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The Ghostbusters Episode

ghostbusters review

It’s time for a brand new podcast episode of Now Conspiring, and all sorts of things happened. We reviewed Ghostbusters, obviously, but we also found time to chat about some of the big movie news of the week.

Wondering what the deal is with those new Power Rangers posters? Confounded at the popularity of the gentleman’s smartphone game, Pokémon GO? Well, it’s time to conspire by listening to our conspiring.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK (and you’re required to answer this): If you could choose ONE film franchise to never be rebooted (or rebooted again), which would you choose?

Go on…The Ghostbusters Episode

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Review: The ‘Ghostbusters’ Reboot Suffers Most From Forced Nostalgia

ghostbusters review

2015 was a banner year for the “requel,” in that it boasted several largely successful sequel/remakes ranging from Mad Max and Jurassic World all the way to a new Star Wars.

Yet this year’s Ghostbusters is more akin to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, in that it reboots the lore of the previous films entirely by placing its hapless group of ghost hunters in NYC at the very beginning of their story. Despite this clean slate, though, the movie really doesn’t want you to forget that there was another Ghostbusters movie over 30 years ago.

The best gags come in the very early scenes, when it’s established that two former friends and paranormal scientists, Erin and Abby (played by Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy), reunite to help with a ghost problem in a local haunted house. They’re aided by Abby’s new engineer accomplice, Holtzmann (played by Kate McKinnon), who builds all the gear they use to subdue the CGI specters that have been unleashed all over town.

Later on, the “Ghostbusters” also recruit Kevin (played by Chris Hemsworth), a secretary with almost no other character traits aside from him being good looking and a total airhead, as well as Patty (played by Leslie Jones), a former MTA worker who lends the team knowledge over the historical nonfiction of New York, along with a new, sweet ride from her uncle’s funeral home.

ghostbusters review

It’s important to point out that this reboot works a lot harder than Ghostbusters 2 when it comes to rejuvenating what made the original 1984 film so endearing and an instant classic. But it does still contain a lot of the same story beats, because it is a reboot, after all. The idea of a mostly-female cast, however, is never quite used to its full potential, believe it or not, as a way to make this Ghostbusters feel like something all its own in comparison. For whatever reason, it’s nowhere near as smart as it probably should have been.

The main characters are still, for the most part, derivatives of the original cast, but with new actors who happen to be mostly women this time around. Granted, the comedic timing is a lot different as to be expected from a Paul Feig film (though Bridesmaids-level humor, this is not). Unfortunately, the majority of jokes read as some of the worst kinds of ad-libs you’d hear from an amateur improv group, rather than out of the mouths of SNL veterans, and a good number of the gags don’t extend far beyond the realm of generic slapstick and flatulence jokes.

In other words, this film won’t do any favors for harsher critics of last year’s Spy, for example, though that Paul Feig movie somewhat benefited from a more “uninhibited” McCarthy performance. Many of the jokes in Ghostbusters are surprisingly unfunny and ill-timed, many of them sounding like someone used the wrong punchline from another joke or bit.

ghostbusters review

And it’s not just the humor that feels a bit stifled and poorly executed. A good number of scenes were shoddily edited with very obvious cuts in the middle of humorous scenes that apparently didn’t translate well after shooting. There were plenty of moments when a scene would just end, without any sort of dialogue or transition you’d expect to be warranted.

The action, at times, is thrilling enough and benefitted by decent effects that let the movie go all out on its weird premise. To be fair, though, a lot of these action scenes are a lot longer than you’d want them to be, and it’s easy to find yourself getting quite bored as you wait for the ending, in no small part thanks to a weird lack of tension, even for a comedy.

