Tag Archives: Bill Murray

Astonishing Art: Pop Culture Evolutions by Jeff Victor

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

As I’ve said before, I’m not normally into cutesy stuff. But Jeff Victor’s “Evolutions” series grabbed me.

Actually, cutesy is the wrong word. Cartoony would be a more accurate description. But the first work of Victor’s I saw was his “Pop Culture Evolutions” tribute to Leonardo of the TMNT. That one definitely has a cuteness to it, right?

It’s always fun to look back at the different variations of characters. Different looks, different incarnations over time, etc. Usually the longer they’ve been around, the more interesting it is. The Ninja Turtles are a great example, obviously. But you’ve also got characters like the Joker and Wonder Woman, movie monsters like the Xenomorphs, etc. Sometimes it’s even more fun with actors, and the wide array of personalities they’ve had to inhabit during their careers. Musicians have to evolve too. Few have evolved like Michael Jackson, of course…

Either way, Victor’s art is a lot of fun. He also does a lot beyond the Pop Culture Evolutions series. I’d definitely recommend checking out his official site, as well as his Instagram and Facebook pages.

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A Ghosbusters In-Depth Review – Good Enough

Ghostbusters, 2016 posterTITLE: Ghostbusters
STARRING: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth
DIRECTOR: Paul Feig
STUDIOS: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures, LStar Capital, Village Roadshow Pictures, The Montecito Picture Company, Pascal Pictures, Feigco Entertainment, Ghost Corps Production Company
RATED: PG-13
RUN TIME: 116 min
RELEASED: 
July 15, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The verdict from a life-long ghosthead: It’s good. Not great, and certainly not the classic it’s based on. But pretty good. After everything this movie and the people who’ve made it have been subjected to, I’d say pretty good is good enough.

Who’d have thought such a beloved movie, such a cherished brand, could prompt such hate? Just the stuff that’s been thrown at Leslie Jones (#LoveForLeslieJ) is enough to make you want to shower for five days. But the metric ton of sexism, and general brattiness shoveled in this movie’s direction has been preposterous. I love Ghostbusters as much as anybody else on the planet. The original film was a perfect storm of improv, acting, special effects (as they existed then), music, and storytelling. It touched an emotional chord, and captured the world’s imagination like few movies are privileged to do. I hold it very close to my heart.

But it’s still just a movie. A movie co-produced by Ivan Reitman, who directed the original, as well as Dan Ackroyd himself. A movie that clearly adores its source material, to the point that it stops in its tracks multiple times to have scenes with original cast members. It even goes out of its way to use Slimer, and give the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man an appearance. Let’s keep this all in perspective.

Ghostbusters, image 1, 2016While you can’t excuse all the hate that’s been thrown at this movie, when it comes to ’80s kids I think a lot of it stems from the idea that these ladies are “not my Ghostbusters.” I get that. Some of this backlash likely could have been avoided if they’d gone with a Creed style sequel set decades after the original. Same cast as this movie, same creative team, with a cameo from the Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd characters. Obviously, that leaves you with the question of what happened to Egon Spengler. But it could have worked. That’s what I’d have preferred, perhaps selfishly.

To its credit, the remake tells its own story, albeit hitting some of the original’s bullet points. Erin Gilbert (Wiig) is fired from her university position when her belief in the paranormal is brought to light. She teams with childhood friend Abby Yates (McCarthy) and her associate Jilian Holtzman (McKinnon) to research the ghostly and the unknown. Their first case takes them to the New York City subway, where they meet MTA worker Patty Tolan (Jones). From there, a mystery unravels as to how and why the city is infested with ghosts. Like the original, the movie’s climax ends with a fight against a giant, pasty white monster.

While the ghosts and spooky stuff was important, the success of the 1984 film had more with the Ghostbusters themselves. The characters were fun, their interplay was strong (not to mention hysterical), and you were rooting for them. In making a new Ghostbusters movie, remake or not, half your battle is in the creation of new characters. On that front, the movie starts off shakily. But by the second act, we’ve got a good team on our hands. I can’t give enough credit to Feig, his co-writer Katie Dippold, and these ladies for creating characters that are new, yet with a dynamic that feels familiar.

Ghostbusters, McKinnon, WiigMcCarthy essentially fills the Dan Aykroyd role in this movie, becoming the chirpy heart of the team. She plays off the skeptical Wiig, whose more reserved role keep things grounded in the first act, and adds weight to the ghostly stuff once it takes off. I’ve always preferred Wiig in more dramatic roles, and she earns her keep here. Leslie Jones is, frankly, the sassy one. But her character has enough heart to round her out.

Here’s something that won’t earn me any friends: Kate McKinnon’s performance as Holtzman was grating at first. They were pushing her too hard as “the zany one,” which made me nervous for her. IIf Holtzman had been too flippant for too long, we’d have had…*gulp*…the Jar Jar Binks of Ghostbusters.

Thankfully, the character finds her groove. She becomes an intriguing balance of misfit and super genius. Critics have called this a breakout performance for McKinnon. I’m with them. But yeesh, don’t scare me like that…

Chris Hemsworth surprises with his comedic chops. He could have strictly been a hottie for Wiig to drool over. But he adds real value as yet another misfit, this one comedically out of touch with reality. Based on his role in the climactic sequence, had the Kevin character been tweaked a bit, he might have been okay as the villain.

