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Josh Reviews the Extended Version of Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters

October 21st, 2016
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One of the many great things that started to happen with the success of DVDs in the aughts was the proliferation of extended cuts of movies.  I always enjoy checking out an extended cut of a film.  I always find it to be an interesting exploration of an alternate version of a film.  Sometimes, an extended version results in a hugely different film.  Sometimes the changes are significant, and sometimes they are very insignificant.  Sometimes a good film can be made great, or a great film can be made even better.  And sometimes the extended version is dramatically inferior to the original version.  I recently wrote about the extended version of Batman v. Superman, which made a watchable movie (albeit still not a great one) out of the disastrous theatrical version.  I also recently wrote about the extended edition of Ridley Scott’s The Martian.  I adored the theatrical version, and I didn’t think that the minor additions inserted into the slightly-longer extended version made much difference to the film.

Melissa McCarthy;Kristen Wiig;Kate McKinnon;Leslie Jones;Chris Hemsworth

I was intrigued to learn that an extended edition of Paul Feig’s recent reboot of Ghostbusters was being released to DVD & blu-ray.  I enjoyed Mr. Feig’s Ghostbusters, though in my review I commented that often the editing of the film seemed choppy, as if the film had been pared down from a much-longer version.  Would the extended edition address those concerns?  Would it improve the film?  Or would the result be an overly-long, bogged-down version?

Well, somewhere in between.  Ultimately I feel about this extended version of Ghostbusters pretty much the same way I did about the extended version of The Martian.  The additions are good but not essential.  The longer cut is not significantly better than the theatrical cut, but it works and certainly doesn’t do any harm to the film.

There’s no question that the best thing about this new extended edition is that the editing feels smoother and less choppy than the theatrical cut.  There’s a more natural cutting back-and-forth between the characters and story-lines in this longer version.  We get to see more of Rowan, in his human form, before he comes face-to-face with the Ghostbusters, which helps establish his character as the villain.  One of my complaints about the film, originally, is that because the villain exists in three different forms — as the nebbishy Rowan, as the mind-controlled Kevin, and finally as the giant Ghostbusters logo come-to-life — and because none of these forms are on-screen for all that long, the villain didn’t make much of an impact for me.  These additional scenes of Rowan (played by Neil Casey) helped that for me.

I was surprised that Charles Dance’s character, Erin (Kristen Wiig)’s stuck-up boss at Columbia, dropped out of the film so early on, so I was pleased that this extended edition added in a few additional moments with him later in the film.

I was also happy that this extended edition added back into it’s proper place in the film the sequence of the Rowan-controlled-Kevin’s making all the NYC police officers dance.  In the theatrical version, it’s clear that the film was missing a sequence to explain why, when the Ghostbusters arrive at the hotel for the final battle, all the police officers are frozen in weird positions.  (The dance sequence DID appear over the film’s end credits, which was a clever way to salvage the cut sequence but also a very weird and obvious admission that they hadn’t been able to solve that editing problem in a more graceful way.)  It’s nice to see the sequence back where it belongs.  (Though this extended edition also keeps the dance sequence over the end credits, which now feels weirdly repetitive.)

While the additional scenes smooth out the film’s pacing, none of these new scenes are all that significant.  There are no big revelations.  Nothing that’s added in is bad or awkward or otherwise something that should definitively been left on the cutting room floor.  But nothing is that revelatory or essential, either.

What are some of the other editions?

Well, we get to see the character of Erin (Kristen Wiig)’s uptight academic boyfriend played by Justin Kirk who was completely cut out of the theatrical version.  (Poor guy!)  We get an explanation of why Erin wasn’t with the team for the start of the climactic showdown with Rowan — it involves a sequence in which she punches a reporter.

We also get a bit in which, facing down the monstrous Rowan creature, the team attempts to cross the streams in an attempt to shut down the portal to the ghosts’ dimension (or whatever).  That sequence could be my least favorite addition.  Not only is it yet another callback to the original film in a film OVERLOADED with callbacks to the original Ghostbusters, but for some reason crossing the streams doesn’t seem to have the expected catastrophic result, which is weird and unexplained.

If you enjoyed Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters, and want to spend a little more time in this world and with these characters, you’ll certainly dig this extended version.  But if you were lukewarm on the film, there’s no reason to rush out to see this new version.  Personally, I enjoyed it.  (I’m bummed the film didn’t make more money, as I’d have loved to have seen additional sequels with these characters.  But I don’t think that’ll be happening.)

For me, the true test of an extended edition is the question of which version of the film will I want to watch going forward?  I’m not sure, but I suspect my answer will be the extended edition.

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