Saturday, 31 January 2015

Sunday Scribblings - Ghostbusters

So this week, we received the official confirmation that we would be getting a new Ghostbusters film and it would be recast with female leads. As was in the case when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman, the Internet went crazy.

As a fangirl, I am required for the sake of sisterhood to get up on a soapbox and cheer that this is a win for women everywhere. Four talented actresses and comediennes are going to be showcased with a brand that is not just famous, but to my generation, venerated. How could it go wrong?

Quite spectacularly I can tell you.

According to Paul Feig, this version will be ‘scarier than the original’, with no relation to the characters in the 1984 film and will be a reboot.

Come on, when were the Ghostbusters ever meant to be scary? The title alone tells you what you’re in for. It was always tongue in cheek. There were some tense moments but how afraid can you be when your main monster is a giant, walking marshmallow sailor? It’s okay though, because that absurdity is what made the movie so special. 

Making it scarier than the original is changing the tone and the spirit of what the Ghostbusters always intended to be.

If that isn’t enough to raise flags, then absence of Venkman, Egon, Winston and Spengler should be. Unless this film is being directed towards the millenials or even Generation Y who may have no idea who these guys are, everyone is going to be comparing the new cast to these originals. That’s a hell of a comparison to overcome.  

Those who saw Ghostbusters back in the day, know that the magic of the film had to do with the amazing ensemble of Murray, Ackroyd, Ramis and Hudson. Even then, Murray’s unlikely turn as the sleazy college professor turned bona fide hero was standout. For years, rumblings of any new film couldn’t even be taken seriously without Murray’s involvement.

If this wasn’t bad enough already, the new film will be a reboot too.

For every Batman, Star Trek, Dredd and Godzilla that’s done justice to the source material, there’s also a Robocop, Amazing Spiderman and Pink Panther waiting to do the exact opposite. The world of celluloid is littered with the carcasses of failed reboots. Now the term provokes a knee-jerk reaction in the Internet crowd  and don’t even get me started on prequels

Three strikes already for a film that hasn’t even been filmed.

From the tone of this post, you might be forgiven for thinking I hate that this film is happening. No, I don’t. I’d love to see a scary movie about four scientists who just so happen to be women, fighting ghosts and monsters with some humour in it. I think that would be a great ride. I just don’t want it to be called Ghostbusters

Even if the premise is the same as the Ghostbusters, there’s enough about this movie to be its own creature. Its going to be darker, its going have all new characters and  no attachment to the original. So why call it a Ghostbusters film at all?  There's nothing wrong with having a similiar premise and a different brand name. 

When The X-Files first emerged on our screens, there were comparisons to the cult favourite Nightstalker with Carl Kolchak. The same could be said about Supernatural on the CW, two brothers on the road, hunting monsters bore a striking resemblance to two FBI agents, travelling America doing the exact same thing.  I believe news of this film would have been received better if it had no affiliation to the Ghostbusters at all.

My worry is that a great film may end up being bogged down by the resentment of fans who want a Ghostbusters film like they remembered in 1984. From the internet reaction, this is a very real possibility.  Armchair critics have the power to make or break genre films. Just ask Joel Schumacher.  The power of social media has never been stronger and the ability to taint a product before anyone sees a centimetre of film is not to be underestimated. So far, I’ve heard accusations of gimmickry, pandering and some truly misogynistic bile I won’t repeat here.

If this movie fails, the blame will not be on the fact that an unfair expectation was placed on it by being a Ghostbuster reboot. It will become just another example of women being unable to carry an event film.

Is it telling that Black Widow had to be introduced to a theatre going audience in Iron Man instead of leading her own movie like every other Avenger? (Don't say Hawkeye, I have no idea what's going on there!).  Wonder Woman has to make an appearance in Batman vs. Superman before she can get her own movie. We live in a world where obscure comic books such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Suicide Squad get their own films before comicdom’s greatest heroine.

So yeah, this movie being called the Ghostbusters does worry me a lot because it will only add ammunition to the stereotype that women can’t headline blockbuster films if it fails. It will mean that actresses will continued be relegated to window dressing and damsels in distress or worst yet; girl in refrigerator roles.  The exception being romcoms and Lifetime movies.  If the studio thinks that making a Ghostbusters film with female leads is enough to overcome the prejudice of the audience, the reaction from the Internet this week should give them pause. 

Let's keep our fingers crossed that this film can rise above its detractors because the ramifications if it fails will be more than just us not seeing another Ghostbusters film again.

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