Ghostbusters (2016), an extensive rant…

This was meant to be my 100th post but I realized that I would not be able to write everything in one go like I usually do, and decided to take my time to organize my thoughts. 100 posts was an occasion to celebrate and what better way to do that then by picking on a low hanging fruit: Ghostbusters 2016!

At first I had some serious reservations about this film and wrote two rather extensive post before, which you can read here and here. In the weeks that followed, more and more clip and TV were shoved on the internet and it was more of the same and hardly seem to calm any of controversy around the movie and even maybe fuel it even more. Finally it was time for review screenings and surprisingly, that movie seemed to have received quite a bit of praise. Maybe the movie wasn’t all that bad. Then came user scores and that when things got more interesting:

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One is not like the other…

Things were not any better on IMDB with a score that was around 4 out of 10 by Thursday. This sort of left me in weird situation: one the hand, it could be an ok movie. after all I liked “spy” and “The Heat”, maybe I would like it. On the other hand most of the positive review came from sites and journalist who have been writing for months that anyone who disliked the trailer were nothing more than basement dwelling, woman hating loser, meaning that they would post a good review regardless of how bad it actually was.

Well, there is only one way to know for sure and that is going to the theater and sit through it, and I can report that this film did not disappoint… and by that I mean that it was painfully horrible. I am going to have to “spoil” a few plot points in the rant so unless you haven’t read the leaked plot that have been on the internet for month and actually want to see this godless monstrosity of a film, fell free to stop reading now.

Now, on to all the things that drags this movie down to “Fant4stic”‘s level of terribleness:

Oh boy where to start? I guess will start with some of the rumors that have been spread around the internet.

Some people have been going around about how the movie is a giant man bashing movie and how no male character is portrayed in a positive manner. As it turns out, that is not entirely true but mostly right. None of the male side characters seem to have an iota of common sense or seem remotely like they could possibly exist in the real world, but it’s not like the main characters do either, so +1 for consistency. There are couple male character that I would call neutrally portrayed, but there are are very minor and the more prominent ones are utterly negative caricatures. There is only a couple female side character and barely have any character.

There were some rumors early on the there was a clash of egos between two of the main actresses and that they had to alter the script to make sure they all had equal amounts of lines to say, and I think some truth to that. There are a couple instances in the movie where McCarthy and Wiig have these pointless bickering that felt more like padding than anything else, and I think that is because of that rumored clash of egos. You could cut three or four of those without losing any of the plot or Character development. Unless they were supposed to be jokes, and they really did not work.

Talking about jokes, none of them were funny. Pixels was one of the worst movies of last year but it still managed a couple chuckles out of me and the small audience that was in the theater. When it came to Ghostbusters, no one and I mean absolutely no one laughed at any of the jokes, not even a chuckle or a half heart “haha”. Let me explain a couple of the jokes that shocked me because of how stupid they were:

  • The three “scientist” go to the haunted mansion to check out the ghost and they meet up with the tour guide. they are like ” yeah doctor whatever told us you had ghost” and tour guide is like “doctor whatever? but he’s been dead for like fifteen years”. The punchline was that the doctor came earlier was doctor whatever JR and that it was the father that was dead for fifteen years… funny right?  no, it wasn’t.
  • Chris Hemsworth character, during his interview for the receptionist job, ask if he could bring “my cat” to the office. except he doesn’t have a cat, it a dog called “Mike hat” (why he pronounced it “my cat” the first time is complete mystery) and it lives with his mother, he did not need to even bring to the office ever! Why did he even bring that up! To show how idiotic he is? like we did not figure that out by then! That whole dialogue was an entire waste of probably two minutes!
  • When they are taken in custody by the federal agents and explain that the government already has a team of paranormal researcher they complain that the siren on the car is not “patriotic” enough… what is that suppose to mean?

Some people actually liked how impossibly moronic Chris Hemsworth’s character was but I found him to be the most annoying character in any movie I have ever seen. I don’t think it is even humanly possible to be both that stupid and functioning adult being. Most of the “jokes” felt so out of place and so cliche, some even felt like there should have been that badum tshh sound effect to indicate when you are supposed to be laughing. I think you could cut every lame joke out the script and actually make it better.

