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Review: Ghostbusters (2016) — Too Obsessed With the Past to Make a Decent Movie

At the risk of being labelled a ‘GhostBro’, Luke Miksa has feelings about the controversial Ghostbusters reboot.

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A reboot of the beloved sci-fi comedy blockbuster of 1984, director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy) presents a Ghostbusters for a new generation. When strange apparitions being appearing in New York, Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) joins her old colleague Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and her quirky new partner Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), along with historical New York City expert Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones). Dubbed the Ghostbusters by the media, together the four women — plus their new space cadet assistant Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) — set about to foil a plot which will bring about the apocalypse, right on their doorstep.

"Ain't no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts"

“Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts”

Surprisingly, Ghostbusters has become one of the most controversial films in recent years, and it’s mainly due to loyal fans of the original two films. A second sequel to Ghostbusters with the original cast has been in development hell for over twenty years, but with the death of Harold Ramis, the decision was made to completely reboot the series; a bitter pill to swallow for some die-hards. Things got worse when word came out that the busting of ghosts will now be done exclusively by a team of (gulp) women! This resulted in a veritable shit-show of online misogyny, including the first trailer being one of the most down-voted trailers in YouTube history (Look, it wasn’t a good trailer, but a quick look at the comment section will tell you the whole story).

But now the film has been released, which means it’s finally time to judge it on its merits, and not just prejudice and tears. And what’s the verdict? Unfortunately it’s not good.

Recent history has shown that the best way to reboot a franchise is to tie it in to the existing films, in whats known as a legacyquel; a cross between a distant sequel and a soft reboot (examples: Jurassic World, The Force Awakens, and Creed). This method seems to work, as it remains in the same universe that people are fond of, often with the older characters passing the torch to the new upstarts. But Ghostbusters bucks the recent — successful — trend, and we find ourselves with a hard reboot; a completely new universe where the events of the previous films don’t exist.

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The Best Films of 2013

Luke Miksa's: The Negative Space Bar

2013 was a pretty fantastic year for cinema — as long as you look past onset of blockbuster/superhero fatigue, often ridiculous Australian release schedules for smaller films (aka Stupid Australian Release Schedules), and a strange fascination with the apocalypse arriving a year too late. But I kid; for every annoyance, the medium produces many things to be excited about. I’m keeping this positive!

Let’s get down to it:

Missing the cut: The Wolverine, The Way Way Back, Side Effects, The Kings of Summer

I havn’t seen these (mainly due to Stupid Australian Release Schedules) but I’d probably dig them: The Wolf of Wall Street, Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave, Short Term 12

Cloud Atlas was released in Australia in 2013 (Stupid Australian Release Schedules), but for the sake of this list it will be treated as a 2012 film.

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10. Captain Phillips

The second-most intense film of the year (number one is below), which is made more so due to the fact that the incredible events depicted in Captain Phillips actually happened (sans the Hollywood artistic license). Tom Hanks knocks this role out of the water with an incredibly strong showing, and his performance in the final scenes left me in shocked silence for a while. Director Paul Greengrass knocked this one up a notch, even with his visceral, shaky-shaky handheld style (which I’m generally not a fan of).

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The Best Part of 2013 was…

Luke Miksa's: The Negative Space Bar

…when this tweet about The Spectacular Now (also about cats) was favourited by the film’s co-screenwriter and executive producer Michael H. Weber:

The man that was responsible for one of my favourite films of the year happened to like one of the dumbest things I’ve ever written. Things that make you go…

Boom

Boom

Trailer Talk: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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Behold the new theatrical trailer for the upcoming sequel to director Marc Webb‘s (WEBB!!) mediocre 2012 franchise re-start, The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

The trailer opens with Spidey (Andrew Garfield) in free-fall, much like Chev Chelios at the end of Crank. Unlike Chelios — even though they are both chemically enhanced — Spider-Man swings away at the vital moment to thwart crime instead of hitting the pavement.

Honestly, the trailer looks fantastic. Now that they have done away with telling the origin story (once again!), we can start dwelling on the character of Peter Parker and the action of the film. My only concern is the addition of too many new characters and plots; which, if you remember, is what made Spider-Man 3 such an overblown and underwhelming event.

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The Biggest Problem with ‘Man of Steel’

Luke Miksa's: The Negative Space Bar

As Zack Snyder‘s Man of Steel hit Australian home video this week, I got to reminiscing on how disappointed I was when I viewed it on its theatrical release.

I will gladly admit to being a tremendous Superman fan — possessive even — but I am generally not the kind of person to kick up a fuss when someone comes along and changes aspects to a long-standing character (especially a character with the 75-year legacy of Superman). Changes keep things fresh, and different artists are always going to have different perspectives and visions. I’m hip to this, and I enjoy seeing various interpretations.

I don’t need to warn you about MASSIVE SPOILERS from now on, do I?

The makers of Man of Steel made many changes: Perry White is black. Jimmy Olson is female. Lois Lane deciphers Clark Kent’s secret identity almost immediately. Superman is actually forced to kill as a last resort (which is kind of a big deal). All of these are fairly drastic changes, but I applaud them because they are either intriguing or they positively add to the narrative.

But there is still something that bugs me, and I’ve narrowed it down to this guy:

Herro

Oh, herro

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Review: Gravity (2013) — Bringing Art Back to the Multiplex; an Out-of-This-World Big-Screen Experience

Gravity

From Oscar-nominated Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity is the long-awaited directorial follow-up to the filmmaker’s acclaimed and ground-breaking dystopian science-fiction film Children of Men, released all the way back in 2006. Seven years is a long time between films — especially with the buzz that Children of Men generated with audiences — but thankfully Gravity is every bit the worthy continuation in Cuarón’s stellar filmography (which also includes the best Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban.

Gravity is minimalist sci-fi at its best: veteran astronaut Kowalski (George Clooney) leads his final space expedition and finds himself guiding rookie engineer Dr. Stone (Sandra Bullock) on her first. When debris irreparably damages their shuttle during a space-walk, the duo find themselves at the mercy of the vast isolation of space with time, and oxygen, running out and obstacles mounting.

No kidding, the WHOLE MOVIE looks like this!

No kidding, the WHOLE MOVIE looks like this!

Gravity is a visually transcendent film: amongst the best looking films in the past ten years, potentially amongst the best of all time. Cuarón made a name for himself with Children of Men with his complex visual compositions and unusually long shot takes. Gravity steps this up to another level; the opening shot of the film is a staggering 13 minutes without cuts! Considering the number of camera movements in that single shot — which starts out serenely and winds up in total chaos — along with the awe-inspiring photography (courtesy of Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life), it’s no wonder that Gravity has esteemed visual film-makers such as James Cameron and Rian Johnson gushing its praises.

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