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Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (3D Blu-ray Review)

21 Oct, 2016 By: John Latchem

Sony Pictures
Box office $128.15 million
$30.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 3D/4K Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for supernatural action and some crude humor
Stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Cecily Strong, Andy Garcia, Neil Casey, Charles Dance, Michael K. Williams, Matt Walsh, Ed Begley Jr., Zach Woods.

The prospect of another “Ghostbusters” movie likely presented the filmmakers with a no-win scenario. Another lackluster sequel after so many years would leave fans wishing they hadn’t even bothered, while a remake presented its own challenges.

After several failed attempts to get a third film off the ground, the studio finally handed the reigns of the franchise over to director Paul Feig for a reboot to showcase a cast of female comedians in the lead roles, a role reversal from the 1984 original. The idea wasn’t exactly embraced by fans, who made the film’s trailer one of the most unpopular videos on YouTube. On the other hand, Feig assembled a talented cast and has a good track record when it comes to female-centric comedies.

The end result, while it has its moments, is bound to leave even the most open-minded viewers a bit disappointed.

On the plus side, the film is a visual delight, with Feig’s effects teams in fine form depicting all the wacky ghosts terrorizing New York. The 3D is masterful, especially considering the movie was post-converted. Every scene pops with the extra dimension, and the filmmakers even went the extra step to extend the visuals (flying ghosts, slime streams and proton beams) beyond the black bars of the letterbox frame to make the illusion even more effective (the visuals also push into the letterbox in the 2D version, which is a bit weirder to process). The film’s color palette is sensational and lends itself to a truly enjoyable 3D experience that begins with the Blu-ray menus.

Unfortunately, the film’s biggest problem is that it can’t decide if it wants to be an homage to the original or its own thing. The core idea of science vs. the supernatural remains intact, with a few clever twists on some plot elements from the original, such as the bad guy using similar technologies to assemble the ghosts. But while the film manages to insert some winking remarks to the heated reception to its own production history, the script has an annoying tendency to try to explain all the technobabble as the characters go through the motions of creating all the devices required by the plot.

The comedy isn’t as focused as one might hope (the first cut, according to Feig in one of two commentaries on the Blu-ray, was more than three hours), and the film lacks any memorable dialogue.

Cameos from the original cast are welcome, but mostly misfire because they only serve to stir up our fondness for a much better movie. Bill Murray’s extended appearance is especially jarring since it seems ready to evolve into what could be a massive meta gag about the nature of the remake, but instead loses energy and dissipates into another plot device that makes little sense. His brief turn in Zombieland is a much better example of using the audience’s knowledge of his previous roles to great story effect.

If you can get the original cast to appear anyway, it probably would have made more sense to have made this a continuation of the earlier films, with the new characters related to the old ones (heck, the baby from Ghostbusters II would be in his late 20s and could have been one of the updated characters). I get that there’s a certain level of creative pride that goes into wanting to make this a fresh re-telling of the story, but all it ends up doing is calling attention to how similar it is to the original. At least with a semi-sequel, such comparisons would serve a legitimate story point without leaving fans feeling the original continuity was completely discarded. Plus, the motif of a science-based bad guy might have been better served by a continuation.

Feig is featured on both of the Blu-ray’s commentary tracks. In one he’s joined by co-writer Katie Dippold for a discussion that is more focused on story, performances and the production in general. In the other he’s joined by various department heads for a more technical recounting of the filmmaking process.

The extended cut adds a whopping 17 more minutes, including two more dance sequences (in addition to two that were already there), plus more character moments and some lengthy sequences of characters throwing jokes off each other. There’s also a deleted subplot involving a love interest for Kristen Wiig’s character. The extended cut is a nice option for the film’s fans, but my recommendation would be to stick with the more visually appealing 3D experience when possible.

Fans looking for even more footage will be well-served by the Blu-ray. In addition to nearly 10 minutes of deleted scenes, there are another 21 minutes of extended and alternate scenes, plus 34 minutes of improvisational outtakes as well as two gag reels totaling 15 minutes.

The behind-the-scenes featurettes are more cookie cutter: eight minutes for “Meet the Team,” 14 minutes for “The Ghosts of Ghostbusters,” 15 minutes for “Visual Effects: 30 Years Later,” nearly eight minutes for “Chris Hemsworth Is ‘Kevin,’” and a five-minute piece called “Slime Time,” which reveals how the filmmakers created the slime effects and also includes a recipe for at-home slime, just in time for Halloween.

About the Author: John Latchem

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