Ghostbusters (2016) **
Dir: Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Neil Casey
I had no issues (unlike some rabid fanboys) with a gender-bender reboot of the beloved Ghostbusters franchise which has been lying moribund for over quarter of a century in any case. In fact, the idea of Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig and company taking over from Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis, etc. was both timely and appealing. Combined with a director (Paul Feig) who has delivered very funny hits with both McCarthy and Wiig (Bridesmaids, Spy, The Heat) I was quite looking forward to Ghostbusters version 2.0.
But, alas, the movie is practically dead on arrival. McCarthy and Wiig can only do so much with a script (Feig is also a co-writer) that has practically no witty one-liners or any funny gags. Kate McKinnon, a gifted comedienne, has even worse material and Leslie Jone (also a funny lady) has a role which disappointingly plays to the worst stereotypes on occasion. Casting Chris Hemsworth as the prototypical dumb blonde (and carrying the gender-bending one step further) – he’s the personal assistant to our ghost hunting and malevolent spirit battling team – may sound hilarious on paper but it is a joke that just doesn’t work on screen and which just goes on for far too long. Even the cameos from the surviving original cast lack any sparkle.
Some of the special-effects are fine and you might find yourself chuckling here and there but this is mostly a dispiriting experience.
Cut to chase: This reincarnation of a beloved franchise has no spirit.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back ** ½
Dir: Edward Zwick
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh, Patrick Heusinger
Adapted mainly from the 18th of 21 (so far) Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is the second movie in what is clearly intended to be a long-running franchise. Tom Cruise is back as the titular character, an ex-U.S. Military Police Corps major, who goes around the country righting wrongs and beating up (often killing) bad guys. Cruise doesn’t exactly fit the description of Reacher in the novels (Child has him as a hulking 6 foot 5 inches) but he is up to the physical demands of the role and carries a certain appropriate world weariness in his eyes and a gruff Eastwoodian growl which suits the character well.
Reacher has been carrying on a slightly flirtatious relationship over the phone for a period of time with Army Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders, quite good) but never met her. Now he has to prove her innocence of when she is accused of treason. Reacher also has to figure out whether 15-year old Samantha (Danika Yarosh) is the daughter he never knew he had. This all leads up to the uncovering of the usual massive conspiracy and a predictable climactic showdown with an equally skilled and implacable foe (Patrick Heusinger).
All this is reasonably well done but there is nothing here which will surprise you or get your adrenaline pumping. This one is only really for die-hard Tom Cruise fans.
Cut to chase: Professionally done but nothing to make you sit up in your seat.
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Rating system: *Not on your life ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection