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From Under A Rock: Ghostbusters

July 16, 2016 | Posted by Michael Ornelas
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From Under A Rock: Ghostbusters  


Without this week’s pick, people wouldn’t be in such an uproar over its remake (out today)! Aaron hadn’t seen it before and while it’s a classic that I could never get into, I still like the movie (is that a crime to admit?)…so I figured it was as good a time as any to pick for Aaron and I to review!

You only get one first time, and for some people, it comes later than it does for others. This particular column is about documenting the first viewing of a “classic” movie or TV show determined at the discretion of Aaron Hubbard and Michael Ornelas in alternation.

Last week Aaron bent the elements to show Michael The Legend of Korra. This week Michael takes Aaron out from under the proverbial rock for Ghostbusters.

Released: June 8th, 1984
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Written by: Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis
Bill Murray as Peter Venkman
Dan Aykroyd as Raymond Stantz
Harold Ramis as Egon Spengler
Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore
Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett
Rick Moranis as Louis Tully

Michael Ornelas: Like I said above, I like this film but I don’t love it. That has been a trend for me with cult classics that I don’t tend to see until adulthood. I watched this for the first time probably four or five years ago. That said, it’s a huge movie from a cultural standpoint and more relevant than ever right now given the reboot’s release.

Aaron Hubbard: I think it’s fine to just “like” a classic movie. Not every movie is for everyone, but good movies are usually enjoyable anyway. Such was the case with Ghostbusters.
Four Personalities as Big as Stay Puft
Michael: This movie excels in its character building. They took an archetype (science nerd) and made four characters who play that in occupation only, then made them all different from one another. It’s harder than it sounds because the type of person you’d expect to be a Ghostbuster carries a certain amount of stereotyping, and when you put Egon Spengler up against Peter Venkman, or Ray up against Winston…they’re night and day comparisons. It’s what makes the movie work and hold up so well.

Aaron: The characters of the Ghostbusters are definitely fleshed out and distinct, and they bounce off of one other very well. Bill Murray’s Venkman is probably the standout, but Stantz and Spengler provide a necessary balance by not being such abrasive jerks. I wish we had a little bit more of Ray, as he is the one who feels most like an everyman instead of a science nerd. But I also have to give props to the supporting cast: Weaver, Moranis, and Atherton are all great in their smaller roles.

Michael: I mentioned it to you privately that I actually think it’s off-putting to see Sigourney Weaver in a “damsel in distress” role, and that’s what we had here. It’s nice to see her play different parts, but that’s also I type I can do without in movies. That said, she still seemed pretty well-defined, so it’s hard to complain. Moranis has a direct line to my funny bone and Atherton is one of my guiltiest pleasures: Bio-Dome.
Science vs. Superstition
Aaron: It may be tough to get into this mindset in 2016, but Ghostbusters was a very fresh take on supernatural movies when it was released. Yes, the idea of exorcists that are also exterminators is clever, but the implications of that difference are really cool. Compare this film to The Exorcist for example: in that movie, the solution to getting rid of a spirit is a religious ritual performed by a trained expert. In Ghostbusters, the solution is a machine made by scientists. This film is science vs. superstition and science came, saw, and kicked ass. But it isn’t in your face about it; it’s more subliminal, and I think that elevates the movie for me.

Michael: So essentially, science is Brock Lesnar. Dope! I agree with all that though, and it’s a very interesting take/observation to make about this film. I think it’s definitely a relevant message as I feel religion has become a very divisive topic in our country and public sphere in general. I think that, despite you labeling it “vs.” and “science winning”, it’s entirely possible for the two factions to coexist, but it’s all about finding a balance. I don’t know if that’s an intentional theme of the movie (as the ghosts do in fact get busted), but I feel like there’s something to that idea.

