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Remakes of classic films are the strangest beasts in cinema. No one seems to like them, and often they're just laughed at and forgotten about. For example, the most common reaction to the upcoming Point Break remake is ambivalence, and I can't recall anyone doing much more than shrugging and chuckling when Gus Van Sant decided to make a shot-for-shot remake of Hitchcock's Psycho.
Yet there's one slated remake that attracts more ire than any other - Paul Feig's new version of Ghostbusters, due in summer 2016. Personally, I didn't really react when the announcement was first made. I'm a fan of the first two Ghostbusters films, and lost countless hours of my childhood watching The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. But I wasn't upset about the reboot. It didn't take away my enjoyment of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II. It didn't suddenly remove them from my DVD collection and it didn't make those films worse. I thought, if someone else wants to have a crack at telling that story then they can. If it's good, I'll watch it. If it's not, it doesn't affect me in any way.
This, though, doesn't seem to be the majority view (at least not online). There's no shrugging here. The majority of people seem to hate this film and it has not even been made yet! I think people should give it a chance, and here's why:
1. It's Being Made By Funny People
The new Ghostbusters film is being directed and co-written by Paul Feig, whose previous credits include creating (and writing for) the cult teen comedy-drama Freaks And Geeks as well as the critically acclaimed Bridesmaids and Spy (the latter of which was much funner than I had anticipated). Even The Heat, which was by no means amazing, had its amusing moments. He's also directed episodes of The Office, Arrested Development, 30 Rock and Parks & Recreation. His co-writer, Katie Dippold, is also an alum of the Parks & Rec writing room.
In front of the camera we have Kristen Wiig, who should need no introduction, Melissa McCarthy, who can be very funny with the right material, and two Saturday Night Live cast members Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones (before you criticise remember that Billy Murray and Dan Akroyd were both SNL alums too).
2. It's Got The Right Look
A lot of modern remakes of older films try to upgrade and update everything. Better special effects would be expected, but Ghostbusters fans need not worry that the new version will have a sleek modern, sleek look for the iconic car. Nope, they're keeping the aesthetic line with what we know and love.
Likewise, the proton packs remain pleasingly clunky and retro looking.
Altogether, the new behind-the-scenes snaps we've seen so far suggest that Feig and his crew are determined to get the look right.
3. Bill Murray Approves (As Do Most of the Original Cast)
Thus far, we know Bill Murray and (most of) the original cast approve of the new film. The upcoming remake will see cameo appearances from the Ghostbusters cast: Dan Akroyd, Eddie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Anne Potts have all (so far) confirmed their involvement in the film. The only former cast member to publicly confirm his refusal is Rick Moranis. He's in self-imposed acting retirement but was approached nonetheless, and his comments since have garnered quite a lot of traction in the media. The problem is, his headline comment - that the role "made no sense" to him has widely been interpreted as him saying the film itself "made no sense". Moranis actually said: "I wish them well. I hope it's terrific," but commented that doing one day of shooting for a role he already played decades ago "made no sense" (he also had negative comments to make about Ghostbusters II, unsurprisingly they weren't so widely reported).
Moranis doesn't seem to view the film negatively, and given the involvement of many of the original cast, it's safe to say they don't either. In particular, getting Murray on board is a boon for the film. Murray is not a man known for taking roles just for the money, and was a long-time holdout when Akroyd and Harold Ramis were trying to get Ghostbusters 3 made. He's gone on record as stating: "I like these girls a lot. I mean, I really do...and I feel really good about it."
If Murray is willing to take time out of his busy schedule of crashing weddings and generally just enjoying being Bill Murray to make this film, then he must have faith in it. And if he's excited about it, why shouldn't we be?
4. Women In The Lead Roles is an Exciting Change
Reading and hearing a lot of the hate reserved for this film that no one's even seen yet, I can't help but think that an often unspoken reason for the vitriol is that the main cast are women. I have to wonder, would the film be this despised if the likes of Chris Pratt and Jonah Hill were among the leads?
It just seems strange to me. You don't get this amount of hatred towards other remakes, or Jurassic World. Granted, the general reaction to Terminator Genisys was not good, but that was after everyone realised it was awful. Beforehand, there was a decent amount of goodwill towards it. The only real difference between this film and other reboots and remakes that receive, at best, support and at worst, ambivalence is the fact that the new Ghostbusters is led by women.
And what's wrong with that? There are plenty of films that feature women on the periphery, if at all; as love interests, as damsels in distress to be saved, or as characters that serve no narrative purpose at all. Ghostbusters will be an action comedy with four female leads, and it's brilliant to have a film that showcases women as characters, not tropes or stereotypes - even if it is saddening that in this day and age such a film gets looked down on.
I for one share Rick Moranis' hope that this film will be "terrific" and I think that so far the signs are good!