CGB Review of Ghostbusters (2016)

Who you gonna call?!
Well, personally, I’d call an exorcist, but you can go ahead and call the Ghostbusters.

This is my review of Ghostbusters!

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Some years back, Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and her friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) wrote a book about the paranormal.  When the book ended up becoming unpopular, Erin buried herself in her work at Columbia University and essentially abandoned Abby.  However, when ghost sightings become more and more commonplace, Erin and Abby are thrown back into the world of paranormal activity and bring an engineer named Jillian Holtzmann and a train station worker named Patty along for the ride.

Before I say anything else, I’m going to get this out of the way: You’re not a sexist if you don’t like this movie and you’re not a disgrace to the original Ghostbusters film if you do enjoy this flick.
With that out of the way, onward with the review!

The Hits
Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy do play off of each other very well.  In all fairness, I did chuckle a few times throughout because there were some good jokes and sight-gags.  Leslie Jones was surprisingly grounded and relatable to where I kind of wish she was the main POV character instead of Kristen Wiig.
[KIND OF A SPOILER] I did appreciate that Kristen Wiig’s character gets an interesting backstory of being visited by a ghost as a child.  I was hoping that this aspect of her character would come into play somehow, like have her get a flashback of it while she is fighting a ghost and then use the flashback to motivate her to persevere in courage instead of remaining a doormat.  Sadly, this doesn’t happen, but I will give credit for attempting a character arch.

The Misses
This movie has many structural issues.  Sequences happen without any build-up or significance.  For instance, one scene shows the women struggling to work their proton containment laser, but then just two scenes later, they’re using those guns with next to no issues.  Another example: When we are first introduced to Dr. Erin Gilbert, she is seeing preparing for her class when she is confronted by a reader of the book she and Abby wrote.  She keeps telling the gentleman, “I have a class in a few minutes” only to immediately go to her office and then head straight for Abby Yates’ workplace.  The funny thing is this could’ve been easily fixed had she been approached by the reader while in the middle of teaching, but nope.  We just never see her teach.
Apparently character archetypes that are normally fairly simple to write are a challenge for this movie…
Exhibit A: Kate McKinnon–what the heck were you doing?  Who was Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon’s character) supposed to be?   If you’ve ever wondered how NOT to write a quirky character, just endure Jillian Holtzmann’s forced weirdness.  It really isn’t that hard to create an offbeat character; you just have to focus on what makes them a person who happens to be quirky, not a person overtaken entirely by quirks.
Exhibit B: Chris Hemsworth, you are a stunningly handsome man, but no one is that stupid.  I’m talking about his character, the inept secretary Kevin.  Had his character been a teenage boy, his dimwitted nature would’ve been understandable, but as it stands, he is way too old to be this incompetent.   Again, dense characters are relatively easy to develop: Just have them do dumb things out of sincere goodness, i.e. make them childlike, not childish.
The villain–oh, what’s his name–Rowan?–is probably the most half-baked, underwhelming villain since the dark elf antagonist from Thor: The Dark World.  He just shows up because–potatoes–and wants to destroy the world because the script demands it.  Even Darren Cross from Ant Man had more development than this guy!  Honestly, I’m running out of things to say about what’s-his-name.

(Hears noise downstairs) Hello?  (No answer) Huh, well what could that be?  (Looks at review) My final thoughts can wait.  (Goes downstairs) (Sees a ghost in the kitchen)
ME: What the hey?
GHOST: I am the ghost of kitchen’s past!
ME: You mean, you’re the ghost of what this kitchen used to look like before we remodeled?
GHOST: (Looks confused) Yeah, sure.  Anyway, where is your proton pack now, mere mortal?
ME: I don’t know about proton packs, but I have this.  (Pulls holy water out of the cupboard and flings it at the ghost) In the Name of Jesus, leave my kitchen, jerkface!
GHOST: You fiend!
ME: Give your dark master my regards.  Oh, and LEAVE!  (throws more holy water furiously)
GHOST: AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH, I’M MELTING!!!!  (Writhes in agony and dissolves into a puddle of ooze)
ME: (puts holy water back in cupboard) I don’t think they sell special ghost-ooze mops at Walmart.  Oh, well, I’ll clean this up later, but first, time to finish the review.

