Women of science fiction - Ghostbusters and Arrival

Accidentally watched Ghostbusters and Arrival in one sitting. I felt compelled to write about my evening.
March 22, 2017

Ghostbusters (2016)

The originals were only a passing curiosity for me growing up. Vague memories of Saturday evening viewings on ITV12 at various points in my teens are the only memories I cling on to with this franchise. Which is not to say I didn't enjoy them. Even Ghostbusters 2. Perfectly enjoyable nostalgia romps. So I wasn't swept up in the hysteria of a year ago when the sad wagon of hate rolled into town.  

Yet, I had a yearning to watch it because of what Ghostbusters means to geeks the world over and what it could potentially mean for a new generation of girl geeks. I have a daughter and, without going into too much detail, I wanted her to look back on similar nostalgia fests feeling represented and with strong female heroes. Call me sentimental. The roiling vitriol of hate and disdain that surrounded this film put me off as it probably did most level headed folks. So when it popped up on my TV I thought I'd give it a whirl. Oh how disappointing.  

Look! This film should've been so much better!

I don't think I need to mention that it is a bad film, but I was also left with a feeling that the filmmakers themselves had some level of disdain for the film.  

Unfortunately, the best lines and set pieces were given to the highest billing male actor, Chris Hemsworth, and the variably admirable lead roles were left with front butt jokes and the usual, lazy gender and racial comedy that these films seem to peddle.  

The four leads perform fine and there are some fleetingly humorous moments, but they were few and far between. Lurking in Ghostbusters there's an above average film that has been made with a half decent script and a much better director.  

Arrival (2016)

I can't help but feel that Arrival is possibly one of the truest female orientated science fiction films of our generation. Right from the female lead - superbly played by Amy Adams (new fan here ✋🏼) - to its circular symbolism, men are peripheral to Louise's journey and almost fuck it up for humanity. Which, let's face it, would likely happen if we were in sole charge of first contact with an alien race.   

This film scratched many of my personal sci-fi itches: 

Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner in Arrival.

Arrival *looks* incredible, but for some reason lost to me, I came away feeling like it lacked something. Maybe, despite its relatively 'uplifting' ending, it's still a bleak as fuck film. Maybe it's because I watched the Ghostbuster reboot before hand. Maybe I expect too much from sci-fi's that tackle big questions (looking at you Interstellar 👀).  

Undoubtedly, Arrival is a far superior film than Ghostbusters on almost every conceivable level. I'd go as far as advising people to avoid watching GB as it almost does women in sci-fi a disservice, as well the genre as a whole. Whereas Arrival could well be one of my favourite films of 2016 and it's a must see for fans of cinema and science fiction alike.