Ghostbusters

Finally! After years of rumors and script rewrites it has arrived. Ghostbusters directed by Paul Feig. I have waited for years for this to become a reality and now that it has I can confidently say, it was worth the wait and then some. We all know the basic story. Three white scientists and a black person fight ghosts in New York. Based on the 1984 classic, this new entry in the franchise honors that legacy. A top notch cast of some of the funniest ladies in the industry today. Spectacular special effects and a great story. I had my doubts when I heard of the new female cast, but when I saw the trailers I warmed to it as I saw where it was headed and tonight after having seen the final product, I am so happy to see that everything came together splendidly. It wasn’t what I was expecting, and that is a very good thing. Perfect? No, there are some chinks in this armor, but as a whole the movie was one of the few films anymore that gave me ‘good film afterglow’. I laughed and I was totally into it. I have loved all of Mr. Feig’s films so far and this one is no exception. I was a bit worried with him having to pull back to do a PG-13 movie, but he did not disappoint. Melissa McCarthy was, as expected, unforgettable. She was able to keep the humor flowing as well as the story. Kristen Wiig also brought her A-game as well. I’ve seen her in comedies and drama and everything in between and she never disappoints. I am more familiar with Kate Mckinnon and Leslie Jones from Saturday Night Live and they definitely deserve the lion’s share of credit for this one as well. Kate was a scene stealer with her crazy eyes and nutball character and Ms. Jones complimented the quartet nicely and brought some hardcore humor to the whole movie. Top that all off with Chris Hemsworth as their receptionist and I’m in heaven. Honestly, isn’t he just wonderful to just look at? He’s also laugh out loud funny to boot. MARRY ME!

The cameos of the cast from the original film were brilliant and did not overshadow the film. It was great to see them all again. I had heard that Bill Murray had said he would have ┬áhad nothing to do with this film if he didn’t like the script, so I can see that by the size of his part, he must have loved what he read. Honestly, he probably has more screen time than any of the other cameos. I can’t sell this movie enough. It was just flat out great! I saw it in IMAX 3-D (recommended) and I may just get out there and see it again before it comes to Blu-Ray, at which point I will buy it and enjoy a double feature.

One word of warning however, don’t go in ready to compare this to the original film. This is its own creature entirely. I found myself drawing parallels early on, but then I stopped myself and was reminded that this isn’t the original film and it’s not trying to be. It is a fresh interpretation and it succeeds on every level. I can’t advise this movie enough. Go see it and be sure to stay through the credits. There is a last bit at the very end you can NOT miss! Not kidding!

Audience: And the movie keeps getting better. Since my friend and I went to a Thursday night screening, there weren’t a lot of folks in the theater and it was a good, quiet crowd, save for the laughing, but I can allow that. Every aspect of this movie going experience was aces. Great night. Have one for yourself.

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The BFG

I have never read the original book, ‘The BFG’, by Roald Dahl. In fact this has been the first time in my life I ever heard of the story. When I saw the trailer I was surprised to see the merger of Spielberg and Disney. I wasn’t even sure if I was ever going to see the movie, but I did and I was pleasantly surprised. The film opens on a quaint, visually rich London that exists only in books and movies. A London I would be happy to be an orphan in. We get a small glimpse into the life of our heroine, the orphan Sophie. She’s a smart girl who falls outside the lines of the others. I like her already. When the Friendly Giant makes his appearance, it’s almost surreal how seamless he fits into the world and it makes you really think this could be a thing. He cleverly hides in the shadows and between buildings. His skill with his subterfuge shows he’s been at this for a looooong time. When Sophie witnesses him, he snatches her away and whisks her to ‘Giant Country’ and a new world opens up before her. She, along with us, sees amazing things in this new world that feels as familiar as our own. It all seems great until the other, larger, giants make themselves known and they aren’t quite as friendly as The BFG. Now it’s up to Sophie and The BFG to figure out a way to get be free of their torment.

The visuals of this movie sets a new benchmark in CGI. The marriage of reality and effect is so seamless, it is impossible to be taken out of the story even when the most amazing things happen. I particularly enjoyed the scene when Sophie and The BFG go ‘dreamcatching’. It’s a magical, beautiful moment that you can lose yourself in and gives a strong and poetic visual to the concept of dreams. The film is heavily layered with compelling themes of loneliness and friendship. For adults, it could be hard to get into at first, but once you get past the funny words which seem to be a Dahl trademark and get into the story, you won’t be sorry.