(Returns to bedroom) And now, my closing thoughts:
Where Batman v. Superman had me looking up at the ceiling and asking God to strike me with lighting so I wouldn’t have to watch anymore (a request that He denied, as you can tell), Ghostbusters didn’t add or subtract from my will to live.  At the same time, it sure isn’t worth the full price of admission, either.  The characters are grossly underwritten, the plot loses all sensibility as it goes on and its only connection to the original Ghostbusters is via half-hearted cameos and shoehorned references.  If you really want to spend time at the movies, just go see Finding Dory again or even The Shallows.  As for this, Ghostbusters (2016) is a rental, not a must-see.

Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us.

CGB Review of The Jungle Book (2016)

Just looking for the bear necessities!  🙂

This is my review of The Jungle Book!

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In the jungle, the mighty jungle, there lives a “man-cub” named Mowgli, who lives under the protection of a black panther named Bagherra and a pack of wolves.  All is well until the diabolical tiger Shere Khan comes looking for the man-cub, since man is forbidden in the jungle.  For his own safety, Mowgli must leave the jungle and go to the “man village.” Along the way, he meets the laidback Baloo and other colorful characters.

The Hits
The CGI is truly remarkable.  I honestly forgot that I was watching CGI characters.  The level of detail on everything from the animals’ fur to the weather effects is quite stunning.
Neel Sethi is endearing as Mowgli.  Inquisitive, adventurous and even noble, Mowgli serves as the story’s emotional center.  Speaking of the actors, all of the voice acting is top notch!  Ben Kingsley is perfect as the firm and brave Bagheera while Bill Murray brings the warmth and charisma as the fun-loving Baloo.  Scarlett Johansson nails the trickery and cunning of the serpent Kaa.  Idris Elba–good Lord–he is terrific as the diabolic Shere Khan!  His deep, commanding voice gave me chills, making him an excellent villain.
Baloo and Bagheera have great chemistry as polar opposites, as well as guardians of Mowgli.  Bagheera keeps Mowgli grounded while Baloo helps the young boy feel safe and relaxed in his jungle home.  Out of all the characters, Baloo has the most character development.  His evolution from careless, self-centered wanderer to a competent and protective mentor to Mowgli is sweet and natural.
I like how the task of protecting Mowgli challenges other characters such as Baloo and even Bagheera to an extent to rise above their own imperfections for a worthy cause.  Keeping Mowgli safe becomes a community effort and in the end, community triumphs over the lone Shere Khan.  I particularly appreciate how Mowgli defeats Shere Khan not with ruthless violence, but by courageously standing his ground in the face of insurmountable opposition.  It reminds me of something Saint Thomas Aquinas once said, “The principal act of courage is to endure and withstand dangers doggedly rather than to attack them.”
A friend of mine named “N.M” recently told me, “Let the angels and the saints deal with the devil.  They know what they’re doing.”  I kept thinking about her words as I watched the movie.  Throughout the film, animals fight off Shere Khan while Mowgli flees to safety, which reminded me of the angels and the saints fighting off the devil and his minions.  Oh, yes, Shere Khan has the similar characteristics of the fallen angel Lucifer.  There’s a particularly chilling scene where Shere Khan is indoctrinating Raksha’s (Mowgli’s wolf mom) cubs.  “Well, it looks like the screenwriters read 1 Peter 5:8,” I said to myself.  By the way, feel free to type in what 1 Peter 5:8 says in the comments section.  🙂  Granted, I highly doubt that the filmmakers were looking to demonstrate how our Heavenly advocates fight for us, but then again, our God can make use of anything, even secular forms of art, to make Himself known to us.

The Misses
So Christopher Walken sings/speaks “I Wanna Be Like You” and…yeah, about that.  It is as if the filmmakers couldn’t decide if they wanted Mr. Walken to either sing the actual song or just say the lyrics without musical accompaniment, so they said, “Just do both.” As a result, Mr. Walken sounds awkward and stilted when he is sing-speaking the lyrics.
Personally I prefer character-driven stories over plot-driven ones, so even though I liked Mowgli, I couldn’t connect with him; he is sympathetic, not empathetic.  This hiccup doesn’t make the film less enjoyable, but just weak when compared to Maleficent (2014) and Cinderella (2015), both of which were poignant character studies.

I would highly recommend the Jungle Book as a fun family film.  While some of Shere Khan’s scenes are quite dark, the majority of the movie is light-hearted and entertaining.  Kids will enjoy the animals and action, while the adults will be pleasantly surprised with the film’s depiction of courage in the face of danger.

Saint Dominic Savio, pray for us.