If you subscribe to the idea of multiverses (where there are various universes for TMNT, DC Superheroes, and Marvel superheroes alike), I like to think of “Ghostbusters” 2016 as an Elseworlds tale, where the concept of Ghostbusters exists, but on its own plain and on its own terms. The Ghostbusters we know from the eighties are also existent, but in their own personas and fulfilling their own purposes. “Ghostbusters” 2016 even as its own horror comedy is just mediocre. It’s not as great as the original “Ghostbusters” but is definitely a notch above “Ghostbusters 2.” Melissa McCarthy is her usual wry self as Abby Yates, a once paranormal researcher who has spent many years trying live down co-publishing a book about the paranormal.
When her boss at her university learns of her history, he fires her, and she is forced to reunite with fellow ghost enthusiast Erin Gilbert, as played by Melissa McCarthy, when they’re attacked by a poltergeist. McCarthy is dialed down for this turn out, injecting a bit of Dan Akroyd in a charming role as a heroine who is hell bent on hunting ghosts and keeping New York safe, even in the face of a condescending mayor (Andy Garcia) and his assistant. Deciding to investigate a series of strange hauntings all over the city, they team with bold engineer Jillian (Kate McKinnon) and New York expert/subway worker Patty (Leslie Jones) to take on a larger scheme involving a madman and an army of the undead.
I don’t know if I’d argue that Paul Feig’s retelling of “Ghostbusters” is a masterpiece, but it’s good enough from beginning to end to offer an entertaining and solid horror comedy, confused as it may be. I say that because rather than build its own thing, Feig’s “Ghostbusters” hops back and forth from trying to carve its own legacy and then relying too heavily on the established film and its spin offs. I love how the movie acknowledges the original film in its own way, but when it tries to topple the Stay Puft climax, and doubles up on the Slimer it seems to be trying way too hard. Feig has some really good and strong elements to his take on “Ghostbuters,” most of which are the cast. McCarthy and Wiig are great as best friends turned ghost hunters, while Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones steal the show as rough around the edges heroes in training, all of whom spend the duration of the movie feeling their around their harrowing job.
I also enjoyed the villain and his devious plan to somewhat bring New York back to an older age, that eventually becomes just a mission to spite these four strong women. The special effects are also rather excellent, with some unique and fun ghost designs and eerie new specters that are introduced to battle the characters; this includes their logo which becomes sentient and very evil. That said what holds back the film is its own clear lack of menace. No one ever really feels in danger during the narrative, especially when Patty is able to walk around with a demonic bat on her shoulders without anyone really becoming alarmed. Plus the motivations of the villain and the inept mayor are absolutely weak and felt forced to keep the narrative moving forward.
How would the mayor discredit the Ghostbusters if over two hundred people just saw a ghost bat wreak havoc? And what were the villains’ actual big plans, anyway? It just felt vaguely written as a means to getting from point A to point B. I was also never sold on Chris Hemsworth as inept secretary Kevin, whose own comical idiocy becomes a liability to the group, eventually. 2016’s telling of “Ghostbusters” may not have the snap, pop, and menace of the original 1984 film, but I was never bored with it, and I definitely rooted for the heroes until the end.