There are going to be a lot of preconceived notions going into the new Ghostbusters movie. There are people who think any remake is going to be a bad idea. There are people who hold the first movie in such high esteem, that they won't even think about seeing a new version no matter who is in it. There are the chuckleheads who think an all female cast Ghostbusters is ridiculous. There are the people who don't like Melissa McCarthy.
As for me, I like the first movie. I watch it whenever it's on TV. I have the DVD and throw it in every once in a while. But it's not the be all, end all. I'm sometimes excited when a movie I love is remade. Peter Jackson remaking King Kong? I'm in. The remakes of Robocop and Total Recall? I saw 'em. (meh.) So when this one was announced, it never really bothered me.
My preconceived notions stem from the fact that I'm a fan of Kristen Wiig. I think she's a smart and clever actress, and I'll watch a Ghostbusters movie that has her in a leading role. I'm also a fan of the woman-centric narrative (Nancy Drew will always be better than the Hardy Boys). And I've enjoyed just about everything director Paul Feig has done.
And the movie is good. Not great. Not awful. Just good.
I think I had a little trouble during the first third of the film, because a couple weeks ago, my buddy John wanted me to match up the characters from the new movie to the old one (who was Ray, Egon, etc), and as I watched the movie, I realized there were no real analogs to the original characters. For better or worse (and in my opinion, better), this is a completely new take on the idea of what it means to be a Ghostbuster. It's not a remake. It's a new film, with new characters based on the same concept. Obviously there are going to be some callbacks to the previous film (stay all the way to the end past the credits), but this movie is its own creature.
Plot - Well, the plot is similar to the original in the setting up of the concept. Where it differs is in why the ghosts are active. There's an outside force actively making things happen. And since this is the era of easy to make computer effects, there's a mother of a blowout at the end.
Say what you will about the actresses in the film, but they run the gamut of emotions and energy. We're not talking too deep or anything, but the camaraderie that the women share is the glue of the film.
I realize Melissa McCarthy might not be everyone's cup of tea, but she very nicely underplays her role as team leader Abby. Wiig is solid throughout, although giving her character a bit more strength would have gone a long way. Leslie Jones' Patty is quite good at giving us the every(wo)man point of view. And then there's Kate McKinnon's Julian. She makes the weapons, she's got a wonderfully twisted worldview, and I wanted to like her character so, so much more than I actually did. It's not bad. It just seems a little... too twee. And I'm not sure where the fault lies. I think it's a combo between the script and interpretation.
Honestly, I was hoping that the movie would be a little funnier. When it gets the laughs right, it gets them right (Slimer is a real treat). But there's a lot of "just okay" and I don't know if that'll be enough. But the action sequences are pretty spot on. The prelude to the final battle is a rousing scene with some solid character bits.
So, a bit of a mixed bag for me. I might actually enjoy it more once I can focus on these ladies as their own characters. But the cameos - pretty great.
Somewhere in the **1/2 to *** range