Review for Ghostbusters 
I was not going to watch this. I love the original Ghostbusters, while its sequel isn’t a great film, but it is a guilty pleasure. But over the years, I’ve followed the futile attempts to reunite the cast again for a third outing, eventually laid to rest when Harold Ramis (Egon Spengler) passed. After that, it was scary the speed with which a reboot movie was announced. For a while there, there were going to be two competing reboots, but this is the one that we eventually got. The idea of a different cast didn’t appeal to me; it was the cast that brought the magic in the original films, and I didn’t think that you could capture that particular chemistry again. And I have to admit that when the gender-switched casting was mooted, I too was hovering over the gimmick/political correctness button. Then the trailer dropped, which was bad, and I tuned out of the whole Ghostbusters hype.
I tuned back in when the trailer was listed as the most reviled trailer on Youtube. It wasn’t that bad. And then, when the film was finally released, it somehow became the most hated film in Hollywood history. How dare it have a female cast, how dare it cast a black woman, how dare she have the temerity to have a social media presence. Let’s issue forth a torrent of racist, sexist misogynistic slime to stop this film challenging our socially conservative views. Suddenly keyboard warrior film critics were right wing extremists. I guess they needed something to do after Gamergate. The only way to counter extremism is to face it. Much as I didn’t really want to, I decided to seek out and watch Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (it got re-titled for UK home video release). This Blu-ray has the theatrical release (116:34), and the extended edition (133:44) available through branching.
Physicist Erin Gilbert is on the verge of cementing her career at Columbia University, about to get tenure, only her past comes back to haunt her. When she was younger, with her friend Abby Yates, they wrote a book on the paranormal, explaining the unexplainable with scientific rigour. It’s the kind of history that could turn any scientist into a laughing stock, and all of a sudden it’s the first listing that appears when anyone Googles Erin’s name. It turns out that Abby Yates never gave up on the search for ghosts, and with engineer Jillian Holtzmann, she’s been developing the technology to detect and confine ghosts, and the book is back on sale to fund her research. Erin goes to see Abby to get her to remove the book listing, but gets drawn back into the science of the supernatural when they actually find a ghost. Suddenly supernatural sightings are up in New York. Someone else has read Erin and Abby’s book, and disillusioned with the world has decided to bring about the Apocalypse.
Ghostbusters gets a 2.39:1 widescreen 1080p transfer or thereabouts. This film got the full 3D and IMAX treatment when it was released theatrically, and there’s a nifty attempt to emulate that on this Blu-ray. Whenever there is some action on screen, some ghosts coming towards you, or proton beams flying forth, they will escape the bounds of the 2.39:1 ratio and extend across the black bars to the edge of the screen. It’s a striking and effective use of the screen real estate, and will no doubt look even better if you buy the 3D version of the movie. The image is clear and sharp, no problems with aliasing or compression, detail levels are high, and blacks are rich and deep. The issue is one of creative choice, as Ghostbusters has gone for the ‘bubblegum’ palette, saturating every colour till it bursts off the screen, a Technicolor monstrosity that makes it look like a live action cartoon, particularly during the effects sequences and when the ghosts are on screen. 30 years of CGI evolution and effects advancement and the ghosts look less ‘real’ in this film than they did in the original Ghostbusters. In fact, they look like the ghosts from the Scooby Doo live action movie.
I have no complaints about the audio, a very effective DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English track that brings across the action brilliantly, immersing the viewer right in the middle of the spooky battles. Bass is suitably weighty, while the use of the soundstage is dynamic and creative. It makes you wish for an Atmos setup and track to really show off the film’s sound design. The dialogue is clear throughout, but if this film makes one thing clear, it’s that only Ray Parker Jr. should have recorded that theme tune. Every cover version since then has sucked.
You get two discs in a Blu-ray Amaray, one on each inner face, the sheet with the Ultraviolet code, and an o-card slipcover. The disc boots to an animated menu featuring one of those bad cover versions. The disc also holds its place in player memory after you eject it.
Disc 1 holds the film, and you get two audio commentaries, a writers’ (and director) commentary featuring Paul Feig and Katie Dippold, while the second commentary sees Paul Feig joined by other members of the crew.
There are two Gag Reels on this disc running to a total of 15:29.
There are 4 Deleted Scenes on this disc running to 9:22, one of which should not have been deleted from the Theatrical Version.