There were no “scary” moments either because they never let film build any tension or suspense. When the first ghost shows up, before they could build up the creep factor, they break the tension with a lame joke with McKinnon loudly eating chips! The only moment that had potential was a very brief scene where Leslie Jones is chase by a possessed mannequin but as fast it appeared, the mannequin is destroyed revealing that ugly green dragon thing. There is no mystery to unravel because they show you from the get go the ghost summoning machines, the villain does that cliche talking to himself exposition thing (and it does not help the entire plot was leaked month before). What make the original so great is that you did not know who, or what, Gozer was or how the building fitted into the plot until the beginning of the third act of the movie. None of that is this one, everything is blatantly made obvious.

Talking about the bad script, it would not be complete without plot hole big enough to fit the entire solar system,  now would it?

I identified three major plot holes that really breaks the plot of this sorry excuse of a film, and were talking plot holes the size of the solar system! I’ll go through them in the order they appear in the film, so here we go:

  • Hole #1: Authorship of the book…

The thing that kicks this thing into gear is the book that McCarthy’s and Wiig’s character wrote some time before the movie started. Wiig’s character decided that she did not want to publish the book and went on to become a university professor. At some point McCarthy’s character to publish the book and put Wiig as the Co-author. Now I am no expert when it come to book publishing but I am fairly certain you cannot simply publish a book with someone else’s name on it without their consent, even if she helped write it. All that Wiig’s character should have done is get a lawyer and sue McCarthy’s character. But then that would mean no ghostbusters and the end of the world… Oops!

Besides McCarthy’s character could simply published the book with only herself as the author and the only difference that would have made to the plot is that Wiig’s character would not have joined the Ghostbusters or even needed to exist. Wiig’s character, as far I as could tell, made zero contribution to the team. All the gadget’s were designed and built by McCarthy and McKinnon, and Jones is the history expert. Wiig’s character is there just to be the butt of many unfunny jokes and because the original team had 4 members…

  • Hole #2: Stealing equipment from McCarthy’s institute lab…

After being laugh at by the president of what ever shit tech institute McCarthy was working at for asking to be funded, the trio leaves with the scientific equipment they were working with. Except it wasn’t their’s, it was the institute and stole everything.

I think it goes without saying that all the administration of that institute had to do is call the police, report the theft, give the name and address of the three idiots and have them arrested. Heck there is probably even video evidence of the them leaving the building with the stolen equipment. That would the simplest case to prosecute! Much like the first plot hole, that would mean no Ghostbusters and the end of the world… Real world logic is such a pesky thing…

  • Hole #3: Rowan becoming a ghost…

about maybe half way through the movie, the four self proclaimed “ghostbusters” corner the villain called Rowan, played by Neil Casey, in his dingy lair in the basement of the hotel he works at. Not wanting to be arrested, he kills himself in order to later come back as a ghost to carry out the last part of his plan. There are a couple problems within this one:

  1. They never explain why some people can become ghost or others can’t. As far as I know there was no guarantee for Rowan to become a ghost. He could have killed himself and simply move on to the afterlife, completely ruining his plan.
  2. Even if he was sure to become a ghost, how could he manifest in the material world? all the ghost we ever saw within the movie were manifested by his portable ghost machine, there is no evidence that any ghost could actually manifest without one. There could have been one lying around his lair but the place was crawling with cops and special agents, they would have spotted the very noticeable hum, the occasional sparks and blue glow of thing!

Conclusion: Rowan could never have pulled off the become a ghost part of his plan, mean the ghostbusters are public shamed by the officials but the world gets to live on… Not much of a movie ending…

There are a lot more smaller plot holes like:

  • If Rowan could take control of a small army, why didn’t he simply did the same to the ghostbusters?
  • Why didn’t the government, who seemed to already have team of paranormal researcher, hire the ghostbusters instead of using them as public punching bag?
  • If Rowan was so smart and had all those degrees, surely he would have found a far better job than technician for a hotel.
  • Why did they stop Slimer from stealing the car? They had plenty of time to lasso him when he was busy eating from the food cart.
  • Heck why didn’t they drive through the food cart in the first place? Those things are not made of concrete! It would barely made a dent on the bumper.
  • if their proton packs are powerful enough to destroy a ghost and have an standalone gadget that those just that (the so called Ghost Chipper) why bother making a containment unit and ghost traps? let them just go around with the ghost chipper, it’s way less destructive and probably a lot cheaper!

There too many to list them all but I think you get the Idea: the plot was not very well thought through. and whose fault would that be? I going to say it was Feig’s fault. In one of Sony’s leaked email, Amy Pascal said of Ivan Reitman wanting to direct the next Ghostbusters that “it did not matter who produced it, if the director is wrong”. I could not put it better myself though the wrong director in this case is Feig! He was clearly not ready to do a movie on this scale and it shows.

