Welcome one and all! While I know you’re all hanging out for my Suicide Squad review, which I have promised to withhold until after opening weekend to ensure it’s as spoiler free as possible, I give you my first ever double review; Ghostbusters and Star Trek Beyond *hold for applause*.
Ghostbusters is one of those supposedly sacred nerd properties that much like the original Star Wars trilogy and the original series of Star Trek is supposedly “untouchable” and despite this the rebooted Star Trek universe and The Force Awakens are awesome, so suck it. Paul Feig is a pretty great comedy director and his smash hit Bridesmaids is arguably the best recent comedy that didn’t involve Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, Shaun of the Dead). So let’s address the elephant in the room; Ghostbusters currently has a hugely negative rating on its Youtube trailer, the cast and crew, along with numerous critics and industry pundits pointed to the ridiculous amount of downvotes the trailer received as proof of sexism. I was a little torn during the birth of this controversy; on the one hand I did personally think it was a shitty trailer that seemed really cringe inducing and awkward. On the other hand I’d have to be blind to believe that the organised movements on reddit, 4chan, 8chan, etc. that literally had “let’s go downvote Ghostbusters because those damn feminists need to be told who’s boss” as the thread opener weren’t done by angst-ridden, fedora hounds who just got done reading Rand and Rothbard. For the record there is such a thing as a bad trailer, bad trailers do not often indicate bad movies and vice-versa (See: the trailer for Rollerball 2001 vs the actual movie that sucked 1.45 hours of my life away).
So how was the reboot of Ghostbusters? Good. Good is pretty much the best way to describe it; if you want an enjoyable comedy film that provides a decent amount of laughs and a coherent story, go and watch Ghostbusters. Is it as funny as the original with Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd? No, probably not, although if you’ve never seen the original it very well may be. People forget that Ghostbusters 2 was terrible, this film much better. Melissa McCarthy is great, Kristen Wiig, Chris Hemsworth is great, Leslie Graham is great and Kate McKinnon is great. The actors perform adequately and Hemsworth has potentially opened up an entire new doorway of his career into comedy which is something very few people probably expected from Thor. The general story of the film is fairly solid; while it pays homage to the source material this isn’t a carbon copy and actually has a fairly different plot to the original film.
All in all Ghostbusters is a good comedy film, if you aren’t interested in seeing it; don’t. If, like me, you were turned off by the trailer I would argue that you give it a go. It’s substantially better than the trailer would’ve made out, in particular the subplot regarding the blatant sexual harassment of Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin, by Melissa McCarthy throughout the film is hilarious, not only because it flips a traditional trope of awkward inappropriate behaviour by a boss towards an employee (See: Tony Stark to Natasha Romanov in Iron Man 2), but also addresses the actual issue at hand; the other Ghostbusters frequently criticise McCarthy’s character for engaging in sexual harassment, so for those previously mentioned Fedora hounds who were chomping at the bit to scream “It’s okay for women to objectify men but not the other way around”, the movie says “sexual harassment is wrong on both sides”.
Star Trek Beyond:
In case you haven’t figured out the theme of this article it’s “Movies with bad trailers that turned out to be damn good movies!”. So yeah Star Trek Beyond is the third instalment in the rebooted Star Trek series; launched by J. J. Abrams back in 2009, the series has been a bit and miss, which oddly sums up Star Trek films in general (See: Star Trek the Motion Picture; MISS! Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; HIT!, Star Trek: First Contact; HIT!, Star Trek: Nemesis; ABANDON SHIP!). The 2009 Star Trek was cool, it introduced a number of brilliant young actors, captured some of the greatness of the original Trek and modernised Star Trek into a slightly more action oriented series. The 2013 sequel; Star Trek Into Darkness was a bit more of a miss; the film was essentially a remake of Wrath of Khan and that film actually is sort of untouchable. Why did Into Darkness struggle? Well, the main issue is the Kirk/Khan conflict; in the original version Khan was an old enemy of Captain Kirk first featured in the TV show and years later the film. This version is introduced in the film and as such his backstory had to be rewritten making his sheer hatred for Kirk seem kinda tacked on. Also the original ended with an awesome space battle that showed Kirk use his wit to defeat Khan, the remake just had Mr Spock beat Khan over the head with a brick for a few minutes until he was unconscious.
Anyway; Beyond fixes all of these problems! Firstly, it’s an entirely original story that focuses much more on typical Trek fare; the crew of the Enterprise stuck in a shitty situation and working together to solve a problem. The film has significantly less Star Wars style action compared to its immediate predecessor; but honestly that isn’t a bad thing. The film still has some cool action sequences, new addition Jayla is a creative and unique character and her interactions with Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg) are quite funny in a sort of brother/sister way. Zoe Saldana had an increased presence throughout the film, further developing her characters role as the Enterprise’s linguistics officer. The dynamic between Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto (Dr. McCoy and Spock) is fantastic and has been a highlight of all three films, but gets a full realisation this time around. Chris Pine is still excellent as Captain James Tiberius Kirk, which is something he often gets a mixed reception about. Personally, Pine’s Kirk is more or less identical to William Shatner’s and seeing as I like Shatner’s I’m not about to throw Pine under the bus.
Justin Lin has done a fantastic job as director and combined with Simon Pegg’s screenplay the film flows incredibly well. Pegg, in my view, is one of the most interesting writers around at the moment, his Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy is masterful and his writing breathes in new life to the Trek characters that had become somewhat sterile under Abrams direction. Also worth noting; the fucking lens flare effect is gone, while used somewhat decently in the first film, Abrams went completely overboard with lens flares in the second instalment, something that got so out of hand his own wife told him that he needed to stop or else he’d ruin The Force Awakens with them. Lin’s quite good at action direction; his resume consists mostly of the Fast and Furious movies and while those films suck ass on the whole (teehee), the action sequences featured in the instalments from number four onwards are quite impressive (See: The bank heist in Fast Five). As it stands Star Trek Beyond is a very good sci-fi/action film, the characters are great, the acting is on point and the general pacing and plot are well conceived and enjoyable, certainly the best of the rebooted Trek films and vastly better than the awkward tail end of the Patrick Stewart films. Go and see this movie!
If you liked this new format of double feature reviews, let me know! I’m interested in experimenting with new formulas to see if there’s a more interesting way to bring these stories to you. For those wondering; Suicide Squad will be uploaded sometime this weekend.