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Revisiting the things that we love comes with risk. How do we continue the stories we cherish in a way that is loyal to the original while also adding something meaningful? It’s a delicate tightrope walk, to be sure, a balancing act that far too many creators and artists have failed to execute.

So it was with some trepidation that I approached “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.” After all, I love the Ghostbusters. I love the 1984 original. I love the 1989 sequel. Hell, I’m even in the minority that enjoyed the 2016 reboot, for its flaws. But the idea of making a direct sequel to those films over three decades later seemed … ambitious? Complicated? Risky?

Well, I’m happy to report that my concerns were largely unfounded. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” – directed by Jason Reitman from a script by Reitman and Gil Kenan – is a delightful experience, one that stays true to the spirit (see what I did there?) of the original. It’s a fun and funny and at times surprisingly poignant dip back into this world, a world where the consequences of long-ago actions have rippling consequences to this day.

It’s not perfect – there are those who have argued that the third act leans a little too far into the fan service lane and I don’t think they’re entirely wrong – but the truth is that this film treats the legacy of the franchise with love and respect. No surprise, considering that Reitman’s father Ivan was behind the camera for the original, but it’s worth noting.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 29 January 2020 14:04

‘The Turning’ screws up a classic

Adapting a literary classic for film is always a fraught proposition. Making the transition from page to screen is a delicate, tricky process. Sometimes, it is wildly successful and we get a film that not only represents the source material, but transcends it, becoming a classic in its own right.

Other times, we get “The Turning.”

Based on the 1898 Henry James novella “The Turn of the Screw,” this film is intended to be a modern update of that classic Gothic ghost story. A tale of psychological intrigue, it’s an atmospheric and insular work, one that relies heavily on the creepiness inherent to its setting and circumstances for its fright factor. It is a slow-moving, slow-developing work; the glacial nature of its pacing can present a challenge to a reader.

Now imagine that same glacial pacing unfolding on screen. It simply doesn’t play, despite the best efforts of those involved. But there are only so many rea/not-real jump scares that we can take before it all starts to blend together into rote repetition. And that’s all we get from director Floria Sigismondi, working from a screenplay by twin brother writing team Carey and Chad Hayes. It’s a meandering, unfocused ramble that doesn’t seem to understand what made the original work scary in the first place.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 15 August 2018 12:37

‘Dog Days’ more bark than bite

August is an interesting month when it comes to the movies. It’s a landing spot for films that maybe don’t quite fit the now-traditional IP blockbuster mode, but don’t make sense in the fall, but are also too good for the January-February wasteland.

In many ways, “Dog Days” epitomizes a certain type of August movie. It’s an ensemble comedy that isn’t unceasingly raunchy or packed with big stars, one driven more by the uncynical central conceit that dogs make our lives better.

Despite the subversive comedy bona fides of director Ken Marino (of “The State” fame), “Dog Days” seems content to coast on moments of sentimental cuteness and easy jokes. It’s basically one of those Garry Marshall holiday-themed movies, only with more dogs and a less famous cast.

Published in Movies

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