The film is also distracted by its own overload of cameos and references to the original film, in a way that feels far too forced and hamstrung to carry any weight beyond, “Oh look! I know who that is!” Worse, the cast members they brought back for these cameos come off as positively bored and reluctant to even be here, save for Dan Ackroyd.

ghostbusters review

That said, the movie does have its funny, even engaging, moments, at least in the early goings. It’s hard not to be at least somewhat entertained by a Ghostbusters movie, after all, especially when you’re watching one with so many obvious callbacks to the movie you already love, as well as a funny joke once in a while. For a lot of people, though, these references and cameos will be painful reminders that they’d rather be watching the original Ghostbusters, instead.

To sum up, Ghostbusters is flashy, dumb, and shoddily made, which would be fine if it was at least consistently funny. And it lacks a basic fundamental of subtlety you didn’t know you expected from cheesy action comedies, in favor of forced nostalgia desperate to make billions of dollars out of a franchise. And even that’s been done to death already when it comes to Ghostbusters.

Grade: C-

Extra Credits:

  • There’s a lot more I want to say about this movie, both good and bad, which would be impossible without getting into spoilers. So if you’re interested a more substantial review, be sure to check out Monday’s podcast.
  • Dedicated to Harold Ramis. A nice touch, and well-appreciated by the fans in my theater.
  • Yes, there is a post-credits sequence that sets up more movies. And it’s about as cringeworthy as you’d expect.
  • According to Paul Feig, the original cut of this movie was over 4 hours long. And yeah, it shows.
  • Was there chemistry between the leads? Sometimes. But then you would have scenes where characters would start dancing for no reason, say something intended to be funny, and that would be the scene. I’m not sure if that’s chemistry or…anything.

 

‘Sicario’ & ‘The Intern’ Review; Which Classic Cartoon Needs a Gritty Reboot?

sicario review

This week on the podcast, we review two new films: the “war on drugs” action thriller, Sicario, and the Nancy Meyers feel-good comedy, The Intern. We also talk about new information coming out of Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, Drew Barrymore’s bombshell news about her acting career, and a lot more.

As always, we read your comments from last week and get down to business on this week’s discussion. Speaking of which…

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Which classic cartoon should get a gritty reboot?

Go on…‘Sicario’ & ‘The Intern’ Review; Which Classic Cartoon Needs a Gritty Reboot?

5 Compelling Reasons Why We Need Tobey Maguire To Return As Spider-Man

Spider-Man 2 is my favorite superhero film of all time. Anyone who’s been within earshot of me during any conversation about cinema in general should know this. I say it loud and unapologetically.

And it’s not only because Tobey Maguire will always be my default live-action version of Spider-Man (though that’s true too). It’s also because of Sam Raimi, and his distinct vision for Peter Parker.

tobey maguire spider-man

I hated the first Amazing Spider-Man, and I only barely liked The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Again, this actually has little to do with who was wearing the mask (most people agree that Andrew Garfield was at least fine, if not great in the role).

These movies just lacked the same depth and quality that we got with the first two Spider-Man movies in 2002 and 2004. And with Tobey Maguire getting on in years, it seemed like a great idea to just reboot the whole thing just five years after the disastrous Spider-Man 3.

tobey maguire spider-man

And now we have a new Spider-Man reboot on the horizon. Marvel and Sony have officially struck a deal to share the same version of this character within both Marvel and Sony’s cinematic universes.

It’s exciting news, but it also means Andrew Garfield is almost certainly done with the role, and we have to start all over again. Again.

I would have liked to keep Andrew Garfield in the mix, and there’s still a slim chance he might. But I would much rather we come back to Tobey Maguire, and here’s why.

1. It would be more faithful to “Civil War.”

tobey maguire spider-man

For what Marvel wants to use Spider-Man for, bringing Tobey Maguire back is actually perfect. Amidst reports that Marvel and Sony want to keep Spider-Man in high school, fans who actually read comics are getting frustrated.

We’ve experienced high school Peter twice now (seriously, I can’t handle Uncle Ben dying again), and Marvel is planning to debut the character in Captain AmericaCivil War.

One of the biggest reasons Marvel is bothering to make this deal (which they’re reportedly getting little financial value from) has to do with the fact that “Civil War” makes little sense without Peter Parker and Spider-Man.

