Let’s start this thing by not mincing words: this past Thursday, the official trailer for the new Ghostbusters was released; if you didn’t like it, then you’re wrong. Period. Exclamation point.
I’m going to be completely honest with you when I say that I was originally on the side of the non-believers, the purists, the “don’t take away our Ghostbusters” proclaimers. At that time in my life, I felt as though too many things from my childhood, things that guided and molded me into the person writing this-here blog post today, were being taken and reshaped into something to appease and appeal to a “newer” audience. The “ain’t broke, don’t fix” mindset came to the fore; if you want to introduce a new audience to an already-popular franchise, what sense does it make, reinventing the franchise in order to achieve that?
As it turns out: it makes a whole helluva-lotta sense!
We’ll look at another franchise, near and dear to my childhood heart, that has had its fair share of reinventing and having said reinvention brought to life, once again, on the big screen: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Comic book origins aside, I had grown up with the cartoon series and graduated to the live-action movies; mind you, Turtles in Time didn’t hold up as well as the first two for me, so I reverted back to the animated stuff, faith restored in the movie versions when the computer-animated TMNT was released. When Nickelodeon decided to reboot the animated series, I was fine with it – especially after seeing a few episodes with my nephew, and seeing how much of an homage it was to the classic cartoon series.
But hearing that Michael Bay was going to be releasing a series of live-action Turtles movies? Oh, fuck no! We can’t be having any of that! Not only was it a poor choice to have Bay, of all people, involved in the project – what with the rumors going around that he was going to make said “heroes in a half-shell” of alien origin and completely destroy the lore – but ultimately it came down to: Why? Why does this need to be a thing?
After having conversations with several friends, said friends being on both sides of the argument for the movie, I decided to give the recent Turtles movie a chance… and was sorely disappointed that I had spent the money on a ticket. When asked what I thought of the movie by a friend, I proceeded to jokingly reply with: “Let’s just say that I had a cop, afterward, ask me to point on the doll where Michael Bay had violated my childhood.”
In reality, though, my childhood stays in tact, what with the classic series available on DVD and Nickelodeon doing a damned fine job holding their own with the current animated series. No, what ultimately bothered me about the recent Turtles film was the fact that, at multiple times, the narrative asked that viewers both disregard as well as remember the original source material; the story that those of us seeing the movie in our mid- to late-thirties had grown up watching. It was very jarring, jumping from a mangled back story to, out of nowhere, bringing up the fact that Leonardo and Raphael have some kind of deeper sibling rivalry going than they did with the other turtles. Add to the chaos a Shredder who was more Transformer than badass ninja warrior guy dude, and you’ve got a new image to put next to the definition of “trainwreck” in the dictionary.
It was on the heels of accepting the trauma of the recent Turtles movie that I heard about the new Ghostbusters movie. Regardless of the casting decisions (I couldn’t care less if the cast were all-female this go-round) I was not so keen on the idea of yet another ‘80s staple brought back out of the archive, dust blown off, and shaken around in Hollywood’s attempt to keep pumping out stories for the movie-going crowd. I was immediately on the side of “No, no, no. Dear God, no. For the love of everything that is sacred: NO.”
However, after having conversations with a few people who were, again, on both sides of that proverbial fence – some with me on the “No” train, others who were okay with it – I started to steer more into the idea of being okay with it, to the point of actually being curious as to what this version of the story could bring to the proverbial table. If nothing else, said steering was caused by those who were of the same mind as I was, as far as “No” was concerned; however, that was about as far as our causes aligned. The biggest criticism I saw was against the all-female casting, and it was ultimately this criticism that made me rethink my own criticism against the idea. With that, I started to analyze my own “reasons” for my negativity, and when it was all said and done, said negativity was found to be completely ridiculous and uncalled for.
If nothing else, nothing is being taken away from the children within us, who grew up with the original Ghostbusters series. Just like I mentioned with the Turtles, the original movies are available to own on DVD and Blu-ray; in fact, they’re probably even available to watch on such streaming applications as Hulu or Netflix. They’re not automatically locked in some kind of vault, never to see the light of day again, just because this new movie is gaining a life of its own – we’re not dealing with Disney, here. So calm down, nerds: your precious childhood is still in tact.
