MANILA, Philippines – More than three decades have passed since the original Ghostbusters movie created a cultural phenomenon, and it's always hard to top something that's so iconic and deeply entrenched in popular culture's collective memory. Understandably, most revivals receive a mix of cynicism and excitement.
When it was announced that the original squad of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson was to be played by four comediennes in a new Ghostbusters film – Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones (plus Chris Hemsworth as the receptionist) – the Internet was in an uproar. (WATCH: 'Ghostbusters' reboot trailer shows new all-female cast in action)
The first trailer received 900,000 dislikes, and its director, Paul Feig was at the receiving end of misogynistic comments and even death threats on social media. (READ: 'Ghostbusters' backlash reflects Hollywood's sexism problem)
Thankfully, most of the premature vitriol didn't persist among the critics as the reboot finally rolled out in cinemas. Critics would disagree on the quality of this comedy and action flick. Even if the presence of female leads comes up as a key consideration, the judgment falls upon their performances in the film.
The reviews are in. What can we expect from this new version of Ghostbusters? Let's take a look:
The New York Times' chief film critic Manohla Dargis found the film to be a fun comedic enterprise: "Sliding into theaters on a river of slime and an endless supply of good vibes, the new, cheerfully silly Ghostbusters is that rarest of big-studio offerings – a movie that is a lot of enjoyable, disposable fun."
"It’s at once satisfyingly familiar and satisfyingly different," she wrote, adding, that it was "kind of like a new production of Macbeth or a Christopher Nolan rethink of Batman. As it turns out, the original Ghostbusters is one of those durable pop entertainments that can support the weight of not only a lesser follow-up (the 1989 sequel “Ghostbusters II”), but also a gender redo."
"That the new movie stars four women is a kind of gimmick, of course, but it’s one that the filmmakers and the excellent cast deepen with real comedy chemistry and emotionally fleshed-out performances, particularly from Ms. McCarthy and Ms. Wiig, who are playing old-friends-turned-sort-of foes who need to work some stuff out."
"Rejoice! The new Ghostbusters is good. Very good, in fact. It had to be," writes The Guardian's Nigel M Smith.
He later wrote: "Most crucially, the mean-spirited reception to the film before anyone had seen it does not seem to have put a dampener on the movie itself. Fun oozes from almost every frame; likewise the energy of a team excited to be revolutionising the blockbuster landscape."
Smith praised the "four woman show," which gave the lead quartet "a chance to showcase their own distinct brands of comedy." However, he thinks that Paul Feig had "sometimes [ladled] on the CGI a little thick.
He said, "Such huge-scale action should never risk overshadowing the tremendous chemistry of the four leads."
David Jenkins, who wrote for Little White Lies magazine, commended the cast, too: "The new Ghostbusters movie is much better than it needed to be, thanks to its stellar (and extremely charming) central cast."
He explained: "What makes this new film work is that it never draws attention to its own ingrained progressiveness. Women starring in a summer action movie should not be something that requires self congratulation, and Feig allows the material to speak for itself."
Jenkins later added that even in a movie designed to be an action blockbuster, it's the dialogue that's "golden." He wrote, "Feig also knows where his strengths lie, and as such, much of the film is given over to comedy titans like Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy just doing what they do best. It’s rare that in a summer effects movie you’d want to see more idle gabbing and fewer neon explosions, but in this case, it’s the talk that’s golden."
IndieWire's Eric Kohn referred to the sexist comments that plagued the film during its promotional period, but said this has nothing to do with its problems. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones, he said, "provides the hilarious center to a movie that otherwise has none – or, for that matter, much purpose beyond showcasing their charisma."
"Despite the misogynistic backlash suffered during the film’s promotion, the problems with Ghostbusters have nothing to do with its cast," he added.
"Its undoing stems from the same issues that plague so many overproduced, market-tested products that masquerade as movies: For all the value that may be contained in an intellectual property, it’s worthless if it can’t make old ideas feel new."
"The fact is that an estrogen-infused makeover, particularly one with such a comedically gifted cast, was a promising idea. Sadly, that's where the inventiveness ended," The Hollywoood Reporter's David Rooney wrote.
He blasted the film for what he perceived to be a lack of humor: "Although the new Ghostbusters follows the template of the original by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, the witless script by Feig and his co-writer on The Heat, Katie Dippold, has no juice. Short on both humor and tension, the spook encounters are rote collisions with vaporous CG specters that escalate into an uninvolving supernatural cataclysm unleashed upon New York's Times Square. It's all busy-ness, noise and chaos, with zero thrills and very little sustainable comic buoyancy."
IGN's Terri Schwartz, meanwhile, comments on the new film's nostalgic tendencies: "Ghostbusters can't decide whether it wants to be a completely new take on the property or a loving homage to the original, and because of that it's trapped between the two."
"As much as Feig and [co-writer Katie] Dippold remix the formula, there are too many callbacks to the original, from the cameos (only one or two of which actually work) to the catchphrases to the iconic songs to even the new film's version of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. But when Ghostbusters is doing its own riffs on these elements anyway, the film becomes burdened by the ghosts of its past."
She also particularly commented on the film's editing, "It doesn't help that the pacing undercuts what could have otherwise been strong moments."
Entertainment Weekly's Chris Nashawaty asks a fundamental question, "Is the new Ghostbusters funny?" He answers this himself, too: "Kind of, but not nearly to the degree it should be considering the talent involved."
He also felt that the new Ghostbusters is "so restrained," and went on to explain: "For starters, it’s too slavish when it nods to the original, and too flailing and flat when it strays from it."
While he has praises for the cast, he thinks that the film is "too mild and plays it too safe. Somewhere, I bet, there’s an R-rated director’s cut of the movie where these women really let it rip. I want to see that movie."
You know who to call when there's something strange in your neighborhood. Now, the question is, will you be watching the new Ghostbusters when it rolls out in Philippine cinemas this July 15? Let us know in the comments! – Rappler.com