glenn criddle | cynical celluloid | march 2019
Yet another attempt at resurrecting the Ghostbusters franchise is underway and a film that so far has been notably apolitical in comparison to the overtly and provocatively political 2016 reboot, has had some reaction to it, with some critics and the “Answer the Call" fans seemingly set to raise a ruckus a year and a half ahead of the film's slated release date.
“The Hollywood Reporter" article from Jan. 16, 2019, took a passive-aggressive swipe at the idea of an actual sequel and oddly, figures that Jason Reitman is counter-productive on the grounds that he's not known for that kind of special effects comedy film, though I have to say that Paul Feig was even more of a wildcard for Ghostbusters and was chosen with intent, even chased to the exclusion and at the expense of Ivan Reitman to fulfill Amy Pascal's desire to make a specific statement with the film. And political it most certainly was with heavy-handed social politics, shaming and insulting fans who so much as voiced concerns (curiously ignoring the female backlash against the reboot) and even going so far as to get involved with the contentious presidential run.
“Ghostbusters" (2016) was doomed from the moment it decided to ignore its origins and the final product was a film that on first viewing was no more than okay at best, but even in this short time it's aged very badly on repeat viewings and that's not something that can be said of the original.
So far the new remake, set for a 2020 release, is going back to the original Ghostbusters universe with the original stars – as far as they can be gotten hold of with Murray's infamous fickleness and Ramis having passed – coming back to hand on the torch to a new generation. Interestingly, the apparent direction isn't something I'd have guessed and I must admit, it does carry its own risks; the new characters are children: a boy and a girl aged 12 and 13. Transcripts from leaked audition tapes (hnentertainment.co, Feb 14, 2019) suggest surprisingly well-pitched aspects of the girl's character in particular and does go some way to allaying my initial skepticism, but one thing seems apparent from this peek so far: Jason Reitman is going for a new audience whilst trying to be respectful to the world of Ghostbusters.
It should be the most obvious thing in the world, even back when “Answer the Cal"l was just ramping up production, that there's very little time to further the original story rather than redo it and this is likely the last chance to tie it all together by concluding the original stars'story and moving on respectfully. And while there's a chance it could all end up badly, I'm wanting, nearly needing, to see a powerful part of my youth be given the send-off it deserves and hope for continuity.
This said, I can understand why Leslie Jones is livid at the news and Paul Feig is disappointed (though surely not surprised). It's just another burn for the 2016 crew but it's very clear that “Answer the Call" was, even with the most generous phrasing, a disaster for Sony and just not that good a film. I honestly can't see AtC being held in much esteem in the future by anyone other than the kind of people who now love the Star Wars prequels – a niche to say the least – but one thing that can be said about AtC: Even with the heaviest revisionist review, it isn't Ghostbusters; it's a Paul Feig parody. That's his thing, after all.
With this new film there is at least the chance for continuity, for the franchise (and I still hate thinking of Ghostbusters in those vomitus corporate terms) to go forward and for Sony to get the chance to make more spin-offs and more sequels. For the fans, hopefully this means a chance to see the heroes from the originals bow out on more favorable terms than the embarrassing and disrespectful way they were hand-waved away in AtC.
What the new movie is apparently shaping up to be is a very different movie in several respects and that's okay, it really is. We are at a point where the next generation has to replace the old guard and with Jason Reitman at the helm, regardless of his lack of filmography in this specific genre, I feel at least that it'll try to be respectful. While we're on the subject of “The Hollywood Reporter" observation on Jason Reitman's filmography not matching up with the kind of film Ghostbusters is expected to be, neither was his father's before the original “Ghostbusters" was made. Previous to “Ghostbusters," Ivan was involved with a rather diverse range of films including two of body horror auteur David Cronenberg's early feature films, “Stripes" and an amusingly titled film called “Cannibal Girls," which I now have to track down. No one had made a film like “Ghostbusters" before and before anyone points it out, the 1970's kids TV series which had the name first was more like a Scooby Doo-themed Three Stooges filtered through the eyes of a high Ed Wood, but Ivan Reitman and his friends went and made a memorable and culturally significant film that has since earned preservation in the library of congress.
I personally see the original “Ghostbusters" as having been lightning in a bottle. There's a good chance that whatever comes, it can never live up to the original that caught everyone off guard but with the names attached to this project and apparent enthusiasm from Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson (we'll see what Murray does), I do have some legitimate reasons to be excited about this. Hopefully Jason Reitman will at least be able to put the old guard to rest with a suitable final bow and, if all goes well, allow the Ghostbusters world to move on and thrive. Given the look of some of the ideas, it'll likely tick a few boxes for the current audience, too. I'm overall hopeful for this. Bring on a sequel and nuts to the remake.
He's British so forgive the extra U's and the use of the letter S instead of Z. If there's one thing that typifies Glenn's writing it's the 'Video Nasties,' a long list of movies that offended all and sunder during the 1980s in the UK. It's those seemingly offensive fringes of cinema that informed his writing on cinema and the more political area of censorship with a more sympathetic approach to those films that push the limits of taste. But don't worry, he does talk about normal stuff too and isn't likely to go off on a horror movie fuelled rampage.