Lame, leaden and witless, the Ghostbusters reboot fails not because it is years too late but because the comedic camaraderie that made the original so successful is so singularly lacking.
And whereas the key 80s trio of Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and the late Harold Ramis slid smoothly in on the back of subversive Saturday Night Live anarchy, new quartet Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon can only bump off one another. Their various styles and personalities simply fail to gel.
The energy that drove Bridesmaids (another ensemble piece directed by Paul Feig) is never evident. Instead there is a clumsy coming-together of old pals Erin and Abby (Wiig and McCarthy), the introduction of nerdy science genius Jillian (McKinnon) and a welcoming for blue-collar enthusiast Patty (Jones).
Behind the references and star cameos is a barely-there plot about to unleash an army of souls on New York City. Rowan (Neil Casey) plans to create a vortex and destroy mankind. Low on laughs but high on CGI, Ghostbusters shows what can be achieved with 21st century visual effects. But there is also a lazy over reliance on links to the past.
Some of the spectres are genuinely creepy and a confrontation with legions of the dead in Times Square boasts moments of real dread. However it’s weakened by the involvement of Chris Hemsworth (as the girls’ dimbulb receptionist) as the chief villain temporarily possesses him.Fans of the original will enjoy seeing Aykroyd, Murray, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver providing guest spots, but they’re not needed. “Let’s do this!” says one character. No. Don’t. Ever again.