Aaron: Well there is some coexistence; the Ghostbusters obviously believe in the supernatural, and Winston likes Jesus’ style. The more important thing is that while the acknowledge the existence, they aren’t afraid of it. After all, they have the tools to defeat it, and even an outsider like Ray learns how to use it easily. I think this is also ties into the main reason kids love Ghostbusters; fear of ghosts and monsters is their everyday life, but these guys invented weapons that anyone can use. It’s reassuring.
Dated Effects
Michael: The one place where this movie falls way short is the visual effects. In 1984, I’m sure they were amazing but all the computer-generated images are truly awful. The monsters that are there practically look much better, but it’s tough to have those when the movie is about ghosts and thus need to be transparent (and therefore digitally created). Even Sigourney Weaver when she’s inhabited by Zuul looks more silly than anything else in her costume. 32 years later, it takes me out of the movie quite a bit because I’ve seen better. The sequence where the street breaks apart and everyone’s freaking out as the car goes down the sinkhole…it was very underwhelming. It was mechanical and sequential in a way that was obviously fake and was probably the worst moment in the movie for me, visually speaking.

Aaron: I tend not to discuss visual effects on older films unless they are truly spectacular (Alien for example) because it’s just part of film history. Effects change over time. Are the claymation models in King Kong or the green screen effects in Superman convincing? Not really. But they were great for their time. I also thought the energy beams held up surprisingly well.

Michael: It’s not all bad, but to me it’s part of why reboots, remakes, and sequels are personally appreciated. Hell, even dating back to Cecil B. DeMille’s The 10 Commandments, he wanted to remake it once technology caught up to his vision for the movie. I fully condone reimaginings because they allow for updates. Movies don’t get “ruined” like some might say when a remake happens. You’ll always have the original and can just watch that if you feel so passionately about it. The only movie that has truly gotten ruined is Star Wars because we still don’t have an untampered blu-ray version of the original trilogy.

Aaron: Ghostbusters is a great concept with excellent execution. The characters are great, the mix of genres is unique, and the themes are subtle yet empowering. I feel like I will enjoy it more over time.


Michael: Memorable characters, classic status, and Bill Murray should be enough to put this movie in the top tier of movies reviewed here on From Under A Rock, but for some reason I still just can’t fully back it. It just misses the mark with me, and this is the fourth time I’ve seen it. I’ve maintained that opinion every time so my rating can’t go any higher than this.


Aaron: Oh, and lest I forget; that theme song is one of the best pieces of movie music ever produced.

Michael: This is better though:

Does bustin’ make you feel good?

Next week:

Aaron: Man, I am so excited to review this next film with you. It was the greatest comic book movie of all-time for a good four year stretch before The Dark Knight arrived, and I would argue that it laid the groundwork for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Michael: I remember seeing trailers back in the day and wanting to see it, but I was also never really a fan of comic book movies so it didn’t become a priority. I’ve seen the first one a couple times and will likely rewatch it before checking this one out. I’m pumped for it!

Aaron: I loved the first two as a teenager, but my fondness for them has grown to genuine respect in my adulthood. I love these movies.

What is your favorite Spider-Man movie or TV show?

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Check out our past reviews!
Mission: Impossible, They Live, Marvel’s Daredevil, The Silence of the Lambs, 12 Angry Men, The Usual Suspects, The Boondock Saints, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Iron Giant, Fargo, American Psycho, 28 Days Later, Frankenstein, Crank, The Godfather: Part II, American Beauty, Rocky, Alien, Spaceballs, Star Wars: Clone Wars, The Muppets Christmas Carol, Reservoir Dogs, Superman: The Movie, Lethal Weapon, Double Indemnity, Groundhog Day, The Departed, Breaking Bad, Shane, Glengarry Glen Ross, Blue Ruin, Office Space, The Batman Superman Movie: World’s Finest, Drive, Memoirs of a Geisha, Let the Right One In, Apocalypse Now, Aliens, The Incredible Hulk, A Clockwork Orange, Chicago, Seven, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, The Room, Chinatown, Jaws, Unforgiven, RoboCop, The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air, Ghostbusters

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The final score: review Good
The 411
Ghostbusters is one of those unique transcendent films that leaves an impact on pop culture that lasts for years. It practically invented a new genre by mixing comedy with sci-fi adventure and supernatural thrillers, providing a wholly original experience. Even 32 years later, it still feels fresh and new, despite some dated visual effects. If you don't love it, chances are you will at least like it.