimbo who would die after 28 seconds in the real world, or could be replaced by a sexy lamp with no obvious effect : make that same imbecile male, and suddenly all the menchildren are squealing about feminazi propaganda like the eejits they are.

Ghostbusters” merely makes that terrible cliché male, and shows how painfully inane objectification is. If you don't get that, they're making the point about people like you. (Hemsworth has some gold in here, and it's a playful side of him I wish we'd see more).

Of the 'Ghostbusters', each character takes elements from the original team, and re-positions them. Kate McKinnon is Spenglers tech genius, mixed with Stantz's puppyish enthusiasm. Leslie Jones Patty veers into cliché, with the standard backchattin' loud tough black gal stereotype seen in dozens of similar films, but also a unquestioning acceptance, which there should be more of. Ghosts are real, and whilst they are rare, I’ve been in enough situations to know they are a tangible fact. All consciousness is energy that is released from the vessel of the body into a different form at death. Sometimes that form just happens to be a huge floating blob of angry CGI.

But you know, ain't nobody needs another fucking Ozzy Osborne cameo.

Thank Zuul for that.

The film propels along, with a wellpaced tone and structure, no obvious plot holes (which, by the way, I can’t believe has to be mentioned as a positive), a sense of escalation, and works well. The cameos are – frankly – pointless and illjudged,but, overall, the film has enough invention, charm, and wit to stand on its own. It won’t set the world alight because.. you can’t catch a ghost in a trap twice.. but it is certainly much better than near enough everything at a cineplex recently. And it pisses off the manbabies who moan about man-hating feminazi’s, so hey, I’m in for that!

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