Also, let’s be honest for just a moment here: like with most ‘80s films, Ghostbusters is a bit dated. Not as much as Back to the Future (as that actually deals with actual dates), but you can tell that, compared to films being released these days, there’s something slightly off about the original Ghostbusters. This is not to say that there’s anything wrong with the original; but try to get a child or teenager to get into the series now, and you’re more than likely to get a bored look, followed by a flagrant show of aggression in the form of said child or teenager putting their Virtual Reality helmets back on and getting back to their blasted Dan Fogelberg and Pac-Man video games.
Quite frankly, this new Ghostbusters is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t – that much, you can already tell, only from how this first official trailer has drawn a clearer line between those who are giving it a shot and those who are ready to shoot it dead. The trailer itself pops, with an updated version of the original theme to induce goosebumps for anyone with a lick of positive nostalgia. (A theme that, while very catchy, was kinda-sorta stolen from Huey Lewis is structure. Just sayin’, purist nerdboys.) It also gives us a look at the characters and the sparkly special effects.
But let me tell you, what truly guaranteed my dropping of the dollars for the price of admission was the Ecto-1: the vehicle our rag-team crew used to not only get around New York City, but also as a mobile advert for their bustin’-of-the-paranormal business. I have an affinity for the vehicles in these supernatural/Science Fiction genres (ex: gotta love the likes of the TARDIS, the Millenium Falcon, the Serenity, the USS Enterprise, etc., etc.) so I love the looks of both versions of the Ecto-1; however, it’s the individual origins of these two vehicles and what they represent that have my nerd-dar… erm, ner-adar… whatever, nerd radar beeping fanatically.
In the ‘80s universe of Ghostbusters, the Ecto-1 was fashioned from a 1950s professional ambulance, while in the new Ghostbusters, it’s fashioned from a hearse. One gives off the message of “We’re here to save the living”; the other, “We’re here to deal with the dead”. For a series whose new vision of the universe involves a flip-flopping of the gender roles, having the four leads be female while the secretary role is played by none other than Thor Odinsson, the juxtaposition of the Ecto-1 between versions makes even more sense. And shows that some thought was put into making this version; at the very least, it makes me, with all my head-canons and hypotheses, believe extra thought was put into it – and that’s what matters.
And, yes, that is what I got from the trailer. The trailer that was only a couple minutes long. The trailer that was meant to show a little bit more than what we had to go on already. The trailer that was meant to spark conversations regarding the film it was promoting.
Some feel that the trailer was horrendous and “un-funny”. I’ve already put several words to this table-flip, so I’ll consider to make the attempt to not belabor this point for too long. As I said before, this trailer was damned if it did and damned if it didn’t. The way most trailers run, these days (unless you’re JJ Abrams), you can save your money on buying a ticket, and just spend the time piecing together all the bits from every trailer released for any one particular movie – I mean, if I didn’t want to go out and socialize recently, I probably would have done so with the recent Marvel films. And it’s that type of mindset that led to feeling like seeing these movies was some kind of a chore; yes, there were a few things that were left out from the trailers, but pretty much every “good bit” was shown several times over in the trailers.
I feel this trailer for Ghostbusters was simply a means to show the bright and shiny new things about this universe. New characters? Check. New vehicle? Check. New ghost-bustin’ weapons? Double check. Shiny new logo? Checks all the way to the bank.
With all that, I’m completely fine with not feeling that the trailer didn’t highlight as much of the comedy as many of my friends and fellow podcasters felt it probably should have. Then again, you’re dealing with a franchise that originally starred Bill Murray – tell me, friends: with that in mind, did you truly think the initial trailer for this movie was going to have one-line zingers to top that of Murray himself? Or maybe that’s the point of the vehemence toward this film and its trailer.
Either way, I have faith in this film. Needless to say, there’s been plenty of shite to hit the cinemas recently that have not received the amount of vitriol that this trailer has; some, I must say, more deserving.
All I’ll say is this: if you’re not happy with this latest Ghostbusters film based on the trailer, that’s fine. You’re wrong, but that’s fine. It’s just a movie, and if you’re letting it affect you (“to your core” – I’m looking at you, Lynch), then it’s already won. It’s already in your head, and sooner or later it’s going to plant the curiosity in your mind as to whether or not it’s as bad as you have mentally built it up to be.
So let’s see what more comes from the studios before the actual film’s release. Or not.