Early in the film, Wiig’s character is approach by someone that work at the haunted mansion thing, the guy I mention above in the terrible joke section. You can tell in that scene that either the script was bad or the director was because the characters do this back and forth on set. Wiig would try to deny her involvement with the book and start to walk away and the guy would rebuke her, and then she would start walking the other way and rinse and repeat a couple times, walking in circles… Is that the best they could do for that scene? why not have them walk down the corridor or into her office?

He could not even manage to do the much rumored dance scene properly! Instead it literally cut down to less than one minute, with Hemsworth making everyone take a pose! the rest of the dance scene footage was spliced into the background of the credit and it looked pretty bad if you asked me. Reportedly, it cost Sony in the low seven figure to make happen too! What a complete waste of money!

That is probably just the tip of the iceberg too, because there is a considerable amount of stuff that was shown in the trailers and the many TV spots that did not make the cut! That monologue at the beginning of the second trailer about how no should experience such horrors? Not in the film! That scene with a ton of neon blue ghost standing together? Not in the film! That scene where Hemsworth jokes about needing a bigger boat? Not in the Film! What about this behind the scene photo of what seem to be a fight sequence? could be the one at the end of the film but all those extras in the background are not in the theater cut! They CGI’d fog on top of them! You can’t see any of them in the final cut! that must have been quite expensive to hire all the extras, give them full costumes with LEDs and do multiple takes, only to go “eeehhh” and erase them with computer graphics…

In most scenes, McCarthy barely emotes at all, she mostly talk in the same slightly pissed tone, and Wiig barely seem to have emotions. Kate McKinnon is probably the only one that tried to chew scenery but in happens so far apart that it barely makes a difference. Leslie jones performance was OK I guess. I don’t really expect her to show up in another big budget film anytime soon.

Alright, I think I made my point across: this movie blows hard. There is more thing I want to address though and that is how this movie has been covered in the media. I know I will probably sound like someone wearing a tin foiled hat but stick with me, I have evidence. Here is my premise: People in the media are desperate for political points and want to movie to succeed in the name of “feminism” even if it means lying through their teeth about it. I would be tempted to say that some of the critic were probably encouraged to give favorable reviews too. Sony has a history of bribing for good reviews and writing their own reviews after all.

There is huge gap between what some of “professional critics” and what the general public think of this movie, which is best showed by this screen cap of the metacritic page:

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That viewer score on rotten tomatoes is not 44% anymore because there has been an influx of users like this totally real and typical reviewer on rotten tomatoes. RottenTomatoes is not the only one suffering from bot infestation. Check this rather strange score statistic from IMDB:

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Why do I think this is not normal? Well, despite my very best attempts, I could not find a single movie on IMDB with such a discrepancy in the scoring between genders. Even big manly action flick like “Top Gun” and “Die Hard”, or even chick flics like “Princess diaries” and “Love Actually” don’t show anything like that! They even went the extra mile and made all what I presume to be bot accounts female to try hammer more of that Misogyny angle they had been working on for the past months… I dare you to find another movie with a similar anomaly is scores, because I am fairly certain you won’t be able to.

This thing is nearing three thousand words already so let’s wrap it up. This movie is not funny, it is not scary, Sony spent a shit load of money and probably wasted most of it and the media cares more about politics than admit the movie sucked. There is some “good” news is the form of really poor box office performance however. Ghostbusters only made 46 million dollars on opening weekend, less than “The Secret Lives of Pets” that came out a week before it. week day numbers are not any better and if the new “Star trek” movie is successful, that will be another massive blow into Sony’s finances. Oh next week there is a new “Bourne” movie and the week after that it’s “Suicide Squad”. in other words: Ghostbusters will probably not survive and Sony is set to lose a ton of money. Maybe they shouldn’t have insulted their audience…

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Random thoughts of the week…

Apparently this is my 100th post on this blog of mine. Hooray! Internet cakes for everyone! I started writing another post for this special occasion but I realized that I had so much that I wanted to say that I decided to postpone it so that it can be done properly. Instead I am going for a simple collection of short and unrelated thoughts. Enjoy!

