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Ghostbusters: Afterlife (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 22


Starring Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Paul Rudd, Logan Kim, Celeste O'Connor, Bokeem Woodbine, Marlon Kazadi, Sydney Mae Diaz, Stella Aykroyd, Emma Portner, Olivia Wilde, JK Simmons, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts and the voices of Josh Gad and Shohreh Aghdashloo.

Screenplay by Gil Kenan and Jason Reitman.

Directed by Jason Reitman.

Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing. 124 minutes. Rated PG-13.

I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts.

And neither is Hollywood, which keeps going back to the Ghostbusters well. At this point, in the 38 years since the first Ghostbusters film became something of a classic, there has been a sequel, a video game (loosely based on an unproduced script for a Ghostbusters III), an animated TV series and now with this film, there have been two reboot movies.

The only problem is, for the most part, only the original Ghostbusters was very good. Even that one, although considered a comedy classic, is not quite as good as you may remember with almost four decades of hindsight.

However, there were high hopes when this film was released to theaters a couple of months ago. Trying to erase memories of the Paul Feig all-female cast reboot six years ago (which honestly wasn’t all that bad, but it also wasn’t all that good), Ghostbusters: Afterlife was returning the franchise to the family. It was being directed by Jason Reitman, the son of original director Ivan Reitman, who also was on board as an executive producer. The original cast members would return in cameos as their original characters. (They appeared in Feig’s Ghostbusters as well, but all playing different roles.)

Like the video game, this film was also loosely based on the concept of the unmade Ghostbusters III script, turning the focus on a group of young ghostbusters. And the storyline would center around the death of the character of Egon, originally played by the late Harold Ramis. They were bringing back Gozer and Zuul and the keymaster and the gatekeeper and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. They were even bringing back Ray Parker Jr.’s beloved theme song.

What could go wrong?

Well, it turns out that Ghostbusters: Afterlife comes down about the same place as the first Ghostbusters reboot. Honestly wasn’t all that bad, but it also wasn’t all that good.

It also seems to have a bit of a fundamental misunderstanding of what made the original work. While it is often funny, in general this film is highlighting the action adventure thrills and the scares over the comedy. Ghostbusters was never about being scary, despite revolving around ghosts. The ghosts themselves were kind of silly and ridiculously malevolent – see again the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man and Slimer.

On the plus side, Ghostbusters: Afterlife has no one getting slimed.

In a slightly confounding story choice, the action is moved from New York City to a rundown farm in the boonies of Oklahoma. Because, you know, the powers of evil threatening to wreak havoc on some fields, some cows, some farms, a superstore and a local drive-in restaurant is such a gripping idea – particularly in comparison to the spiritual underworld destroying a city of 8.4 million people.

But, okay fine, if Afterlife likes, I suppose it can be fancy like Applebee’s on a date night. And moving the action to the middle of Oklahoma does open the door for a bit of soft commentary on fracking, so there is that. Not all evil is in the big cities, so why not? We’ve got ghosts in low places.

And in fairness, some of the action scenes are really well pulled off. The acting is good, the special effects are mostly seamless and there are some funny jokes strewn about.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is far from being a failure. I’m just not sure there is all that much reason for it to exist. However, if you love the series, you’ll probably find some cool easter eggs to make it worth your while.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2022 All rights reserved. Posted: February 1, 2022.


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