Let’s talk about the Ghostbusters’ reboot… part 2

I realized that I forgot to mention in last night’s post a couple of things that I noticed from the second international trailer. The other post was already quite long and felt like it had a coherent flow to it, so I guess this is its unworthy sequel.

In the opening of the international trailer, there a few cuts with promotional blurbs. The first one simply states “From Columbia Pictures” I.E. Sony, nothing too interesting here. things are more interesting with the next two:

The first one you see is the spider-man one. When I first watched this trailer I thought they meant The Amazing Spider-man, the films with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stones, but then I realized it only said “Spider-man” not “Amazing Spider-man”. Now look at the font they used for the title, it is not the font they used for the “Amazing Spider-man” but rather the font for Sam Raimi’s original Spider-man films. Isn’t that curious? The last film Raimi did, Spider-man 3, came out in 2007, that borderline to a decade ago. Why would Sony want to refer to a series of film which they failed at rebooting? They failed so bad with the second Amazing Spider-man film, they renegotiated the rights with Marvel so that Marvel could use the character in “Civil War” and Marvel will be making the next Spider-man film. Isn’t this like saying “Hey forget about the horrible reboot and remember the good old films!”? Not exactly a vote of confidence, especially when trying to promote a reboot!

And then they bring in “Men in Black”, which I find to also be a curious choice. Do they mean the relatively recent “Men in Black 3” from 2012? It wasn’t a bad film but I am not sure it was a commercial success either. Maybe they meant to refer to the first film, but that came out in 1997, that’s almost two decades ago! Has Sony really done nothing successful enough for them to have to dig so far back in time to have franchises that are somewhat presentable?

I know that “the studio that brought you” is a fairly standard marketing thing, but it is a really stupid one. I sincerely doubt that any one that work on either Men in Black or the original “Spider-man” had anything to do with the production of this Ghostbusters movie. Also, Columbia Picture made “Pixels” and “the Interview”. I am fairly certain they won’t be bragging about these two films anytime soon!

A more important detail to me is the complete lack of Paul Feig’s name on any of the trailers. One of the big “selling points” for this movie was that Paul Feig did successful comedies with female leads, such as “bridesmaid” and “The Heat”. Wouldn’t you think they would want to use that fact in the trailers, rather than “Spider-man” and “Men in Black”? I think this is more evidence for my theory that there is some beef between Sony’s executives and Feig. Maybe they fear that Feig’s name isn’t marketable after the backlash they received and would rather erase his involvement from the marketing? Who knows at this point.

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Let’s talk about the Ghostbusters’ reboot…

I think we would all agree that there are certain topics that tend to go out of hand when “discussed” on the internet. Religion and Politics are two of the more common touchy subject that most people would try to avoid if drama is not what their looking for. Who would have thought that Ghostbusters would become one of those subject? The first trailer became one the most disliked videos on youtube, the director had a meltdown on twitter and told people to “F*%$ themselves”, people are calling each other names for not wanting to watch the film. What a complete mess.

Now before people start making assumption about what side of this debacle I’m taking and start throwing insults my way, I feel I need to explain where I relative to the Ghostbuster franchise prior the whole thing hit the fan. As you may already be aware I’m not american, neither did I grow up in the United States, so Ghostbusters was not something I grew up with, heck I was not even born back then. Therefore it not a franchise that has left a mark on my childhood. The closest I ever got to the franchise when I was really young was the classic theme song, as my mother had it on vinyl and remember listening to it at my grandparent’s house.

If I recall correctly, the first time that I watched the movie was when it came out on UMD in 2005 for Sony’s Playstation portable console (The UMD was sony’s proprietary format for game on the PSP, and eventually released films on the format for on the go movie experience, a novel idea at the time). I thought it was good film and that the special effects were quite impressive at the time. I could understand  why it was a cult classic at the time. It had a good mix of humor and thriller/horror elements to it and the action was never over the top. For example, toward the end of the film, they have to climb to the top of the building in order to confront Gozer the destroyer. In any run of the mill mindless action figure, the hero would have simply rushed out of a door on the top floor without breaking a sweat or running out of breath, in the original ghostbusters, you see them struggling up the stairs complaining and whining as they make their way up 22 flights of stairs. This not only serve as a comedic moment but also help ground the movie in reality, as carrying a portable particle accelerator on your a back must be quite a tedious task. Basically, ghostbusters is a clever and well written film that plays it self serious with a healthy dose of subtle and refined humor.

I did eventually watch the sequel when I was in college. While the consensus is that it is a bad film, I thoroughly enjoyed it. While it is true that it not as funny or as suspenseful as the first one, I think it still has it’s moments.

So to recap: I did not grow up with ghostbusters but still like the franchise. Cool.

