Ghostbusters (Cinema Review)

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12A – 116mins – 2016 – 3D


 

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS

When director and co-writer Paul Bridesmaids Feig is sick of the spurious shit over-opinionated anonymous keyboard trolls sling his way on social media, he writes a biting retort into his controversial screenplay (“Ain’t no bitches be bustin’ ghosts!”). But basement-dwelling bell boy Rowan (Neil Casey) deals with his lowly lot in life in a far less passive-aggressive way: he opens a vortex between our world and the afterlife, allowing ghosts to inhabit New York City.

“If you see something, say something.”

So who you gonna call? The Masters of the Metaphy— or Ghostbusters, as they are more popularly known. But not as we have known them since 1984, as this highly-divisive 21 century reboot reimagines Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis’ apparition-zappers as theory-chasing paranormal investigators and publishers of “Ghosts From Our Past” Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). These two temporarily-estranged BFFs are joined by nuclear engineer and equipment creator Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and subway employee Patty (Leslie Jones), whose sat-nav-like knowledge of the city – and uncle’s hearse – come in mighty handy to the city-saving operation.

Written off before a single frame was filmed, GB ’16 is not the abomination the brigade of misogynistic, childhood-cherishing ‘fanboy’ naysayers feared – there are nods to the three decade franchise (from a bust of the late Ramis to an iconic 100ft parade balloon), winking cameos and respectful parallels aplenty (the firehouse; graffiti-inspired logo; Erin banging on the window of a restaurant a la Louis Tully). The new origin story and characters are, by-and-large, likable. Patty, in particular, is endearingly bullish and integrates well despite being the only non-scientist, while I have legitimately never like a Melissa McCarthy character as much as the charming and non-gregarious Abby.

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So, all good, then? Weeeell, sadly not. Granted this might well be a personal gripe given how I hated Feig’s crude and swear-stuffed spoof Spy (2015), and could happily take or leave The Heat (2013), but the humour in GB ’16 did not tally to my tastes at all. Often played far too broad, forced and occasionally veering close to embarrassing (Ozzy Osbourne and a particular joyriding spook, in particular). Feig and co-writer Katie MADtv Dippold managed to raise a smirk on my face less than a handful of times in nearly two hours…

Chris In the Heart of the Sea Hemsworth 8plays the flip-reversed role of (gasp!) male receptionist Kevin far too dippy – he’s so inexcusably dumb he’s almost offensive, while Kate McKinnon’s disingenuously quirky character traits left me stony-faced throughout. So, too, the influx of cheesy celebratory dance scenes. Yeah, it was vaguely comical once, but they are employed too often and for too long – and completely dominate the Easter Egg-stuffed closing credits.

The much-anticipated cameos from the stars of the iconic original films were somewhat hampered by a horrible tendency for all – bar Ernie “Winston” Hudson and Annie “Janine” Potts – to ham it up something chronic. Paul Feig clearly wanted this to be BIGGER, BOLDER and FUNNIER than ever before, which might explain why his spooks are neon-tinged. The CG special effects here to get a pass, however, as the bright style works with the movie’s zany exuberance.

Image result for ghostbusters uk posterHaving had to give another of my 80s favourites, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows a second chance following a week break, I may have to readjust/downgrade my expectations and re-watch Ghostbusters again next week. But my first impression from opening day is a disappointingly dispirited one, when I really hoped I’d come out feeling spirited away.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 2 stars

 

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Central Intelligence (Cinema Review)

15 – 108mins – 2016


 

BETWEEN THE ROCK AND A HART PLACE

Utilizing some truly impressive Captain America-esque CG de-aging, we witness tubby brace-face Robbie Wheirdicht (Dwayne Johnson) hauled out of the showers and humiliated at a pep rally in front of his entire high school. Popular all-round cool kid Calvin Joyner (Kevin Get Hard Hart) is the only one to comfort the naked nerd.

Fast forward two decades, and having long since plunged from his peak of marrying his high school sweetheart (Danielle Nicolet), the man formerly known as the “Golden Jet” is now a bored middle-manager accountant reluctant to attend his school reunion. Accepting a friend request from an unrecognised name, Calvin is totally unaware of what he is letting himself in for…

Having worked out for six hours a day, every day (“Anyone can do it!”) and changed his name, Robbie Wheirdicht has reinvented himself as tattooed man mountain “Bob Stone”. He may still like fanny packs, unicorns and Twilight, but Bob absolutely abhors bullies – oh, and he’s a top CIA agent.

Hart sticks to his successful Ride Along mould of screechy, irritating everyman sidekick, this time dragged along on a top secret undercover spy mission by the amiable-but-deadly peck-flexer who requires his former classmate’s accountancy skills in unlocking satellite codes being sold in a bidding war on the black market.

Directed by We’re The Miller’s Rawson Marshall Thurber, Central Intelligence really sparks to life when the mismatched flip-reversed duo are sharing memories and trading bantz, but the double-crossing, espionage malarkey involving rogue agent the “Black Badger” is so perplexingly conveyed that half the time you’re never sure who to plump for as bullets fly and Amy Ryan’s Agent Harris tries to lure Calvin away from under Bob’s wing.

A tortuous interrogation scene between two purported good guys is particularly tonally awry – a major crux to any comedy is when questions over the moral validity of the joker overwhelms the power of the punchlines. Crucial targets are then missed.

Central IntelligenceA trio of “I never knew they were in this!” big name cameos (who I won’t name here) bring some light relief to the deluge of fisticuffs and shoot-outs, but for all its big, flashy, fast-mouthed fun, much like Calvin Joyner, Central Intelligence never quite lives up to early promise of its full potential.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 3 stars