Spider-Man’s role in “Civil War” is key because he’s the relatable center of conflict stuck between two people he respects. Its through Peter that we’re able to feel the real struggle between Captain America and Iron Man during their spat over privacy, a theme Marvel has been carefully building up with Phase II of the MCU.

And in “Civil War” (the comics version), Peter Parker isn’t in high school. He’s not even in college. He’s a high school science teacher years after first becoming the webhead.

That may seem like a little detail Marvel can just ignore, but it robs the story of a lot of the impact gained from when Spider-Man famously unmasked himself in public in order to support the Superhero Registration Act (and Tony Stark). But we’ll get to that later.

2. We haven’t finished Sam Raimi’s story. 

tobey maguire spider-man

Spider-Man 3 ended with the death of Harry Osborne, but we have no idea what truly became of Peter. He might have married Mary Jane, and the death of his friend could have prompted him to hang up his mask for a while.

This would explain his absence during the Battle of New York in The Avengers, which could then explain why he’d consider becoming Spider-Man again.

It could be during this time that he gains the attention of the Avengers during the prelude to Civil War, eventually leading to his famous unmasking to a public that’s known him as Spider-Man for years.

If they reboot the franchise again, then this moment won’t be nearly as powerful. Any new Spider-Man they throw in there will just be yet another actor we’re not used to.

How are we supposed to believe that the public cares about this Spider-Man if he hasn’t really been around much? Marvel could make it work because they’re Marvel, but it would be a missed opportunity.

3. The unmasking would be way more epic. 

tobey maguire spider-man

Can you imagine if the guy taking off his mask was Tobey Maguire, the guy who’s been Spider-Man in most of our heads for the last 13 years? And think about the impact of having JK Simmons reprise his role as J. Jonah Jameson and witnessing this from his office at the Daily Bugle. It’s just perfect.

And it even works within the Sam Raimi timeline because Maguire could easily be a science teacher by now. Unlike a new Spider-Man or bringing in Garfield, it actually fits.

Of course, this would sort of work for Garfield, too, but it still doesn’t fit quite as well. Unlike Garfield, Tobey’s Spider-Man is the Sam Raimi version. He’s the guy we’ve actually seen a consistent, compelling story arc with.

4. Tobey Maguire is a better Peter Parker than Andrew Garfield.

tobey maguire spider-man

Garfield did a great job, and he brought a faithful take to the character that Tobey could learn from. But Garfield was better at being Spider-Man than than being Peter Parker.

In contrast, Tobey Maguire nailed the character of Peter Parker. He was a lovable weirdo who never seemed comfortable in his own skin, unless he had the mask on. Garfield, by comparison, was never a believable outcast.

He spent most of his time charming Gwen Stacey and investigating something about his parents, or something. With Garfield, I just didn’t connect with him as Peter in the way I did with Maguire, which is a shame because, again, I had a great time watching him as Spider-Man.

5. Sony could still keep Garfield.

tobey maguire spider-man

Rumor has it Sony still wants to do Sinister Six and Venom. So my conspiracy theory of the week is that we could also see The Amazing Spider-Man 3 with Andrew Garfield still doing his thing, while Tobey returns to the fold with Marvel. Everyone wins, pretty much.

But this is less likely to happen if Sony invests in yet another reboot. While many fans probably won’t like this idea, I think it would be great fodder for the “multiverse” dimensions and realities we’ve been waiting for Marvel, Sony, and Fox to dole out with their scattered characters.

Before I go, I do want to point out that yes, I think it would be interesting to bring on Miles Morales, the half black, half latino version of Spider-Man from the Ultimate storyline.

tobey maguire spider-man

He’s a great character and would work great in his own movie, but I don’t think this is the right time and place for his story. If anything, it would make more sense to introduce him into the world already established by Marc Webb and Avi Arad.

Also, as big a fan as I am of Donald Glover, he’s just way too old at this point to be Miles Morales. Maybe in a different timeline, that’s not the case.

