Okay… let me preface this with a couple disclaimers. One: this is not a personal attack, I’m not accusing James Rolfe or Cinemassacre of sexism, racism,… any kind of “ism” out here. I have never met him. In general, I like his videos (love Monster Madness, looking forward to that again this year). Two: there are much, much, more important things in the world than what one internet critic had to say (or not say) about a movie, and my reaction to those words. Please go to NPR, FiveThirtyEight, or a host of other sites to see what those are. Okay – cool, let’s talk about some silly stuff on the internet. Continue reading Silly Things on the Internet: Calling out Cinemassacre
So finally, the trailer for the new Ghostbusters is out! Here it is:
So far, the reaction has been… mixed. Some have loved the new trailer and celebrated it as an exciting new entry. Others have had a… different reaction. Well, it’s sparked debate – so that’s something the marketing department did right, I guess?
Let’s get into it.
Speaking from a personal standpoint as someone who has followed the development of this new Ghostbusters, this trailer is confusing. Look at how it starts, “30 years ago, four scientists saved the world…” or something like that. Oh cool, so it’s a sequel right?
Apparently not, no. In a recent interview regarding his new movie, Paul Feig confirmed that his Ghostbusters is a reboot(or remake, whatever the popular term is these days). He even went in-depth to explain his reasoning in avoiding a sequel. Agree or disagree, as director – he gets to make that call. Unfortunately, the people making the trailer must not have seen this interview.
This did the trailer no favors as audiences received an opening that promised a sequel and went into a lot of shots that frankly looked familiar. Remember this library opening from the original? This one:
Well, here it is again!
Three scientists coming together to fight ghosts?
An additional black Ghostbuster who is not initially part of the team (and probably not a scientist)?
Ghostbusters saving the city of New York from an apparent sudden ghost surge?
Well… okay that one isn’t fair. Every Ghostbusters movie should hopefully involve Ghostbusters fighting ghosts in some way. I would hope. Oh, but there’s also Slimer:
Point being, for a trailer that opens with the implication of sequel, there is a lot of retreading common ground. This likely goes a long way to explain at least some of the negative reaction. Personally, I think this addresses most of the fair criticism. The rest is subjective but probably a little reactionary.
“The jokes don’t work. The ghosts look CG (spoiler: they are). The writing sucks. The movie isn’t funny.”
Calm down – we’ve seen less than two minutes. Now, have I seen better trailers? I have. That being said, and this is again personal opinion, is too much emphasis being placed on the trailer rather than the team behind it?
Let’s look at another movie coming out soon: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. That film has trailers that are kinda all over the place. The first trailer offered an emotionally charged look at why Batman and Superman would fight. It didn’t get into too much plot, but provided a hook. The second trailer… likely told the entirety of the movie. Seriously, I don’t know for sure but I’m going to bet that after I see Batman v. Superman, I’m going to feel the same way.
That, in my opinion, was not a well put together piece of publicity. It suggested the unending need for more to satisfy the audience.
“Bored with Batman – we got Superman! Don’t like Superman – how about Doomsday? We also got Lex Luthor! Oh, here’s Wonder Woman! Justice League!!!!”
It cried a certain desperation that Batman and Superman are not interesting enough on their own.
But I am getting sidetracked. At the end of the day, Batman v. Superman is a movie made by Zack Snyder, a director with a… less than steady history (to put it objectively). Man of Steel, Sucker Punch, 300, Legend of the Guardians… Snyder does not have a consistent record when it comes to quality cinema.
Let’s look at Paul Feig, creator of Freaks and Geeks, Bridesmaids, the Heat, and Spy. While I have not seen the Heat (which has the lowest critical ranking of his recent films), that is a more impressive list to me. Spy was one of my favorite comedies of last year and has a trailer that looks:
Okay, I got it. Feig needs to hire some new trailer people.
It is strange to note that Snyder’s name is still being used for advertising, while Feig’s name is left off the Ghostbusters trailer.
Is there something more behind the seemingly incredibly malicious response to the trailer? Remember: people seem to love Star Wars: the Force Awakens, a sequel that had quite a few remake-ish similarities with a New Hope. I’m not going to get into it in this article – my short answer is I don’t know, maybe.
There are legitimate criticisms to be sure, and the most frightening possibility that the studio might be trying to interfere with the movie in a classic example of “wanting it both ways.” That would not bode well.
So is Ghostbusters a sequel or a reboot? Who knows. Hopefully it’s not both.
Is it going to be a good movie? Too early to tell. At the very least, it appears to be in good hands.
Here is a trailer for the original Ghostbusters for contrast:
So full of jokes!
On September 28th, 2014: the great crossover happened. The Simpsons and Family Guy, together for the first time ever on TV. Wow, what a historic night… or it would have been say fifteen years ago. However, as the fist five minutes of the crossover point out – these things do not happen out of any sort of creative drive or desire to combine comic genius. The Simpsons Guy is exactly what any cynic might dismiss it as – a cash grab, a marketing ploy to make long wayward viewers (like myself) sit down for one more episode. Yet I do not want to give a victory to the cynical masses out there, so I will defend the episode as best I can. Let me say upfront that it has been years since I have cared to watch a new episode of either The Simpsons or Family Guy.
Actually, the plot of the Simpsons Guy is rather clever… once the episode gets to it. Peter Griffin’s beloved Pawtucket Pat is found out to be nothing more than a shameless ripoff of Duff: the long-established Simpsons brand of beer. As a result, Duff sues Pawtucket Pat, with Peter Griffin stuck in Springfield acting as his company’s defense. As any audience member might guess, this problem leads to many comparisons between not just beer brands, but the two shows in general. It is a fitting scenario for Family Guy to make fun of itself, while still making the case for its own identity. The differing joke styles are stated quite clearly in the episode, perhaps there is no greater stark difference than in this clip:
The problem, plot-wise anyway, is that the episode takes too long to set up this conflict. There’s an unneeded opening fiasco of Peter becoming a cartoonist (it actually isn’t bad, but nor is it great) and then it feels that the episode drags when the two families are meeting for the first time. Both of this diversions do not allow the main conflict to generate the full humor it was capable of. Instead, the lawsuit feels very rushed. The slow plot and ’empty’ spaces of the episode draw attention to the main problem the Simpsons Guy has: it has no soul.
No soul means that there is no organic drive. Neither the Griffins nor the Simpsons feel like real families anymore. Instead they all feel like actors, lining up to do the same routines regardless of whether or not there is any comedy left in them. When both shows were at their peak, they contained scripts that made the audience able to relate to the characters. Homer was a well-meaning nincompoop, Peter was… well very similar. Marge and Lois were family first stay-at-home women who each had private hopes and dreams. Meg and Chris were troubled teens. Bart and Lisa were the polar opposite of preteen development. In short: they were written like real people.
It is sadly funny that cynics will dismiss this episode, because it was definitely written by them. There was a recent article, published by Salon, on the need to remove irony and snark from their dominant places in our culture. The Simpsons Guy is material proof that cynicism has gone too far. While a fan of both shows (at least in their heyday), neither The Simpsons or Family Guy belong on the air any longer, especially with far superior animated comedies like Bob’s Burgers and Rick and Morty coming into their own.
Was the Simpsons Guy worth watching… yes. If nothing else, it serves as a fond remembrance of what these shows used to be – while at the same time, proving that all good things do indeed come to an end.