This brings us to the now controversial reboot/remake. When I heard that they were going to make new movie that would feature an all female lead, I did not think much of it at the time. It came across like an curious choice to me but I simply wrote it off as Hollywood’s attempt at “diversity”. I was going to hold judgement on the film until the trailer or some promotional image came out. Having enjoyed both “The Heat” and “Spy”, two of Paul Feig’s recent movies, I felt that there was some potential in the reboot. I started to worry at little bit by the end of 2015 because all that come out of Sony were some teaser of the jumpsuits and of the Ecto-1 car. I would have thought that Sony would at least post a rough trailer before 2016, as Ghostbusters is lined up to be their only big release of summer 2016.

When the trailer was finally released by march of this year, like a lot of people on the internet, I was less then impressed but more importantly, I was confused. Sony had made a point to state that this new ghostbuster was going to be a completely new story and had nothing to do with the original films and yet the first things we see are literally this:

If it is supposed to be a brand new story where the original story never happened, why bother reference the original story? The first scene we get to see is three of the soon to be ghostbusters encountering a full torso apparition(no legs) in what seems to be a library, you know, exactly like the original film… It seems that that Sony has a different definition of what a “completely new story” means… Also I’m not sure if the first joke about slime getting “into every crack” is supposed to be sexual or not, but if it is, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the movie. The neon blue ghost are rather bland considering all the cool stuff you can do now a days with CGI. The rest of the trailer is hardly note worthy with maybe the exceptions of the Exorcist joke that was mildly funny, though a strange choice of gag since I feel like that joke has already being done to death in countless other skit and parody films. I guess the dead are not the only thing they brought back to life.

Then something interesting happened, someone who claimed to work for sony and have seen the a finished rough cut of the movie leaked the plot on reddit (the thread was apparently removed but here is an archive of the conversation, spoiler warning!). The interesting thing about this possible leak is that it contained several specific details that did appear in the first trailer, which had come out a couple days prior the leak, but were present in the international trailer that came out a couple days after, like the green dragon and the whole machine to summon ghosts plot element. I think it was around that point in time that my expectations of the movie crashed and that the media start churning out articles about how you don’t like the trailer you were obviously a giant women hater.

Let’s rewind back a year or two to the sony hack of 2014. Among the emails that were leaked by who we assume to be North Koreans, there was an email between Amy pascal, then a big honcho at Sony, and Paul Feig about Paul’s pitch for his version of Ghostbusters. While it is clear that this version of the story is not the final version it has a couple interesting tidbits, including the government trying to undermine the credibility of the ghostbusters, covering up the the paranormal activity, and a dance number by members of the army and the police. While it might read like bad fan fiction, I feel like this pitch is closer to a fresher Ghostbusters story that had more potential than the one presented by the trailer.

Now forward back to a couple days ago when a fresh set of trailer, and more importantly the second international trailer. Politician undermining the ghostbusters on tv? 32 second mark.  Government cover up? 1:36 of the second trailer.  Giant dance section with police and army? (also predicted in the reddit leak) A bit more tricky, but we see a huge collection of soldiers and police officers a few seconds in and then at the 1:01 mark, you can see in the background that everyone has taken a dance pose. Here are couple screencaps as well to illustrate my point:

You might argue that something to be expected, movie plot are not set in stone from start to finish and some things will stay and something changes so what? Well, I think there is more to those changes than simple script evolution.

After the whole trailer-hatred-sexism thing hit the media, Mellisa McCarthy did come out and said that she also didn’t like the original trailer but the executive did not care for her opinion. This seed my mind with a theory  as to why something felt off with this movie: Executive meddling.

I would like to posit the following theory: Paul Feig was originally given carte-blanche and creative freedom for his Ghostbusters film by Amy pascal. However Amy pascal was eventually kicked out of Sony after the email scandal and another set of executive took over the Ghostbusters project and they were worried that Feig’s take on the franchise was too different and would alienate the fans of the original franchise and forced him to make the film closer to the originals. That would explain the meltdown on twitter, due to the frustration of the executive meddling with the film,  and explain some of the rumored production troubles and the original trailer’s heavy dose of nostalgia.

One last thing that would support my theory is the supposed ending: the ghostbusters listen to that magnetic tape you can briefly see in the trailer and they hear the word “zuul”. If that is true, then we can infer only one thing: they want to make sequel where the villain would be Gozer… You know because completely different and original means just copy & paste from the original these days…

I could be completely wrong about this but I feel like this theory answers all the issues I am seeing with movie. I am still on the fence on wether or not I will be seeing it in theatre when it comes out. These new trailer are far superior to the first ones, and had they come out first, I would have gone and seen the movie during the opening weekend without a second though. However, the first trailers combined by the amount of vitriol spewed by the media, I will probably wait until the review are out before making my decision.

