The first trailer for the all female Ghostbuster reboot recently hit the internet, and judging by the skewed dislikes to likes ratio of the video on YouTube, it probably would have been less controversial if Sony had uploaded a thirty-minute montage of cute animals being hit by shovels.
We’ve seen a grand total of two minutes of the movie, but already there are some intense doubts about whether this reboot can even show a spark of the original’s greatness. Whatever side of the fence you’re sitting on, here are ten things the new Ghostbusters reboot needs to realize if it wants to win over both the critics and the fans.
Here are 10 Things the Ghostbusters Reboot Needs To Realize To Be Successful.
10 The Original Was Far More than Comedy
The original Ghostbusters might have been a comedy, but it had a whole lot more going on than just slapstick and zinging one-liners. Part of what made it a classic was the unprecedented paradox: a comedy/sci-fi/action/supernatural thriller with actual decent special effects that flipped the genre on its head, and all set to one of the catchiest pieces of theme music in cinematic history. Sure, the movie was as funny as it needed to be, but it used its premise to the full.
The reboot trailer ruffled a lot of feathers with its focus on the slapstick side of things, with a dash of witty dialogue making it seem like that’s all it has to offer. However, it’s important to remember that the studio doesn’t make the trailers; it’s an out-of-house job, so whoever made it obviously thought that what was we wanted to see; that, and slapstick makes for an easy trailer.
It’s not a great trailer, basically. So with that in mind, whatever the reboot has in store, it’ll need to show us that it understands the blend of comedy and other elements that made the original Ghostbusters stand out.
9 It Needs to Establish the Hard Reboot
This new film has been confirmed as a reboot from the start, but the title card at the beginning of the trailer certainly confused a lot of people. Is this set in the same universe? The original came out in 1984, so it has been roughly thirty years since the citizens of New York had their streets filled with marshmallow goo. Throw in the fact that nothing in the trailer explicitly confirms or denies the continuity, and no one seems to know if we should be expecting an in-character Bill Murray cameo.
Shards of information floating around have confirmed that this is a hard reboot with no previous continuity, but unless you’re the type to go digging on IMDB pages, that hasn’t been made clear. Thus, Sony needs to be transparent about its intentions to create a completely new Ghostbusters team, set in their own universe and the first of their kind. Give the amount of flak the project is getting, they really don’t need to sew any more confusion.
8 We Need Call-Backs (but good ones)
With that said, even the hardest of hard reboots needs to go out of its way to give us some call-backs… provided they aren’t cheap or gratuitous. We’ve already seen that the Ghostbusters will be wearing the iconic suits, carrying proton packs and operating out of an abandoned fire station, but all of these elements are more or less par for course.
The real call-backs could be anything, from a shot of a Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man product (likely) to a confused elderly citizen with a tiny dog named Zuul (less so), but they have to keep the crucial balance of not intruding while making us fondly remember the older version; something The Force Awakens attempted, with varying results depending on your opinion. We’ve already seen the team on an early case, taking on a ghost in what appears to be a museum. Given that it’s intended as a call-back to the original movie, yet it doesn’t seem to be having a massive effect on the plot, this could be a good start.
Alternatively, the multiple cameo appearances from major players could help, if they’re played right, given that actors such as Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd (confirmed) helped to make the franchise great in the first place.
7 The Characters Need to be Original
At this point, one of the main similarities between the original and reboot seems to be that their teams are mirror images: you have the flippant leader, the "smart" one, the playful tech genius and the layman. That’s fine up to a point, as its status as a reboot means that it can take those character archetypes and play with them in new ways. Then you hit the snag of switching the genders of the entire cast. That puts an entirely new spin on the concept and makes it that much less okay to be just recreating the originals, since they’re now in completely new bodies.
Regardless of how you feel about the switch, if the writers wanted to just take the original four Ghostbusters and stick them in a new movie, they’ve shot themselves in the foot by making such a dramatic change. People are less likely to accept the new cast as homages and more likely to see them as underdeveloped imitations; so they need to be more than just their main character traits. Hey, they might not even conform to them all that much at all; maybe Melissa McCarthy’s character is actually a straight-laced leader with the odd bit of clumsiness. Perhaps Kristen Wiig’s character is a professor and a snarky, socially competent party animal. Probably not. But we need to see at least something from the reboot that pus a new spin on old material. And speaking of which…
6 ... And So Does the Plot
This one might not be too much to worry about, if the information we have right now is anything to go by. We’ve got the Ghostbusters suiting up and adding a fourth member to take their war on the paranormal to the streets, proton packs and all; exactly what you’d expect from a reboot, yet it looks like we’ll be diverging from the original movie’s plot, as Kristen Wiig’s character tells us that “someone is creating a device that amplifies paranormal activity.” This definitely didn’t happen in the original Ghostbusters; they were too busy taking on an interdimensional demon and a world-destroying monster made out of marshmallow.
Things could still backfire if they veer too close to the original’s plot, and particularly if certain iconic plot points are ripped out for convenience’s sake (e.g. crossing the streams). We’ve been given no real evidence for that happening thus far, but it’s something the reboot (and every reboot) needs to keep in mind as it treads the dangerous waters of trying to give audiences something familiar AND brand new.
