Specifically because of the ~feminine energy~ it brought to the table
“Anti-Irish security fence” “The exact moment P.T. Barnum came up with the idea to enslave elephants” The movie hits the ground running and never lets up. There’s a queef joke and very pointed and conscious humor about anti-black racism. Yes, I’m giving it brownie points for having a social/political edge to the humor. No, I don’t care how “unfair” it is. That’s actually part and parcel of what makes the movie work and what saved it from the impossible pitfalls of being a new Ghostbusters. The original Ghostbusters, as has been pointed out many different ways by many other people, wasn’t a franchise at all. We didn’t come for the ghostbusting lore, we came to watch Bill Murray and all the best comedians of the 80s at the peak of their careers just shooting the shit and riffing on each other. A new Ghostbusters isn’t *Ghostbusters*, and wouldn’t have the strength and freedom to stand on its own, if it wasn’t unapologetically its own thing.
The movie is *nerdy as hell*, and I love it. The original movie had Impressive-Sounding Science Speak(TM), but it held the science above even the heads of the audience as that rareified space where only The Smartest Of Guys can navigate. The new one has the three white wimmin geeking out — *geeking out* — over particle physics and proton pack engineering the way Star Wars fans would geek out over assembling a real-life lightsaber and optimizing the design. The movie expects you to be able to keep up because come on, we read reddit and worship Neil deGrasse Tyson nowadays, of course we’re going to be caught up on Faraday Cages and why it’s the most bling-as-shit addition to the new model. One of our heroines lusts after a sub-brainless hunk of man-meat, another makes fart jokes and bitches about Chinese wonton portions, and a third is a punk rock anarcho fae spirit of chaos who builds things with equal parts pyromania and gearhead brute force.
They get to *own* the scientific knowledge (greater knowledge and fluency with science than the heroes of the original, quite frankly), the gear, the engineering and self-reliant modding/repair, the works; because they’re *geeks*, not because it’s so Progressive and Moral of us to hand them the keys to the kingdom. All three of them eat, breathe, and sleep advanced physics and engineering more fluently than I even would with a Ph.D, I think. None of them are the least bit Intellectual or superior about it.
Oh, there is one who does with his knowledge, but he’s the neckbeard villain of the movie who represents the Goddamn Patriarchy. (As does the mayor, who assists our heroines.
It’s complicated It’s literally the way the Goddamn Patriarchy works in real life.)
The fourth team member enters the movie and the team with far more agency and equality here than in the original. This is an important point, and this is a thing this movie does better than the original. She’s a Metro Transit Authority employee who brings her knowledge of and connections within the city to this group of science nerds who can’t even keep it together enough to remember to procure a car. While she doesn’t have the formal higher education in the sciences to follow the nerd-out conversations as fluently as her three team members do, this is presented not as an inferiority in intelligence but a difference in language. She’s still the most organized and professional member of the team, and she gets to bring unique and relevant knowledge to bear that the other three are missing just as much as her lack of training in graduate-level physics.
Oh yeah, the movie *tears ass* at a breakneck pace and gets us set up and into the action far more quickly than the original did. This is also a good thing. The movie has a great sense of what is and is not necessary to cover in a reboot. It’s sort of the entire opposite of what Red Letter Media pointed out as the fundamental flaws of the prequel trilogy. It wastes no time on world-building that is not relevant to the forward motion of an engaging story; it includes callbacks to just about every element of the original, but without any pandering or break in the pacing of the movie at all. Every scene and development follows on the last, every utterance of “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts” etc flows completely organically from the way the movie is set up and moves. There is no wasted space here. It’s brilliant.
Is it an action comedy? I think it counts as an action comedy. It does that old school Hong Kong kung fu movie thing where you show the same impact from several different angles to give the brain time to receive and feel what is happening, and give more force to it. Holtzmann is just a joy for the soul to watch. I feel like the humor of the original, even the body language, was more of an “intellectual” punchline style humor. All the jokes are brilliant, but because they’re showing off how intelligent and brilliant the victor of the joke is. Holtzmann is the anarchic Pinkie Pie of the movie because it’s just funny and life-giving watching her *be who she is*. Just her psychotic glee over MacGyvering new gear is a delight to watch. There’s a scene where she introduces the team to specialized proton weapons for each member, and it has a very strong (and very wonderful) Ratchet & Clank vibe to it. Then there’s the part where once we’ve gotten to the point where they’re geared up and ready to fight, the action kicks motherfucking ass like few other action movies Hollywood has made recently, and draws no hard ghetto divisions between the action and the comedy like even Guardians of the Galaxy did.
Holtzmann gets a slow-motion sequence of ultimate bad-assery during the big old spectacle fight, and it’s still a comedic scene just because it’s Holtzmann, wild and free as the Leviathan. There’s a reason she’s going to be the cosplay fan favorite of the movie for years to come.
One review I liked of the movie talked about how much friendship is core to the movie. Erin and Abby are lifelong friends, and their interactions and banter reflect that perfectly. Even though Erin is upset at the beginning of the movie at having her tenure threatened by her presence on Amazon with a book about ghosts, she quickly starts geeking the *fuck* out over the things that matter to the core of who she is as a person. Real live ghosts, and high octane nuclear engineering! Holy fucking shit! It’s basically Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie…and Wakko Warner, and Patty, sciencing the shit out of the supernatural and saving New York City from the undead.
Another thing I really loved was the bait and switch of the iconic Ghostbusters building. You have the firehouse, the iconic door, the space and the fireman’s pole and everything. And then the bill: $21,000. A month. Cut to the next shot where they’re holed up above the Chinese restaurant. Just the real human sympathy of recognizing how much shit 99% of us have trying to find housing of any kind in this market, combined with how much shit they have to deal with the rest of the movie, makes that return to the iconic building at the end a cathartic reward for real work done by real people. It’s just such a perfect poetic stroke of verisimilitude in just the right place and timing.
Despite the fact that the original movie’s strengths had nothing to do with the franchise elements and everything to do with contemporary comedians pooling their talents into one big fun project, the Ghostbusters story has stuck with us this long through the sheer mimetic strength of every one of its elements. I did not think about it until I saw the callbacks in the new movie, how much every little thing from the melody of the main theme and the sound of its lyrics, to the visual design of everything Ghostbusters, is such perfectly iconic, eminently replicable pieces of art and culture that live far beyond the memory of Bill Murray’s sublime performance and all the grotesque failures of every subsequent entry in the franchise (barring the 80s Saturday Morning Cartoon Show) (I’m going to say out of sheer nostalgic bias) My brother never even saw the original movie until whichever anniversary had YouTube airing the full movie for free, and the strength of the song and the concept was still enough to make us fans long enough to watch during that anniversary and to be interested in this new one. It’s sort of like, the original built these perfect Legos and the new one is the insanely talented fans decades later who are building life-size and highly detailed art with the Legos. The women characters bring so much energy and joy and life, they’re spazzing out over the firehouse location during that scene as human beings ecstatic over such a gigantic living space but also as meta-level love for the original movie. There’s no competition and comparison, just heritage and justice.