If you are interested to learn more about some of the rumors and backdoor finagling surrounding ghostbusters, the Midnight’s edge youtube channel made three real good videos on ghostbusters which you can find here, here and here.

Captain America: Civil War…

DC Comics’ Batman VS Superman was the First of this year’s big Comic book superhero match up, which unfortunately for Warner Bros did not necessarily perform as well as it could. The action scene and the visuals were really impressive but the convoluted story and the set up for the sequels and other upcoming DC movie was not always well regarded. Could Marvel do better with Captain America? After all, they had a dozen major characters to handle, including two brand new ones to introduce! A lot of movie can’t even handle two villains, let alone twelve heroes!

Let’s start with some of the more technical aspect first before we talk in the storyline. As always the special effect are top notch, with enough practical stunt to make the action scene feel more realistic than they really are. There were a couple brief moment where I notice that some of the computer generated stuff looked a bit on the low res side of things but I doubt that most people would have noticed. The music was nothing special and rather forgettable. I can’t even recall what the credit roll theme sounded like despite having seen the movie only a couple days ago. Movie soundtrack is a bit of a lost art I suppose. The Movie did come out in 3d but that a complete waste of time, as you should already be aware of by now.

Thing do start to go a bit south with the plot. Like I mentioned, having twelve different characters do mean that a few of them get shoved to the side lines and only have what I would consider glorified Cameos, like Hawkeye and Ant Man. Heck the only two hero they were missing were Hulk and Thor, Which I guess is probably the only reason why this movie isn’t called “Avengers: Civil War” (a far more fitting title in my opinion). Heck It could also have been called “Iron Man Civil War” and it would not have made much of a difference.

Spiderman and Black panther are very well introduced however and I was quite impressed by Spiderman in particular. He far closer to the comic book version of Peter Parker than Garfield and Toby ever were and they did not bother giving him an origin story for once! There is bit of plot hole as to how Tony Stark figured out who Spiderman was, but that’s borderline nitpicking. Black Panther’s backstory and motivations are somewhat skimmed over, and it would help if you already have some idea of who he is before seeing the movie.

The biggest problem I have with the movie is the overall plot, namely there isn’t much of it. If Batman V Superman had too much plot, Captain America had too little. There is this big build up with this new villain that ultimately culminated into something so cliché, what a let down. I am not sure if I even understood the intention of the villain by the end of the film.

The way I see it, the last fight scene between Cap, Bucky and Stark could have been avoided if they decided to just sit down and talk things over like adults. It felt like that the author wrote the big fight at the airport as the finale, only to realize that it would barely be an hour and a half long movie and had to scramble to write an ending. Speaking of the ending, if you are familiar with the ending of the comic book arc and expecting “something” to happen, it’s not happening in this movie. Like how “The winter soldier” was more of a dark and serious Marvel movie, there was not that many funny moments. While there were a few light hearted scenes (specially when Spiderman was around), it was not “Guardian of the Galaxy” funny.

Ultimately, this movie felt like an Avengers 2.5. They had to set up a couple new characters and create the tensions and allegiances between certain characters for the next wave of movies. There is little in the way of character development (except maybe for one or two characters) and all that happens really is that Steve Rogers and Tony Stark hate each other now. It is still a decent film and worth a watch but I don’t think it lived up to the hype it had generated, kinda like “Age of Ultron“.

Defeated by technology…

I like Technology. While I might not be able to afford all the cool stuff, like one of those cool VR headsets, I try to to keep up with the times. That being said, when I found an Atari 2600 in working condition in a local video game store, I could not pass the chance.

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I snagged a couple game for a dollar each and drove back home very excited. I plugged the power in, screwed in the Coaxial cable in the antenna input of my TV, tuned in to channel 4 and …. all I got was static.

I could tell that the console was working because I could occasionally see a brief flash of the proper graphics, but none of the TV’s setting seemed to have any effect on the image. That’s when it hit me: The Atari gives out an analog signal and my TV only takes digital…

“But Alex, don’t you know you can simply plug your atari into the back of a VCR and simply use the VCR’s RCA output to get a clear picture?” Why yes astute voice in my head, I could simply do that. The problem still remain though: there are no RCA inputs for my TV, only HDMI and RGB… In other words, my Television is TOO MODERN! That also means that if I ever wanted to play something like some N64 or even something more modern like the Playstation 2, I would not be able to.

From what I know that such things as analog to digital converter and upscalers but those are pretty expensive and not necessarily reliable from what I heard. I guess I’ll have to go and find my self an old tv so that I can play old game consoles, which should not be too hard. Figuring out where to put the darn thing will be the hardest part. I guess the notion of backwards compatible is a dying one…