*****

It’s the break through of the year, flooding every news websites, everyone is doing it and no one can escape it’s clutches. Yes, I am of course talking about Pokemon Go. I have yet to actually download it but There are very few people that I know that hasn’t tried to take me in the fold. It also does not help that is pretty much the only topic most “tech” sections of news website seem to be interested in reporting. Nvidia releasing their new mainstream GPU for $250? Who cares! Someone fell off a cliff somewhere or got robed while play Pokemon Go! Even the local custom T-shirt store got in on the craze, selling team shirts:

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But I want to join Team Rocket…

Apparently people are already talking about how much more active they have become since the app requires you to actually go out to the outside world to do anything. My sister was telling me that there is now more joggers than ever in central park, because people are out there for Pokemons.  With people are already touting how much of a workout they are getting of VR games, there seem to some sort of trend developing with newer high tech gadget encouraging to more active. Nothing gets people to workout like video games? Pretty ironic if you ask me.

I think it is only a matter of time until we get Augmented Reality goggles and start seeing “real life” Pokemon tournament in stadiums and arenas. That would actually be a ton of fun to watch. Maybe I’ll download it by the end of the week and walk around, see what mysterious creature lurk around the midwest.

*****

A little bit belated but it was the Omaha Comic Con a couple weekends ago. thought it wasn’t either in Omaha or even in Nebraska, rather it was in Council Bluff Iowa, just across the river. Apparently it’s cheaper there and free parking, so who can argue?

It was also quite small compare to say the New York Comic Con, thought to be fair it is only the second year they are organizing it and they don’t have giant sponsors like New York does. It still somehow managed to have the same feel: people in costumes booth with artist selling posters and doing commissions, boxes upon boxes of $0.50 comics, cool t-shirts, model painting competition… The whole lot! I ended up snagging 20 $0.50 comics, a cool T-shirt and a nice poster card sized print to put in my cubicle.

*****

One of my college buddies has started his first Kickstarter Campaign for a card game he created! How exciting is that? It is called “Collectors and Capers” and each player take the role of a thief, trying to steal a priceless artifact from a museum. The gameplay revolve around either strong arming your way through or bluffing on how good your cards are. It sort has a Steve Jackson games vibe to it, like Ninja Burgers and Munchkin The campaign it self is already quite successful being, close to 5000 out of 7000 needed in just eight days. It was play tested in a couple table top games convention around Seattle and has gotten a lot of positive feedback. there is also a review on Legends of Tabletop.

If you would like to help out, you can find the Kickstarter campaign here. If you do choose to pledge, help spread the word as well, It would be really awesome seeing this campaign being successful.

Some general life update…

It is currently the middle of the summer, and as you may know, it gets really hot here in the mid west. The building I live in is far from being the most modern thing in the world and therefore it is no surprise that the Air conditioning is less than spectacular. Usually, the AC is struggling to cool my apartment and the temperature tend to hover around 80 to 82 degrees during the day but manage to cool it down to a more appropriate 74-75 in the evening. Last year, there was a leak and all the coolant had evaporated. Fortunately that was a quick fix and I only had to suffer for a couple days. This year, the compressor decided to die.

Now if you are not familiar with the working of an air conditioning unit, here’s the short version:

The coolant in the unit is a gas that is liquified by pressurization and that boils at room temperature. Because going from liquid to gas is an endothermic process (I.e it absorbs heat), all you have to do is cycle the liquid, let it boil and evaporate (cooling the air) and then re-liquify it and repeat.

The crucial part in the AC is the compressor, the pump that pressurizes the gas back into liquid form, and the one for my apartment decided that now was good time to go. As you can guess the result was Catastrophic, with temperature reach 95 degrees in my apartment  until 11PM.For now I am stuck with a portable unit that works even less. It will cool down only one room, and unfortunately, it is in my living room and not my bed room… I guess I could sleep on the couch for a while…

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I guess there could be a silver lining to all this. Maybe the reason my AC never quite worked was because of the compressor being on its last leg, and getting a new one might actually make my AC better than before! Only time will tell.

*****

Some time ago, I went and bought myself some Bitcoins. Actually more like a fraction of Bitcoin. I was interested by the technology, the price had just crashed, and the first Bitcoin ATM was about to open in a Cupcake store near where my office is. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to jump on the band wagon and see what the fuzz was about. While I was originally enthusiastic about the possibilities, I ultimately did nothing with my Bitcoins. I regained interest in my holdings after I learned that because of the fear over the “Brexit”, the price of Bitcoins had sky rocketed. My 40 dollars worth of virtual money was now worth over 120 dollars! Exciting times!