5 It Needs to Justify Its Own Existence
If you were to distill every comment on the trailer thus far, carefully going through each one and sorting them into neat categories… you’d probably end up as a broken wreck of a person with an intense loathing of humanity. But what you’d ALSO realize is that there’s a huge amount of dissent surrounding the fact that this reboot exists at all. That’s more or less the constant uphill struggle faced by every reboot, as fans of the original rise up as one and declare that they’d like their memories of a thing to remain intact.
Would it have made a difference if this had been branded as a sequel? Probably not a lot. But the fact still remains that the Ghostbusters reboot not only has to entertain, but justify its own existence. Simply slinging the old formula, characters and theme in the microwave and serving it up to today’s audience, all dried out and rubbery, isn’t going to hack it. The complaints of ruined childhoods will echo in the wake of this film for years afterwards if that’s all it manages to do (though if Ghostbusters was literally the greatest thing about your childhood, and watching a bad movie with the same name ruins it entirely… we're sorry about your childhood?).
The reboot therefore needs to make it clear why we’re getting a new Ghostbusters film, what it has to add to the table and why it should be a classic in the same vein as its predecessor. It’s a lot to live up to, but no one should be involved in the project if they didn’t think they could make it happen.
4 It Needs to Know What Made the Original Great
Once again, the original Ghostbusters thrived on more than just its comedy. Along with the aforementioned unique blend of genres, it didn’t gain its status as a cinematic icon just by being an entertaining, well-acted romp. It was rare at the time to cross the genres of paranormal thriller and sci-fi (almost like...crossing streams. With unknown results. If you get my drift).
A film with a ghost in the basement would have said ghost being dealt with either by a vaguely religious person in black clothes waving around a crucifix, or by having all the characters sit around a table with a kooky medium and dramatic candle lighting. Paranormal and comedy had been mixed, but rarely was a healthy dose of sci-fi tossed in. That the science actually managed to overcome the paranormal was something no one had seen before, and being presented with all the wit and charm of Bill Murray helped the movie to soar to its current heights of beloved oddball.
All this and probably more is what the reboot needs to realize, and what it hopefully already has: that it’s not just copying a formula, but recreating a phenomenon. And yeah, that’s incredibly difficult to do and we’re not expecting this reboot to overturn Hollywood’s every trope, because that would be obscene. But it’ll still do much better if it aims for that sweet spot of comedy plus innovation, which might have been part of the thought process behind gender-swapping the whole cast.
And how’s that going for them? Now that you mention it...
3 We Need a Reason for the Female Cast
This will be brief, because discussing the topic is akin to walking barefoot through a field of glass shards, rusty nails and piece of discarded Lego.
The fact that the reboot decided to go with all females isn’t a bad thing. No one cared that there were no women in the original’s line-up, and with a new continuity comes a new cast. It happened, it’s happening right now and it can’t be changed, but that hasn’t stopped the internet from tearing itself apart with arguments over whether it’s "feminist propaganda," or "misogynist" to criticize the casting.
We’re definitely not answering those questions here. But an important question to ask is…why? Simply and politely, why did they make this decision? That’s what the reboot needs to show us, without telling us straight up. There needs to be a reason, otherwise what a lot of angry people have been saying is right. So if there IS a purpose behind switching around the cast, then we need to see that tactfully and respectfully played out once the movie finally rolls around. Please. Thank you. Topic done.
2 Maybe Ease Up on the Stereotypes
Oh look, we’re still in that glass/nail/Lego field, though the trailer is mostly to blame for the most recent complaints. The original Ghostbusters added Winston Zeddemore to the team because (narratively) they needed an everyman. Supplementary material reveals that Winston used to be in the Marines and had studied for a doctorate, just not in the realm of paranormal science. Meanwhile, the movies portray him as unscientific, but with a level head, someone who can have the technobabble explained to them in a way that makes it seem like the scientists are the ones going overboard and NOT in a way that made him seem stupid. Winston was the layman, and that made him just like us.
Meanwhile, the reboot trailer has given us Leslie Jones' Patty Tolan, this version’s fourth member and seemingly the embodiment of every "sassy black woman: stereotype that can be squeezed into thirty seconds of screen-time. Further complicating matters is how she’s being portrayed as uneducated and prone to taking things way over the top, emotionally and physically.
And once again, this could easily be the trailer’s fault for picking out these particular moments and lines. Indeed, much of Jones's (very funny) comedy on Saturday Night Live involves subverting those very stereotypes. Hopefully, the movie rolls around and we see Patty as she should be, the everywoman with a sensible head on her shoulders, capable of reigning in her teammates when they collapse into techno-language.
1 Get a Better Trailer
We’ve talked about the trailer a lot, mostly because it’s where a lot of the controversy is flowing from. Trailers can do that. So what we really need right now is one that’s put together a bit better.
Assuming that the film has much more to give than slapstick and attempts at wit, we’ll need to see a trailer that shows us what we’re actually going to watch. And if there isn’t enough material to give us anything new?
Well, that’d be disappointing. But let’s wait for more than two minutes of poorly sewn-together footage before we make snap judgements. Remember, 2011's Green Lantern looked just great in the trailers. And then we actually saw the movie.
What else do you think the Ghostbusters reboot needs to succeed? Let us know in the comments...