Review: Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary
PLOT: Fired from their cushy University gig, three para-psychologists, Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Dr. Ray Stanz (Dan Aykroyd) and Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) start their own business, Ghostbusters, dedicated to controlling New York Citys growing problem with ghosts.
REVIEW: I was born in 81, so you can imagine that growing up GHOSTBUSTERS had a huge effect on me. I honestly cant remember the first time I saw it. Unlike The James Bond series, which I vividly remember discovering on December 31st, 1989 when ABC played THUNDERBALL, I have no similar memory of discovering GHOSTBUSTERS. Like BACK TO THE FUTURE (which came out a year later) it was always just there, and I dont really remember a time when it wasnt one of my favorite movies. I presume I somehow saw it on First Choice (the Canadian equivalent of HBO) sometime in 85 (when I would have been four) but over the years Ive watched it so many times that Id wager the number is somewhere around forty or more.
Most of these viewings probably happened during my high school years, when me and my childhood best friend Danny used to watch it weekly. In fact, Danny was such a big Ghostbusters fan he had replicas of the suits, the proton packs, the PKE metres, and the traps made all of which must have cost a pretty penny as they looked so authentic. Of course, I also bought the film on VHS, DVD (twice) and Blu-ray, but up until a few short years ago I had never experienced GHOSTBUSTERS on the big screen.
Which brings me to the point of this article (forgive me for burying the lead). This weekend, to mark the 30th anniversary of the first film, GHOSTBUSTERS is getting a nationwide rollout in its 4K restored version. Its opening pretty much everywhere (including Canada) and regardless of how many times youve seen the film, you owe it to yourself to see it on the big-screen. Those of us who grew up with it on video can tell you what a revelation it was just seeing the film on DVD, as we were used to a heavily cropped pan & scan version that spoiled director Ivan Reitmans 2:35:1 scope visuals, and cannibalized the special FX, which were nominated for an Oscar. If you grew up watching it on DVD or Blu-ray, youll likely have a similar experience seeing it on the big screen for the first time, as GHOSTBUSTERS was always a film that was best appreciated on the big-screen, with a ravenous audience of fans laughing along to all the best lines.
As for the film itself, its tough to explain just how much of an effect GHOSTBUSTERS had on the modern blockbuster, but suffice to say, something like GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY wouldnt exist without GHOSTBUSTERS. What Reitmans film did was blend genres in a way that was truly novel and is still tough to pull off. When I read about the series being rebooted, I always wince because I feel like someone will get the recipe wrong. Itll either be too funny, or too serious. GHOSTBUSTERS is the rare tentpole thats hilarious throughout, but also has real stakes, with the fate of the world (or at least New York City) being at stake throughout. Even a visual gag like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man becomes kinda scary and legitimately threatening in the big FX-laden climax, which is something thats hard to pull off. In fact, its so tough to pull off Id argue Reitman and company werent able to replicate the formula for GHOSTBUSTERS II (which depending on your age is either worse or much better than you remember).
Watching the film now, it cant help but feel miraculous just to see how seamlessly all the elements blend together, and how on-point everyone from the actors to the special fx guys, to the set designers, composers, etc., were here. Its a flawless film, anchored by the amazing chemistry between real-life pals Bill Murray (a last-minute substitute for the late John Belushi), Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis, Aykroyd and Ramis co-wrote the screenplay, and clearly knew exactly how to play to their strengths and Murrays. This pretty much made Murray the cult icon he is today, with him being the cool-guy funny man which is a tough gig to pull off. His chemistry with love interest Sigourney Weaver is top notch, with her clearly relishing the break from her more serious roles and having a ball acting alongside Murray and Rick Moranis (as the bespectacled Louis Tully aka The Keymaster), especially when she gets to play Dana Barrett as possessed by Zuul.
Telling everyone who reads the site to go see GHOSTBUSTERS on the big screen is probably like preaching to the choir, as I assume most of you wont be able to pass up the opportunity. But, if youre on the fence and wondering how it could possibly be better than watching the Blu-ray, you really should experience the film with an audience as theres something really special about the experience. Ill be the first to admit that not all films need to be experienced on the big screen, but this is one that absolutely does.
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