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68. EMPIRE MAGAZINE GREATEST: Ghostbusters

April 24, 2018

Director: Ivan Reitman

Screenplay: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis

Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, William Atherton

Runtime: 105 Minutes

 

Original UK Release: 1984

 

★★★★★

 

The tightness of narrative form is the key to most successful blockbusters, no matter how bizarre. With Ghostbusters, Aykrord and Ramis’ screenplay is a wonderful blend of surreal spiritual nonsense and real-world situational comedy, while the direction by Ivan Reitman brings a complementary grounding to this real-world setting. There’s a sense of scale to the film that makes this the biggest production of the filmmaker's career, and the world building is effortless in its depiction of this theoretically feasible world. It’s great fun for kids even when the adult drama rears its head in suitably honest ways.

 

The chemistry between its leads it’s outstanding. The team members bring to each character their own unique comedy stylings and characteristics, with Murray, in particular, adlibbing most of his material to unfathomably brilliant effect. Weaver is great as the uninterested love interest of Murray, while Moranis and Potts get their moments to shine in supporting roles. If there are shortcomings then it might come down to Zeddemore as one of the more extraneous members of the team, and Zeddemore’s red herring villain (although excellently performed).

 

The physical designs and visual effects used to bring the ghosts to live in camera are spectacularly animated, cartoonish and menacing in equal measure. The themes of the relation between science and religion are explored in the story’s background, a great handling and partial satire of the otherwise serious cultural fascination of the occult in America around this period, as well as its subtle commentary on the environmental pollution crisis heavily informed by the present media. Its references to pagan deities and old gods are not dissimilar to the works of H.P.Lovecraft.

 

Ghostbusters is a classic with reason; it’s marvellous, spooky, kooky fun that has aged with considerably more grace than the period in which it’s set.

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