But how does one sell their Bitcoins? I guess i could have used one of the many online exchanges, but with all the stories of those getting hacked, I decided to give those a pass. Instead, I decided to use the same ATM from which I bought the Bitcoin from. The process is very simple, tell the machine how much you want to sell, scan the barcode it generates, and then wait half an hour for the transaction to process… HALF AN HOUR!!! Also the machine will not buy at market value and even though I requested 80$ worth of sale, I had to pay 89$ worth of bitcoin. I still doubled my original investment, which is far better than I thought I would get out of this experiment. I not entirely sold on Bitcoin but I still see potential in the concept and technology behind it.

*****

I got Tickets for the New York Comic Con! Yeah! It was a pain in the back but well worth it. Starting this year, you had to essentially fill an online application form to be assigned a ticket. If you did not fill the form, you could not have the ticket assigned to your name and the ticket would ultimately be refunded! It was not the most straight forward experience and I had to wait for an hour on the store page before I could put my order in. By the time the store page was open to me, both the four day passes and the three day passes were sold out, thankfully I only wanted single day passes for Saturday.

I am probably not going to go as a Jedi like I did last year. I could just go in street clothes but I feel like cosplaying is part of the experience.

Independence Day Resurgence, a review…

I was thinking about starting this post about how this year was the summer of unnecessary sequel/reboot from the 80s-90s but then I realized that there were only two: Independence Day and Ghostbusters, so so much for that. That being said, Independence day does not really feel like a proper sequel to the first movie and feels more like an attempted remake.

I would probably say something about “spoiler alerts” and how I “would recommend you see the movie first” about now but this movie is extremely mediocre at best, you are not missing much by only reading my opinion and not seeing the movie.

There are some movie where you can sort of tell they had a trouble production and multiple scripts eventually merged into the final version, and the new Independence Day is one of those. To me, it felt like the script went through at least four iterations: First they had a simple sequel planned, all the major characters were there (including Will Smith) and the plot would have revolved around the second attack of the alien bad guys. It would play like the first movie, alien show up out of nowhere, our technology is useless, but hours before extinction they’ll find a solution and save the day.

Then someone came along and said: “Young adults movies are the rage now and Will smith is not doing so great, replace him with some bland young hero and kill off Will’s character!” and so they did… Then thirdly someone else said: “hey, Marvel is doing great and their film are full jokes and levity. Put in some of that instead of dramatic tension!” and so they did… and finally someone said: “This will obviously be a hit, now find a contrived way to force a sequel out of it!” and so they did…

The new characters are about as interesting to watch as drying paint and have the personality of a wooden plank. It very clear that they were doing what was originally planned to be done by Will smith’s character. There is a scene where the new guys finds themselves inside the alien mothership and escape by stealing alien space fighters. How did they manage to figure out how to use the aliens planes? As far as we know they never had any experience flying the alien’s space craft, but you know who did? Will Smith!

I know a lot of people like to diss the original movie but I happen to like it. Sure it is not a masterpiece of film making and there are a couple plot hole big enough to drive a car through but it still had some form of cohesion. Even if you knew the humans would prevail in the end, there were still some suspense and drama. The new one has neither. Any moment where suspense or seriousness could be built up in the story was immediately thrown out in favor of a “funny” quip by one of the 5 possible annoying sidekicks. It suffers from the same problem that “Age of Ultron” had, there were too many swings in the tone of the story. A scene where everyone sort sits down and think that it may be too late is always followed by either by a “fish out of the water” type of joke or a “quirky character being quirky” moment. Very annoying.

Finally there is the “hope for a sequel” subplot. It feels very out of place and rushed. Early in the film, before the actual bad alien show up, the heroes shout down an unknown alien spaceship and towards the end it is revealed to be an enemy of the bad aliens who was trying to help save man kind. It reveals that there is a planet with survivor of other planets that were attacked by the bad aliens and that the good aliens want the humans mount a counter offensive… How original…

Other than the bad script and boring characters, there isn’t a lot to say. The music is forgettable, and the special effects are as good as you can expect from a modern Hollywood blockbuster. The more I think about it, the more I feel like the special effect from the first movie where better. It had a good mix of practical effects, puppetry and CGI, while the new one only has CGI, which makes it feel lazier. I am not saying that CGI is hard to accomplish, but rather that it feels very blasé. At least we have people like JJ Abrams who still use a lot of detailed physical sets and practical effects rather than film everything against a green screen.

Conclusion: it is not a very good film but I think we all knew that already. The big question now is: can Ghostbusters do worse? because if this photo of toys already on clearance and this video of Ivan Reitman are signs of things to come, it is not looking to good.