Ghostbusters, 2016, us against themThere’s a syrupy “rise above ridicule” vibe to the movie that I didn’t expect. The ladies are all outcasts who must overcome the city’s perception of them and save the day. We’re reminded that these four aren’t just coworkers. They’re friends. We get little sentimental moments between Erin and Abby. Patty yells: “Get outta my friend, ghost!” Holtzman gives a little speech about how she finally has a family. You almost expect someone to shout “Friends Forever!” Even our villain is a former bullying victim striking back at society. This idea was present in the original. But they didn’t point right at it like this movie does, and it didn’t seem as personal in nature. How ironic. A movie trying to talk to kids about bullying gets bullied online by adults, many of whom were likely bullied as children.

You know what I’m sick of? “Spontaneous banter.” It’s present in a lot of modern comedies, Ghostbusters included. Characters will be proceeding in a scene. Suddenly, someone will either go off on an unrelated tangent or say something embarrassingly personal. A certain vulnerability or humanity will peek through. Then, as suddenly as they stopped, they’ll pick up where they left off. Sometimes it works. But often it’s inorganic, and kills tension in a scene.

For instance, about midway through the movie a ghost throws a character out a window at Ghostbusters HQ. The ladies end up talking to a cop about the incident, and he cracks: “You saw a ghost? Like the movie with Patrick Swayze?” Melissa McCarthy’s character has a comeback, then suddenly she and Wiig go on a tangent about Patrick Swayze movies. They’re in trouble with the cops because someone was thrown out their window. But the stakes suddenly disappear, then reappear, so we can have banter. StopDoingThat. Not every movie can afford to snip holes in the fabric of its reality so we can have pop culture references.

Slimer

Like a a certain section of moviegoers, I’ve got CGI fatigue. In the ’80s, the Ghostbusters franchise was heralded for its special effects. So to see modern CGI in a Ghostbusters movie feels awkward. I’d wager part of this can be chalked up to the “not my Ghostbusters” factor. But there’s some legitimacy to it. You almost can’t look at these ghosts without being reminded of the live action Scooby Doo movie. But they should be fine for kids and the average moviegoer. Admittedly, our climactic monster looks pretty good. I also like that they added a little glisten to Slimer. He is made of slime, isn’t he?

To its credit, and my great surprise, this movie has one of the best credits sequences I’ve ever seen. They cut in and out of a dance scene, set to “Get Ghost” by Mark Ronson, Passion Pit, and A$AP Ferg. It’s infectiously catchy.

So in the end, was it all that bad? No, not really. It’s not the movie I wanted. But I’m okay with that. After all these years, we finally got a new Ghostbusters movie. And people in my theater were laughing and having fun. It’s tough not to like that.

Kristen Wiig, Ghostbusters premiereThen you have this picture. I absolutely adore this. Look at the faces on those kids! This captures what the new movie can mean to young girls around the world. For that matter, it captures what the old movie meant to so many of us. If you’re a child of the ’80s, swap in a childhood version of yourself and put Bill Murray in Kristen Wiig’s place. Different era, same scene.

Maybe, like the original Ghostbusters, we were meant to pass it on to a new generation.

Maybe we did get the right movie after all…

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A Ghostbusters: Displaced Aggression Review – Chemistry and Comics

Ghostbusters: Displaced Aggression, coverTITLE: Ghostbusters: Displaced Aggression
AUTHOR: Scott Lobdell
PENCILLERS: Ilias Kyriazis, Michael Dialynas. Cover by Nick Runge.
COLLECTS: Ghostbusters: Displaced Aggression #1-4
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASE DATE: April 7, 2010

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

You’ll find very few people happier than me that the Ghostbusters are back in comic shops. I doubt you’ll ever see a writer re-capture the magic of what Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis and the others brought to the screen all those years ago. But it’s still a lot of fun to watch the boys in grey suit up and kick some slime! (That’s right, I said it.)

After being defeated by the ghostly villain Koza’rai, the boys in gray each find themselves trapped in a different time period. Their only hope is Rachel Unglighter, a student of Egon’s, who travels back in time to reunite the team and save the world.

Ghostbusters: Displaced Aggression #1, VenkmanThis book is pretty accessible to Ghostbusters fans young and old. The story almost writes itself. And with Peter trapped in the old west, Ray trapped in the days of King Arthur, etc, the jokes do too. That’s unquestionably the hardest part of the Ghostbusters movies to replicate on to the page: that comedic camaraderie Murray, Aykroyd and the others put into it. How do you channel the genius of Bill Murray? You can’t. You simply have to do your best.

That’s the thing about the GB miniseries’ that have come out in recent years (to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the first film). In my opinion, they’re only as good as their Venkman. Did Aykroyd create the concept? Yes. Did he and Ramis write the films? Yes. But the Peter Venkman character (along with Sigourney Weaver’s character, Dana Barrett) was what injected some reality into them. He was the healthy cynic. In essence, he was the Han Solo of Ghostbusters (I think that means Egon was C-3P0). So as a writer, the closer you can come to generating something along the lines of Murray’s performance, the better your story is going to be.

I don’t think Scott Lobdell comes incredibly close in that regard, but he does a decent job. For my money, the best Ghostbusters graphic novel out there is Legion by Andrew Dabb.

From an artistic standpoint, Displaced Aggression is pretty “cartoonish,” but I can live with that. At the end of the book, Michael Dialynas pencils a short story about what Janine (the Ghostbusters’ secretary) was doing while the main story was taking place. His style looks a little more “comic bookish” to me. But then again, who am I to say what looks cartoonish or comic-bookish?

Ghostbusters: Displaced Aggression, JanineThe real question is, if Janine can get in the book, why can’t Louis Tully?

In the end, this book was fun for me because I’m such a ghosthead. But I can recognize that it doesn’t recapture the magic of the films. And that’s okay. It’s doesn’t look like The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, and the creators’ hearts are in the right place. For me, the latter is what matters most.

RATING: 5.5/10

Image 1 from bleedingcool.com. Image 2 from protoncharging.com.

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