Friday, 18 January 2019

3 Ghostbusters


Greetings, Ghostwatchers!

I have a theory. Overall quality is measured by complexity of coding. An admittedly simplistic view, perhaps, but if true, one potential reason why some of us have such megalithic aversions to even the barest of spoilers, ahead of our latest, upcoming, un-screened installment, marked on the calendar in red felt pen.

It tends to be far more enjoyable deciphering a puzzle, than purely being shown its answer with no reasoning. Merely stating, "[Character] dies in the end." arguably isn't nearly as interesting as the full, unfolding plot of [redacted], and that's why it's such a great film (and now, you'll never know what film I'm talking about, spoiler-phobes).

I make no secret of the fact that I really, really like Ghostbusters, even just as a concept. I fondly remember, as a family, us watching the film twice, back-to-back, in the same evening, following its inaugural renting from, 321 Video, now long-gone, just up the road I grew up on.

So young was I at the time, that I unthinkingly assumed the film was an adaptation of my then-favourite 'Real' cartoon show. It didn't take long for those characters to become fully integrated and ingrained in my memory. Underdogs through and through, the eclectic quartet were consistently true to their unique fascinations and bizarre studies. To this day, I remain surprised whenever the "Every movie has a deeper meaning, except Ghostbusters..." theory rears its head. I always took the film's message to be a cautionary tale; akin to not judging books by their covers. Simple and straightforward enough, and with a good heart, at that.

I must also conversely admit to somewhat of an ambivalence regarding the most recent entry into the film series. Despite not having a considerable amount of time for that trailer, which unavoidably proton-charged my very first click of YouTube's dislike button, I do recall on finally watching the reboot, one noteworthy and memorable scene, where our new characters gathered round a workstation and asked each other how and why they each got into the bustin' business. Erin then proceeds to explain how, as a youngster, only one other, there-present at the table, took the time to believe her wild accounts of being visited by an inexplicable spectre, and therein a forever friendship was born. Such potential, I felt, alongside equal disappointment, in that the film never seemed to gain the traction it sorely needed, despite such hidden strengths.

Given the reported, sequel-crushing budgetary issues of, Answer The Call, that I naturally expected, what I had longed to experience for the best part of three decades, would likely never happen. I know it's asking a lot, and there are a billion reasons why any given project might have trouble getting off the ground, but I just hoped to see those 80s heroes shine, once again. And their proton packs. And their Ectomobile. The constituent elements, and resulting cosmic alignment of Ghostbusters seems so rare and precious, the combined entity simply deserves to break free from its containment unit, and willfully slime cinema screens for years to come.


The differences in my coding theory between yesterday's masterful teaser for Jason Reitman's upcoming installment, and its recent predecessor are striking. Firstly, consider the most frustrating aspect of ATC's notoriously-divisive announcement trail; so ostensibly muddled was that narrative's direction, that its marketing seemed to require the shoehorning of title cards to, albeit, establish the unexpected hard break from continuity. The subtle, piano-led recap of Ray Parker Jr.'s rightfully-classic, crowd-pleaser, was a lovely touch in principle, but ultimately did little but remind what had come before, and how that material had regrettably become confined to the archives.

This time, we are similarly treated to a brief sample of Elmer Bernstein's exquisitely timeless orchestral soundtrack; in fact the very first piece of music ever heard in Ghostbusters history.

It seems, we're going back to the very beginning; an era when the term, 'spooky' felt no better personified than the music video for Michael Jackson's, Thriller. If there is one thing missing from this trailer, it's the lonely call of either a hooting owl, or howling coyote; both, I'm sure, would have been just as welcome. Wait... there is a hooting owl?! This... trailer... is... great. When can we move in? You gotta try this pole. I'm gonna get my stuff..!

The sound design as experienced during these fifty-odd seconds, is wonderful. Inexplicably more humourous, to my ears at least, when listened to on headphones, the resulting mental image of somebody (well, surely Ray - as in, when Dana Barrett first visits the firehouse, in the original) ratcheting the rusty gubbins of an unlicensed nuclear accelerator by way of a trusty socket spanner, while lightning bolts of protonic neutrona energy blast out in coughs and sputters, effortlessly evokes the ambitious, reckless abandon that I posit helped engender the mere premise of Ghostbusters to audiences, so long ago. Said misfiring proton pack SFX sounds ever-bassy, with heavy, grinding reverb, at times - as my fandom recalls, an expanded request made by director, Ivan Reitman, during the making of the first film.

Not impressive enough, unless otherwise masterfully-composited, this trailer appears composed of only two shots. Two. First, we have the establishing wide of the barn, beside the beautifully lit, balding branches of a pair of venerable trees. Above, a swirling sky portal, reminiscent of a similar anomaly once seen hanging over Spook Central, and later, much of NYC in the sequel. This is shortly followed by a tracking shot (possibly steady-cam, or more likely crane) leading into the spooky interior space, itself. What looks to be practical lighting FX can then be seen in sporadic flashes, bolstered by just enough added CG to intrigue. Visually bolstering the cosy nostalgia, there appears to be just a touch of Doc Brown added to the proceedings; with everyone's favourite Ectomobile loosely shrouded, just as the DeLorean in... I think, The French Connection, was that film's title.

I suppose the tone of this scene is what emboldens my expectations most. As a fan, it would be easy to project supremely-happy endings for our beloved protectors, following GB2. Professor Stantz, Senator Zeddemore, President Venkman. The thing is, we always knew that our characters were somewhat eccentric, and to date, have seen little impetus for them to change their comfortable habits.

What if things haven't turned out phenomenally for Ray, for instance? Assuming this is him tinkering, his garage-barn doesn't look to be in the best of shape. Maybe, he couldn't keep up with Peter's negotiated mortgage rates for his parents' house (at nineteen-percent, he didn't even bargain with the guy..!). Neither does Ecto-1, which given the rust on its sills, could certainly do with a spruce-up, too. Are we about to see entirely-new iterations of the character(s)? Could only a new group of fresh, eager minds ably remind them why they got into business for themselves, all those years ago?

Lots to think about, and overall, supremely encouraging, indeed. Stars, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson have already suggested their involvement by way of a tweet, apiece. If the boys are taking requests, I certainly hope that there is a perfectly-polished space reserved in the screenplay each for the truly delightful Annie Potts, and Rick Moranis, respectively. Equally-mandatory appearances from Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver and Peter MacNicol would also be hugely appreciated by all. I'm sure, plans are no doubt afoot to appropriately honour the late great Harold Ramis, as his character's potential passing would undoubtedly generate as much in-story heartache, as his untimely own, in reality. Also, purely selfishly, a new merchandise line, including a full-size replica proton pack, crucially available to pick up in the UK, would be my final rub of the lamp.

Wow, just think. In less than two years, Stantz, Zeddemore and Co. shall be returning to the silver screen. What was taking them so long? In any event, I'm as grateful as I am glad to hear it.

Until next time, Ghostwatchers... try not to have sleepless nights.

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