 

The Audience: All right, nothing against the film, but we did see the presentation in what is called ‘Sensory Friendly’ mode. They keep the lights on about halfway which gave my friend a headache halfway through the film and it seemed to attract the worst kind of theater goers. A couple in particular sitting one seat away from me were very irksome. The husband was constantly checking his phone and despite the lights being on, the light from his cell phone was still quite distracting. They were also talking and he kept putting his feet up on the seat in front of him, which I find particularly loathsome.Come on! Were you raised in a barn? Thankfully they left after half an hour but there were others in the theater who seemed to think just because the lights were up gave them free reign to be as obnoxious as they could manage. I have to say avoid ‘Sensory Friendly’ shows because they may be friends to the senses, but not to the audience.

Black Human Torch

Okay, I’m dipping into sensitive waters here, I realize that, so let’s just agree that this post may contain some hard truths and in some parts might offend.

I’m sure many of you out there have seen the trailer for the new Fantastic Four movie. I know I have. Just to be clear, I think it looks awful and I have no intention of putting myself through it. It’s dark and gritty and that’s not how I have seen the Fantastic Four. It’s always been a fun, colorful kind of thing. That being said, one of the more hot topic issues with this iteration is casting. Johnny Storm is African American in this movie. Now, I fall on the side of the negative with this casting choice. I just feel the writers should have, as with all adaptations, stuck with the source material more closely. Johnny Storm is white. He was created white and has been white in every version of the character. I get the whole ‘the role should go to the best actor despite race’ argument, but are you telling me out of the millions of starving young actors out there today, this guy was the best of all of them? You could probably stuff a warehouse full of actors who could do the role and probably be able to pick out a Caucasian one.

I want to say race isn’t the issue here, but it is. I’m not racist, I just think a character that was conceived as being white should be represented as such in an adaptation. Now, if there was a legitimate, story-based reason for the change in race, fine. If you’re just doing it to satisfy some demographic or appeal to a certain segment of the population, not fine. That’s called whoring and I know Hollywood is no stranger at trying to satisfy everyone all at the same time, but there have to be some moments when integrity wins out. Call it optimistic, but I’m one of the few people in the world who still believe in integrity.

I’d even be okay with it if they had cast a big name African American actor to play Sue and Johnny’s father, but they didn’t. The guy they got is some character actor I remember from some educational show in the 90’s. I’ve seen him in some things, but he’s no Morgan Freeman or Sam L Jackson. He’s not the caliber of actor that you would make concessions for. He’s lucky he got this role. Biggest I’ve ever seen him in. So, they got him and he’s black, so we have to make one of the Storms black.

Now I realize some of you who are still reading this are just putting me in the ‘hater’ category right now. Fine. So be it. I just feel these characters were created by artists who had a vision. When they were hunched over their typewriters and drawing tables, they saw Johnny in their minds and they made him as they saw him. When that version was published the world accepted their vision and we all agreed that what they had given us was Johnny Storm. Fifty some years later, some slick studio execs slide in and decide something different and in casting an actor of a different race, they are saying that the creators were wrong. They’re saying that they can do better. As a writer, I am familiar with the process of creating a character and it’s not just coming up with a name and a visual concept. It’s much deeper and complex than that. You create their world. You create their childhood and their life up until the point where your story actually begins. You conceive them. You give birth to them. They are your children. I am offended when someone else’s children are treated so thoughtlessly. It’s not even like Marvel needs that much more diversity. They already have an impressive line up of heroes of other races. They have African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos. They’ve got the frickin’ United Nations of superheroes over there at the House Of Ideas. I am offended by a black Johnny Storm only because its clearly altering a character for the sake of a buck and a little promotion, which is working because here we are talking about it. I’ve fallen into the trap, but before I allow myself to go any deeper, let me get one last shot in by posing this question: What if it were reversed? What if an African American character were cast with a white actor? What if Falcon had been white in Captain America 2? War Machine? Hell, what if they switched Nick Fury back to white? Would people still be saying it’s cool and that it’s all about diversity? What if there was a JSA movie and Mr. Terrific got cast with a white guy? I think I would be less likely to make a stink about this issue if I saw the door swing both ways.