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Review: ‘Ghostbusters’ is All Female, All Nostalgic and All Cliché

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Ghostbusters Review MovieSpoon.com

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he first Ghostbusters movie in nearly three decades arrived with much nostalgia to bank on. Leading up to the premiere of the movie, my social media feed was all abuzz of my peers gushing over the return of the Ecto Cooler promotional drink and slime-colored Twinkies. These attempts at generating hype for the grand return of Ghostbusters were beginning to wear me down with the way fans went bonkers for green sugary treats.

By the end credits of this new movie, I felt as though I had eaten an entire box of Twinkies and chugged a gallon of Ecto Cooler. It was an experience that left me nauseous, weary and regretful, asking myself why I ever thought this would be a good idea. Those slime-colored glasses have to come off.

Ghostbusters Review MovieSpoon.com

The gang of gals looking tough.

The new Ghostbusters banks hard off its elements of nostalgia and marquee value. The director, Paul Feig, is one of the strongest comedic forces of the decade with his all-female casts that deliver as successes, both critically and financially. He assembles his own female Ghostbuster team composed of comedy familiars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones.

The key to what made the first Ghostbusters movie a success was the chemistry of the actors in how they played off one another. The problem with Feig’s female Ghostbusters is that they are lacking comradery. Each one of them feels as though they’re struggling to bust out as many one-liners as they can, refusing to let each other step over or play off of their lines.

In trying so hard to be funny, their characters come off as underdeveloped joke vehicles. Kristen Wiig plays Erin Gilbert, a meek and awkward professor struggling for tenure, but only as timidly as Wiig can play her. Kate McKinnon does her best to steal the show as the eccentric scientist/weapons expert Jillian Holtzman, but she’s not given much to work with being entirely composed of random quirks. Leslie Jones fulfills the familiar everyman (everywoman?) role as MTA worker Patty Tolan, but she is so loud and sassy in her fight to be relevant that she may as well just be another wacky scientist.

Ghostbusters Review MovieSpoon.com

They might as well be aiming those at each other.

As for Melissa McCarthy, arguably the most notable of the primary cast, she isn’t given much of a character at all as Abby Yates. She has a history with Erin in that they both wrote a book on the paranormal, but it’s mostly just a generic McCarthy character, narrowly avoiding the fat jokes of her non-Feig roles. Chris Hemsworth could have been the most pleasant surprise as the inept idiot secretary, but he’s written to be so stupid that he may as well be mentally retarded. I’m surprised they even gave him lines considering he’s mostly only present as beefcake eye-candy for the blushing Wiig to wrap her hands around.

The story is razor thin. Granted, story was never a strong suit of Ghostbusters, merely acting as a platform for the comedic team. But this Ghostbusters refuses to do any of the grunt work in establishing its characters, its antagonist or its paranormal lore. The evil demon Rowan (Neil Casey) is committed to unleashing ghosts on New York City. He’s played so generically to the point where all he needs is a mustache to twirl as he shakes his fist at those darn Ghostbusters.

Not much is known or revealed about this character’s motivations outside of him apparently being bullied and seeking revenge on humanity, a backstory only whispered in passing. Remember all the history and scientific studies the Ghostbusters did to stop the evil forces of Zuul or Vigo? The most you can expect from this group of heroes is drawing a correlation of events on a map and connecting the dots. They don’t have time to know their enemy as they’re too busy testing ghost-zapping shotguns and grenades.

 

There’s an awful lot of technobabble thrown into the script, shot out at rapid speed to paint these women as smart and innovative. But when the third act arrives for the giant CGI show of invading ghosts, the script has given up explaining any of this and throws any ghost design it wants at the screen. Big-legged giant ghosts? Sure, we don’t need to explain why that’s here. Floating balloon mascot ghosts? Who cares if it doesn’t make any sense – throw it in. A city-destroying bedsheet-ghost? Don’t bother explaining why it had to be so large – we need something massive enough for the Ghostbusters to shoot at.

Click to the next page to hear about Bill Murray’s cameo:

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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Review: “Captain Marvel” is a Solidly Sensational Sci-Fi Adventure

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Captain Marvel joins the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a much different way. She slides into the MCU via a twisty sci-fi adventure of the 1990s, before the Avengers were formed. And though the film does serve as a strong bridge picture that answers a few more questions about the Marvel universe, the film quickly becomes its own thing and gives its hero a real identity as the powerful addition to the superhero ensemble.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a woman not sure if she’s a human pilot of Earth or a soldier of the Kree empire’s Starforce. There’s little time to explore these conflicting visions she’s having when there’s special energy powers to control and a war being waged against the shape-shifting Skrull alien creatures. A detour to 1990s Earth gives her a bit of time to find out more while also hunting down some more Skrulls, leading to some interesting scenarios when combatting aliens that could look like old ladies.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Carol’s landing on Earth leads to treading down familiar Marvel timeline territory as well as evoking plenty of dated 1990s bits. What started drawing me into the picture was how the film holds itself back from the obvious. The 1990s setting is used for some gags of video stores and Windows 95, sure, but never goes the extra mile of becoming an aggravating reference fest, keeping a certain vibe the way Guardians of the Galaxy embraced the 1970s and 1980s. And just like that film, there’s a nostalgic soundtrack to boot, with choice tracks for just the right cue.

Samuel L. Jackson pops up in the film as a younger Nick Fury with his two eyes still intact. He teams up with Carol in her intergalactic spy adventure and thankfully never goes to the booming lengths he was known for that decade. And the filmmakers could have easily made this younger Fury go full Die Hard 3 or Pulp Fiction but he never does, always keeping that cool persona he has been known for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

But the one aspect that is never shunned and built up grandly is the aspect of female empowerment. Danvers is established as a woman who doesn’t have a clear identity or mindful nature of galactic politics and has to build herself up when she realizes she may be a very powerful pawn in a big game of intergalactic chess. Her memories are that of always being told to back off from non-traditional activities for girls and, sure enough, she rises up to become the smirking and energy-shooting hero when the final piece of her character puzzle is pieced together. It’s just unfortunate that the film spends so much time doing the building amid a twisty sci-fi spy story that Brie never gets a moment to shine as brightly as she could, despite a very enthusiastic third-act closer.

If we’re being blunt, no, Captain Marvel doesn’t quite have the same gravity to be a cultural milestone of a comic book movie. Where others have pointed to Black Panther as not the first the most insightful and cultural of black-led superhero movies, I doubt many will look towards Captain Marvel as the grandest of female-led comic book movies, making its motives known with the power and subtlety of a supernova. But, in terms of what the film is aiming towards, it doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that’s perhaps the point. I just wish that Captain Marvel’s astounding powers to destroy starships and aliens had a much bigger punch for a picture that wants to obliterate the glass ceiling and merely cuts a narrow hole within the MCU. It’s a nice hole, mind you, and still weaves a capable and compelling sci-fi adventure with a surprisingly more engaging finale than most Marvel solos.

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