Ghostbusters Reboot Trailer Analysis

There's a lot to unpack in the first trailer for the new Ghostbusters movie. Here's what we found.

Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot has finally unveiled its first trailer. There’s lots to unpack here considering the long history of the franchise, the occasionally nebulous state of where this sits on the reboot/remake/sequel spectrum, and the silly “controversy” about making the team female this time around.

We’ll dig into it all in a moment, but first, in case you missed it, here’s that trailer again…

OK, now we can get things started…

Obviously, this is set in New York City. Where else would it be set, right? 

But the opening does add a little confusion about the film. The whole “30 years ago…” text would almost indicate that this is a continuation of the original franchise. But there’s almost nothing else in the trailer to back that up, with at least one or two points seeming to actively contradict it.

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Feig has gone on record saying this is not a continuation, but a complete reset. At the Ghostbusters press day he said“I didn’t like the idea of (the new Ghostbusters) being handed technology — ‘Here’s how to do this.’ I want to see it developed. We give them their own original origin story and play with that.”

So, what do we have here? We have our slacker and possible skeptic, the nerdy paranormal enthusiast, and the more buttoned-up/academic paranormal enthusiast. There’s definitely a Murray/Aykroyd/Ramis parallel here, even though it’s clear that these characters aren’t meant to be direct reflections of them.

The fact that they’re all together for their first paranormal encounter brings us to…

This entire sequence is clearly intended to be a riff on the New York Public Library ghost scene from the first film. It does, for better or worse, drive home the reboot/remake aspects of this movie, even if the rest of the trailer does its best not to get to deep into homage with individual scenes.

You’ll note that she’s described here with the Tobin’s Spirit Guide appropriate classification of Class IV apparition, just as the Grey Lady from 1984 was.

You didn’t really think we’d get an entire Ghostbusters trailer without ectoplasm, did you? Somebody always has to get slimed.

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Would it surprise anyone if we get celebrity cameos on the form of apparitions in this movie? I don’t mean cameos from actually dead people (I’m not sure that a “Harold Ramis as a ghost” moment would be the best idea), I just mean as an excuse to get a few recognizable faces into the background.

I’m not suggesting there are any in the above image, by the way. Although if you spot any, please shout ’em out!

I can’t tell if this is really NYC or not. Most of the film shot in Boston, which should annoy any number of sports fans on either end of the spectrum. But if you look closely, that Financial District building has a plaque that says “Subprime Brothers” which is pretty hilarious.

The new Proton Packs are pretty cool, aren’t they? The overall production design definitely reflects the cobbled together, lived-in aesthetic of the first film. There’s nothing overly slick or sexy in terms of design. In terms of staying true to the (ahem) spirit of the franchise, the Proton Packs, the lab, the uniforms, and the Ecto-1 are all perfectly in keeping with what fans should expect from a Ghostbusters movie. 

Speaking of these packs…

Even the wobbly glory of those streams you shouldn’t cross are represented in a familiar way.

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Making the Ecto-1 into a converted Hearse is a nice touch. I once knew a blues band that drove around in a Hearse. They were pretty damn good.

And to be clear, this is the ECTO-1. Once again, any lingering thoughts that this might be some kind of vague continuation of the original franchise is called into question. Although there continue to be noises made that there’s some kind of Ghostbusters universe in the works at Sony that would allow both versions of the franchise to exist.

The “let’s go” gag would seem to indicate it’s from a “first day on the job” sequence, similar to when Slimer first came on the scene in the original movie.

Other than chronologically in the trailer, there’s nothing to indicate that this is directly after that, though. It appears to be far more than just a scene where the ladies go to a ballroom to bust some ghosts. The torches on the wall make this feel more like Zuul’s temple from the end of the first movie (it does seem that most of the visual nods come from the first film, and not the less beloved Ghostbusters 2).

Maybe this is from the climax of the movie. Or maybe I’m thinking too hard about all this.

Not that this should surprise anyone, but Slimer is back, looking very much like his old self, and with his taste for NYC street dogs still intact. Again, this is one of those moments that plays more like a strict homage to the first movie.

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There are two versions of Times Square that we can see here…

Here’s the modern one, with an amusing reference to the iconic Twinkie analogy. But then there’s this one… 

The ghosts aren’t the only things that have come back to life, so have a number of old movies and businesses in Times Square! While nobody, living or dead, really likes Times Square these days, there’s no doubt that it’s safer than it was back when Taxi Driver would have been playing in theaters in 1976. Or, for that matter, when Ghostbusters would have been playing in 1984!

You can also spot Boris Karloff’s Isle of the Snake People, which isn’t exactly one of the horror icon’s most beloved flicks. That one came out in 1971, another year when wandering through Times Square might get you significantly more than just annoyed, and where you could even end up as a ghost yourself.

Jack Skellington? Slenderman? He borrowed those pants from Beetlejuice, from the looks of things. Help me out.

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Before we wrap this up, a little about the characters…

Kate McKinnon is Jillian Holtzman, a “nuclear engineer, munitions expert, proton wrangler.” Well, now we know who builds all that cool gear.

Kristin Wiig is Erin Gilbert, “particle physicist, academic firebrand, spectral warrior.”

Melissa McCarthy is Abby Yates, “paranormal researcher, supernatural scientist, entity trapper.”

Leslie Jones is Patty Tolan, “ghost tracker, municipal historian, metaphysical commando.”

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(thanks to ScreenRant for aggregating those character descriptions!)

Here’s a possessed Chris Hemsworth, looking unconvincingly nerdy, but thoroughly ready to be objectified by the women of the world.

While it’s been made clear that many members of the original cast will return, they were wisely kept out of this trailer. I imagine they’ll be kept out of all future trailers, too. This one seems to be a good mix of new story and characters with enough nostalgia to ease the fears of most purists. Hopefully future trailers (and the movie itself) will keep self-referential nods to the franchise’s past to a minimum. Ghostbusters has been a divisive project with fans, and the best thing it can possibly do is forge its own path wherever possible. This trailer is a good start.

Ghostbusters opens on July 15th.

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments and we’ll update this with more cool Ghostbusters stuff!