What do YOU think? Should Tobey stay or should he go?


Thanks for reading this. To get updates on my theories, books, and giveaways, join my mailing list.

Or just say hey on Twitter: @JonNegroni

 

If David Fincher Rebooted ‘Spider-man’

spider-man david fincher

A few years ago, David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven, Gone Girl) was one of a handful of directors considered for revamping the Spider-man franchise. Of course, Marc Webb was ultimately the final decision, but did you know that Fincher was also considered to launch the franchise back in 1999?

Though Sam Raimi did a brilliant job with at least two movies from that trilogy, a lot of people (like me) believe new blood would be a great start to rebooting Spider-man for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (you know, with the Avengers in the background).

Most of you already know that I despise 2011’s The Amazing Spider-man and moderately enjoyed this past year’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. That said, I still think a new Spider-man franchise is worth exploring, whether it conserve Andrew Garfield or toss him.

Back to David Fincher. If he was the man behind the camera behind the cowl, we already know some of his vision for telling Peter Parker’s story. Here’s an excerpt from a 2011 interview he did concerning the last Spider-man reboot:

My impression what Spider-Man could be is very different from what Sam [Raimi] did or what Sam wanted to do. I think the reason he directed that movie was because he wanted to do the Marvel comic superhero. I was never interested in the genesis story. I couldn’t get past a guy getting bit by a red and blue spider. It was just a problem… It was not something that I felt I could do straight-faced. I wanted to start with Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin, and I wanted to kill Gwen Stacy.

The title sequence of the movie that I was going to do was going to be a ten minute — basically a music video, an opera, which was going to be the one shot that took you through the entire Peter Parker [backstory]. Bit by a radio-active spider, the death of Uncle Ben, the loss of Mary Jane, and [then the movie] was going to begin with Peter meeting Gwen Stacy. It was a very different thing, it wasn’t the teenager story. It was much more of the guy who’s settled into being a freak.

Sounds a lot like the beginning of Spider-man 2 (2004) right? Only it would be ten minutes long and resemble more of an opera than comic book pages.

I doubt Fincher will ever be taking on Spider-man anytime soon, though it would be crazy for his first superhero film to be about the webhead. For now, we just have to assume that Marc Webb and Avi Arad still hold all the cards to Spidey’s future.

Fantastic Four Reboot Will Reimagine Doctor Doom as an Internet Troll

dr doom fantastic four reboot

 Sean O’Neal | AV Club

Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four has already promised a more “gritty, grounded” approach to fantasticness, a tone Fox’s comic-book movie hopes to achieve by staying away from the sort of outlandish stories one might find in comic books. In keeping with that, certain adjustments must be made to the characters themselves, giving them new origin stories, making them younger and hotter—and therefore more believable as scientists—and, in the case of villain Doctor Doom, updating them to a more contemporary version of evil.

For example, the old Doctor Doom was the gypsy son of a witch and medicine man who wielded sorcery and science as the ruler of the fictional nation of Latveria. He was a man of unparalleled arrogance who used his skills only to threaten the world. So obviously, in the modern parallel, he’s an asshole on the Internet.

You can’t make this stuff up. Unless you’re Fox, that is.

15 Movies That Could Make 2015 The Best Year Ever

Pop Quiz: What’s the most anticipated movie of 2015?

BUZZER

The answer is too many. See, 2015 is shaping up to be a big (and I mean big) year for movies, and the list just keeps growing.

Below are just the 15 we know about: (in no particular order)

15. Mockingjay (Part 2)

The story so far is that the final movie in the “Hunger Games” franchise will be a two-parter. Because hey, if it worked for Harry Potter, then it works for Katniss (Catness).

14. Superman/Batman (Working Title)

The world’s finest are officially teaming up in 2015. I’m sick of talking about it too.

13. Warcraft


Based on the video game responsible for ending millions of relationships, Warcraft is currently in pre-production and has been announced as a 2015 title. I’m skeptical on whether or not this will translate well to film, but the lore is definitely rich enough to craft (unintended pun) an immersive fantasy film.