Jokes Aplenty is split into 4 but with a total Play All runtime of 31:14, offering alternate scenes with plenty of improv.
Slime Time lasts 5:15 and takes you behind the creation of the ectoplasm.
Disc 2 has the rest of the extras.
There are 30 Extended & Alternate Scenes running to a total of 85:28.
Meet the Team is an 8:04 collection of interviews with the cast.
The Ghosts of Ghostbusters lasts 13:57, and Visual Effects: 30 Years Later lasts 15:16, both looking at the spooky effects in the movie.
Chris Hemsworth is “Kevin” lasts 7:42.
There is more humour is Jokes Aplenty, which on this disc runs to 11:38.
Finally there is a Photo Gallery with an optional slideshow mode.
The Ghostbusters reboot is fun. Don’t get me wrong, the trailer’s big mistake was to try and sell this as a soft sequel to the original films, which it patently isn’t, but Ghostbusters: Answer the Call isn’t deserving of all the vitriol that’s heaped upon it. Certainly the cast works well enough to sell the story, and there is no problem with an all female cast. The perception was that they had gender switched the characters, but these characters are written wholly differently from the original. Certainly there is no dry sardonic Venkman analogue, while Holtzmann is more of a cross between Stantz and Spengler with her scientific nous combined with a childlike enthusiasm. Abby and Erin are more alike than unalike, childhood friends that share a passion, and their estrangement and reunion drives the emotional heart of the film, or it would were a major scene not cut out. It leaves a bloody obvious continuity flub in the third act when Erin rejoins the Ghostbusters despite never actually leaving (explained in the deleted scenes).
If this Ghostbusters is one thing that the originals weren’t, it’s an action movie. There is some inventive, colourful, energetic and choreographed busting action that is more the domain of the action hero than the comedienne. It’s one place where the Holtzmann character shines, despite feeling uneven and too kooky elsewhere in the film. It also offers something of a terrorism allegory, with the film’s somewhat understated antagonist leaving ghost ‘bombs’ around the city to further his apocalyptic ends.
Where this Ghostbusters falls flat for me is in the comedy. It’s mildly humorous. I belly-laughed twice, but it’s more smirk inducing than anything else. The problem is that times have changed. Hollywood comedy has become crass, in your face, and unsubtle. The original Ghostbusters wasn’t played for laughs. It took a ridiculous premise and played it straight; the comedy was understated, it came from the situations, and from Venkman’s refusal to take anything seriously, but there was no gag and punchline routine. It was smart, it had wit, and was hilarious. This Ghostbusters is aimed at an audience that Hollywood thinks are idiots, that they need everything spelt out for them. This film will hit you over the head with its punchlines until you either die laughing, or die of a cerebral haemorrhage. You just have to look at the moronic beefcake receptionist character Kevin to get an idea where the jokes are aimed.
Nothing is ever going to recapture the brilliance of the first Ghostbusters film. It’s time we as an audience give up that pipe-dream. In terms of the story and the action, this Ghostbusters is a tad better than Ghostbusters II, but in terms of comedy and characterisation it falls flat. For me, this really is more of a Scooby Doo movie than a Ghostbusters movie. As you should do with so many modern films, slip your brain out of gear and just go with the flow, and you’ll have been entertained for two hours.
You get fifteen minutes of extra footage in the Extended Edition, fifteen minutes of more comedy, more in the way of character development, and a little more plot too. As I’ve already indicated, I’m not too keen on the comedy when it comes to this movie, and an extra long introduction to the awkwardness of Erin Gilbert is not the ideal way to kick off the extra footage. But some of the character beats are appreciated, including a little added development for the film’s villain who comes across as comparatively ephemeral in the theatrical cut. If you’re a fan of the original film, you might enjoy the ‘cross the streams’ arc in this version, while the extended edition also offers a different, and I’d say better reason than the deleted scenes, for Erin’s absence from the group towards the end of the film. The extended edition is marginally better, it flows well and has fewer plot holes, but it’s not going to fix the more glaring issues with the film.
The new Ghostbusters movie isn’t great, but it is watchable, and it offers a degree of entertainment. I’ve come to expect little more than that from modern Hollywood. But it is not the crime against humanity that certain rabid sections of the Internet claimed it to be. The response to this film has had me thinking that audiences don’t deserve nice things anymore.