Ghostbusters is one of my all-time favourite movies, so the re-release, and the chance to see the movie on the big screen for the first time, is exciting. Ghostbusters is a very rare movie. It is a laugh out loud comedy, with humour that is very sophisticated, and still funny today. It is not puerile or gross-out, stunt based humour. There are numerous jokes in every scene, and a genuinely funny comedy is unusual nowadays. Added to this, it is still a very thrilling action movie. I’ve always maintained that if you dubbed over the dialogue with a completely straight drama story, it would be one of the best horror films of all time. To find a movie that can combine humour and action so effectively, and do both so well, is something special.
There have been a few films recently allowed a theatrical re-release, with the highest profile one being last year’s Back to the Future run. It allowed existing fans to enjoy seeing it on the big screen once again, or to catch it as it was intended for the first time if they missed its original run. It also enabled a younger generation to discover the film for the first time. What a fantastic film it is too, with great special effects working to enhance a genuinely thrilling and engrossing storyline.
So why are these older films now being re-introduced on theatre screens? For me, it really highlights just how far filmmaking has fallen in recent times. Back to the Future, Ghostbusters and Jurassic Park all have something in common. They were all high concept ideas, all employed cutting edge special effects, and each had intelligent plots, great characters, and exciting storyline. They were event movies, cinematic spectacle at its best, but combined this with expert storytelling. They were exactly the type of movie that we are severely lacking right now.
Comparable movies today still employ technological advances to thrill audiences, but the compelling stories are what is now missing. A Disney executive said it himself just a couple of weeks ago. At a computer graphics conference, Andy Hendrickson admitted that tentpole releases now were all about spectacle, and that the stories were ‘bullshit’. He inferred that nowadays, there was little point in putting any effort into getting great scripts together. Awful movies like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Transformers: Dark of the Moon etc.. are making huge amounts of money without having even a coherent or logical plot running through them. On this basis, the Disney exec was right – on the surface, it looks as though carefully crafting an interesting story is a complete waste of time. This, however, could well to turn out to be an ignorant, short-sighted view.
In 20 years time, will these movies enjoy their own cinematic revivals? Sure, the visuals look spectacular now, but in a decade or two the CGI that has been employed will start to look hideously dated. This is the case with the afore-mentioned Ghostbusters, BTTF and Jurassic Park, but the difference, and it is a big one, is that even though the visuals are now pretty sketchy, the underlying story still resonates. There is reason to revisit these great movies, because regardless of the dated appearance the stories are still fun, exciting and affecting. This will not be the case with the spectacle movies of today. Once the bright colours and computer imagery are stripped back and redundant, there is nothing else on offer.
The big blockbusters may be making money now, but will not be able to offer any value in the future. A new generation is not going to discover Transformers: Dark of the Moon and marvel at the brilliance of the writing, or the nuances of the acting performance. They will just snigger at the unconvincing cartoon robots. Studios may not care about this now, but in years to come it may become more obvious. Hopefully by then, times will have changed and we will once again be able to enjoy marvellous scripting and well constructed plotlines. Until then, we will have to revisit old classics to enjoy all round great movies, and yearn for the days when a visit to the latest blockbusters was not such a soulless experience.
Bazmann – You can follow me on Twitter at