12. Avengers: Age of Ultron


Like I said, it’s going to be a big year.

11. Pixar’s “Inside Out”


I know what you’re thinking. Of course the Pixar Theory guy brings this up. Well leave me alone! You know you want this too. Besides one other movie, this is the only non-sequel we know Pixar is working on and the concept is awesome and original.

It’s apparently about an amazing world that exists within the mind of a 12-year-old girl, who is probably Boo fingers crossed.

10. Assassin’s Creed


Even non-gamers have probably heard about this (maybe?), so I have high hopes for Hollywood’s next attempt at nailing a video-game adaptation. What they’ve got going for them so far is Michael Fassbender on the cast, but we don’t yet know how they’re going to handle the story.

All we know for sure is that Desmond and the Animus will be the driving force of the plot, which is unfortunate. That was easily the weakest aspect of the games, at least later on, but I understand why they want to run with this interesting premise of a man living as his ancestors and getting wasted with Leonardo DaVinci.

9. Peanuts


Maybe it’s just the nostalgia talking, but I’m weirdly excited about this. It’s in 3D so it will probably make the TV movies look like District 9 (I’m bad at comparisons), but the Peanuts characters definitely deserve to finally hit the big screen.

8. Star Wars Episode VII


I’m pretty sure I could just stop the list here…

7. Ant-Man


This will be the “other” Marvel movie coming out in 2015, but don’t expect it to get lost in the shuffle. It will be coming out in November, a month usually devoid of superhero action, and will be directed Edgar Wright

But Jon, who is Edgar Wright and why should I care?

Well inner dialogue, Edgar Wright has directed multiple movies and cult classics, such as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and the recent film, The World’s End. We like this guy, basically.

Thanks Jon. 

Um…you’re welcome.

I love you.

6. Mission Impossible 5


Before Ghost Protocol, a sequel to the now 20-year-old Mission Impossible franchise wouldn’t have caused much excitement. But now we know just how good these spy thrillers can be, so let’s hope Ethan Hunt’s next outing lives up to the last.

5. Finding Dory


Technically, Dory has already been found (in our hearts), but that doesn’t mean the Finding Nemo movie will fail to make millions cashing in on our love for aquatic mayhem and feels.

4. Bond 24


The follow-up to Skyfall, considered to be one of the best Bond films of all time, will also be vying for our attention come 2015. Daniel Craig is set to reprise his role and Sam Mendes will also be returning as director.

The pressure is surely on, as the duo must be able to live up to the success of Skyfall, which may not be easily done.

3. Pitch Perfect 2


I could just say, “Enough said.” and many of you would nod at your computer screens and proceed to scroll to #2. Unfortunately, there are people who haven’t watched this movie, which means there are people who don’t like this movie.

Yes, I am one of those moviegoers that was forced to see this movie by attractive females and then walked out loving it. It was more funny than cheesy, although barely, and it has really picked up a rabid following thanks to word-of-mouth and meme culture. I’m expecting the sequel to make a bigger splash.

Also: Fat Amy.

2. Terminator (Reboot)


I only care because Arnold has personally announced his involvement, though I’m taking that news with a grain of salt. Though I’ve never been much of a Terminator fan in the past, I don’t doubt this will be a big deal in 2015.

1. Jurassic Park 4


Look, I’m not going to BS you guys. Dinosaur Island 4 wasn’t even on my list 10 minutes ago, Avatar 2 was. Then someone approached me and said in a 1920’s voice, “HOLD THE PRESSES, SEE! AVATAR 2 COMING OUT IN 2016, SEE! READ ALL ABOUT IT!” Then he threw an iPad at me.

So I panicked because 15 is a cooler number than 14, so I scavenged the depths of the internet to find another movie coming out. It was between Pirates of the Caribbean 5Independence Day 2 and a new take on Cinderella, so feel appreciative.

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