It’s no secret that Hollywood has gotten cagey with its money of late. Piracy is the problem that just won’t die and online content providers (namely Netflix) have been taking a large slice of the collective film pie. Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in less of the innovative risk-taking that resulted in the original genre classics, such as Star Wars, Terminator and Spider-Man. Instead, the studios are churning out sequels, reboots and prequels to Star Wars, Terminator and Spider-Man. So let’s get something straight: they were always going to cash in on Ghostbusters. Everyone loves Ghostbusters! So, studio logic goes, let’s give the people more of what they love! Don’t forget Sony’s two main tentpoles are currently the uneven Amazing Spider-Man (now entering the Marvel universe) and *shudder* The Smurfs, so of course they’ve been raiding their archives in search of a franchise to reanimate.
Let’s get past the bit where we all groan about how the original was so great and the new instalment is doomed to be a disappointment. Let’s assume something crazy. Let’s assume it might not be bad.
A reboot like this can only be successful if it brings something to the table that its predecessor didn’t. Though darker tonally, the revived Planet of the Apes and Batman franchises are good examples of this; they both nodded to their roots whilst managing to be innovative and interesting, and that’s why they worked. Had Sony managed to plough on with its initial plan of reuniting the original cast, Ghostbusters 3 might have just been an inferior rehash of the original. Instead they’re attempting to start off fresh by rooting a load of new characters in the Ghostbusters universe, which is certainly a good start.
Speaking of which, the cast is looking good. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon will all be donning jumpsuits in 2016. Sticking with Ghostbusters tradition, our leads are Saturday Night Live alumni (all four, if you count McCarthy’s hosting gigs). And while Wiig and McCarthy have already broken into the mainstream with Feig’s Bridesmaids, anyone keeping up with SNL will tell you that Jones and McKinnon are breakouts. The team is all-female, which might go some way to make up for the raw deal women got in the original (did anyone else feel uncomfortable when Sigourney Weaver was possessed by that weird sex demon?).
And if you don’t trust Sony, trust the director. Paul Feig’s CV is short but impressive. He made his small screen debut as a creator of the sadly short-lived Freaks and Geeks, and went on to direct one of the great Mad Men episodes, ‘Shoot’, as well as a number of episodes of The Office and Arrested Development. That was all before Bridesmaids even came along. This is a guy with remarkably few critical duds under his belt. If I had to entrust anyone with this beloved 80s comedy, it would be him.
So yes, the Ghostbusters reboot is the result of a broken system that prizes reliability over originality. The critics began sharpening their knives as soon as it was announced. But if you give the talented team behind it a chance, it might just surprise you. And let’s not forget, no reboot can ever stop the original from existing. If it’s crap, we can just pretend it didn’t happen and carry on as we always did. It worked with Indiana Jones.