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Ghostbusters: All-Female, All-Action Reboot
As far as remakes are concerned, Paul Feig's reboot of the 1984 supernatural comedy classic, Ghostbusters, is one of the better ones out there. Arriving twenty-seven years after the release of the first sequel, the Bridesmaids director has been given the honours of reintroducing the story to the modern audiences of today. The result? An entertaining and an admittedly funny reboot which, although nowhere near as spunky as the original, still has its own charms to lean back on.
The story begins with Dr. Erin Gilbert (Wiig); a respected physics professor who is only days away from receiving tenure at the Colombia University. However, she is soon pulled back into her previous life as a paranormal investigator when her old friend Aby Yates (McCarthy), who has decided to re-publish the book about ghosts they wrote together many years ago without her permission, returns to her life.
Worried what the release of the book might do to her academic career, Erin decides to confront Abby. However, she soon finds herself joining her old friend - and Abby's new research partner, Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon) - on a paranormal investigation at a reportedly haunted-house, during which they experience their first ghost-sighting.
Unfortunately, their encounter is labelled as a publicity stunt, forcing the three ladies - who soon welcome MTA employee, Patty Tolan (Jones) into their team - to create a plan of capturing ghosts as proof they exist. Meanwhile, creepy hotel janitor, Rowan (Casey) has been busy planting devices around NYC with the intention of opening the portal between the living and the dead.
Those who were not exactly on board with the idea of the all-female remake might not be completely taken in by Paul Feig's latest attempt of bringing a modern twist to the beloved ghost-chasing franchise. However, the story's amusing and refreshing stance, as well as its energetic vibe and slick special effects, are, overall, strong – the sum of its parts are, at least.
Stepping in for an all-male lead cast are four undeniably funny female comedians who show the willingness and the confidence in carrying the movie. Offering plenty of laughs and ghost-ass-kicking skills, McCarthy - delivering a pleasantly reserved performance - and Wiig are the strongest of the bunch with Jones and McKinnon falling as a close second. Unfortunately though, pointless cameos from the original cast never really resonate and actually distract and Casey's villain is not as, let's say, villainous as the story demanded him to be. In addition, the running gag on Hemsworth's version of a dumb-blonde secretary is funny but, wears out thin pretty early on.
Nevertheless, Ghostbusters still manages to deliver. Embracing the spirit of the original whilst playing with its own modern bearings, the story serves to be a solid and thoroughly enjoyable take Ivan Reitman's supernatural classic that even most of its hardcore haters might find hard not to love.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.
Returning to the world of wizards and all things magic, J.K Rowling’s screenwriting debut in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has produced mixed results. Following the massive and the enduring success of the Harry Potter film franchise, the story is both magical and visually arresting. However, although definitely entertaining, the fun factor seems to have been squeezed out of the proceedings.
The plot follows ‘magizoologist’, Newt (Redmayne), who travels the world in search of magical animals in order to learn more about their powers. During his travels to New York City in 1926, Newt ends up losing his magical suitcase – a portable zoo of sorts which accidentally finds itself in the hands of an aspiring baker, Jacob Kowalski (Fogler) – setting off a chain of chaos.
The incident soon attracts the attention of Tina Goldstein (Waterston); a federal agent working for the Magical Congress of the United States of America who, after some persuading, reluctantly joins our hero on his quest along with her mind-reading sister, Queenie (Sudol).
Working from an original screenplay penned by J.K Rowling herself and directed by David Yates – filmmaker who helmed previous Harry Potter films – it would be easy to assume Fantastic Beasts to be nothing more than a blatant cash-grab which hopes to profit from long-time Harry Potter fans. However, although not as developed or as absorbing as one might have hoped, Fantastic Beasts proves to be a worthy addition to the fantasy arena which delivers an enchanting premise of eccentricity and magic.
Set seventy years before a boy named Harry Potter first walked the halls of Hogwarths, the film benefits from a degree of creative freedom to expand on its premise, introducing new stories, characters and an array of magical beasts along the way. However, there seems to be too much going on and the film struggles to keep up with the sheer amount of characters and sub-plots, failing to offer any substantial back stories or weight support them. The performances are relatively likable, with Redmayne embracing Newt’s love for magic with an gawky energy, though the rest of the cast – including Collin Farrell and Jon Voight - fail to make a similar impact.
Fantastic Beasts is an entertaining piece of cinema which will more than likely please die-hard fans that have been waiting to return to the world of wizards and magic. However, it’s not exactly what you might call an exciting movie or even a fully developed one; while it has sown the seeds for the films to come, as a standalone piece, it fails to really wow.