HK Magazine - - FILM -

When the whis­pers of an all-fe­male “Ghost­busters” be­gan to cir­cu­late around the In­ter­net, they were am­pli­fied by out­rage. Mil­lions of pasty-faced on­line trolls banded to­gether from their dark, hu­mid, Cheeto-dusted base­ments, all to pro­tect the sanc­tity of a beloved 80s movie. The threat wasn’t the two sub­se­quent tele­vi­sion shows, 16 video games, comic books, a largely for­get­table sec­ond film, ac­tion fig­ures and all the rest. The Ghost­busters fran­chise, with enough spin-off materials to give Gene Sim­mons an in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plex, met its great­est back­lash yet when some­one sug­gested that women might be the he­roes this time. And the nerds were right to worry.

In this re­boot di­rected by Paul Fieg (who worked with Wiig and McCarthy on “Brides­maids”), Kris­ten Wiig plays a par­ti­cle physi­cist whose plans to make ten­ure at Columbia Univer­sity are de­railed when a book she co-au­thored with her for­mer best friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) on the para­nor­mal resur­faces on­line. Mean­while, Abby spends her days with en­gi­neer Jil­lian Holtz­man (Kate McKin­non) tool­ing around with ghost-catch­ing ma­chines at a tech­ni­cal col­lege, wait­ing for a live one. A bizarre event in the base­ment of a house mu­seum unites the team; an­other in a sub­way tun­nel es­tab­lishes that their wonky sci­ence and rudi­men­tary ma­chin­ery might have some legs. With this they have a busi­ness, and their busi­ness re­quires a sec­re­tary (played with hunky, dimwit­ted charm by Chris Hemsworth), and a car, sup­plied by Les­lie Jones’ streets­mart Patty. The Ghost­busters are formed, and not a minute too soon: In some base­ment, some pasty weirdo is sum­mon­ing an inferno of ghostly be­ings for a plan that will turn the city in­side out.

Fans of the orig­i­nal will find fa­mil­iar foot­ing in this re­vamped fran­chise: in-jokes and cameos are gen­er­ously sprin­kled through­out the film. New York looks the same as the 1984 orig­i­nal. It’s an end­lessly au­tum­nal city with enough art deco ar­chi­tec­ture to sus­tain ex­ces­sive amounts of pro­tonic un­leash­ing; where a gut­ted Chi­nese restau­rant can be rented out to a crack team of sci­en­tists—de­spite their untested nukes and lack of busi­ness model—in­stead of, say, to a cool new startup. In this New York, walkie talkies trump What­sApp, pro­fes­sors still have a hope of mak­ing ten­ure, and the only sign of tech­no­log­i­cal progress is us­ing Youtube as mar­ket­ing tool.

But in 2016, “Ghost­busters” gets the ben­e­fit of 3D:

With ghosts whizzing past your head and bolts of bright red positronic streams flash­ing off the screen, the ac­tion is so­phis­ti­cated and slap­stick. Kate McKin­non lets loose a full-on pro­ton pack as­sault with bal­letic grace, prac­ti­cally moon­walk­ing in slow mo­tion into a sky­line set aflame with red light­ning and fly­ing ec­to­plasm.

There’s a darker un­der­tone in this film be­yond sim­ple ghost-trap­ping. The source of all evil isn’t an un­dead spirit with a cen­turies-long vendetta. It’s a liv­ing, breath­ing bot­tomd­weller, alien­ated from so­ci­ety by bit­ter­ness, con­vinced of his ge­nius. Frankly, the heavy-handed mis­treat­ment of males in this movie might be a bit too much… if it wasn’t so god­damned sat­is­fy­ing to watch. “Ghost­busters” is a huge block­buster with a dream-team cast, big-bud­get ex­plo­sions, and he­roes we can all iden­tify with—who ain’t afraid of no base­ment­d­welling ghosts. Jes­sica Wei

(USA) Com­edy/Fan­tasy/Sci-Fi. Di­rected by Paul Feig. Star­ring Melissa McCarthy, Kris­ten Wiig, Les­lie Jones,

Kate McKin­non. Cat­e­gory IIA. 116 min­utes. Opened Jul 21.

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