Ghostbusters : Afterlife

86 / 100

Watchable Minutes : 100 watchable minutes out of 124. There were a few bits and pieces that could have been cut to make the movie flow a little bit better. 

Trailer Comparison : This is a good, representative trailer of the final product. What you see is what you get. 

Movie or Film : Ghostbusters is an action comedy that doesn’t convey any messages or meanings because it doesn’t need to. It’s an entertaining movie, but not one that will teach the audience any lessons or comment on anything in particular. 

Info : 

  • Run time : 2 hours 4 minutes
  • Studio : Sony Pictures
  • Director : Jason Reitman
  • Where to Watch : In Theaters

Summary : 

After recieiving word that her estranged father had died after years of no contact, a single mother named Callie and her two teenage kids, Trevor and Phoebe, drive out to the Oklahoma countryside to take care of his estate. Upon arrival, the kids learn that their stay may be considerably longer than they initially thought as they have been evicted from their apartment in the city. Over the next few days, Trevor and Phoebe discover there’s more history to this sleepy town than they initially thought as they continuously witness weird and unexplainable supernatural situations. 

Review : 

The original Ghostbusters from 1984 is the peak of 1980s comedy. Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson star as the Ghostbusters in this incredibly original, hilarious, and entertaining mid-80s flick. Since the smash success of the original, there have been several attempts to recapture the magic, including sequels, video games, tv shows, and failed reboots of the franchise. However, nothing seems to come close to the impact that the original had. Most famously, the much-maligned 2016 reboot (soft sequel? mid reboot?) drew the ire of longtime fans and casual moviegoers alike for completely missing the mark and failing to justify its existence. Despite all that, the studios that hold the keys to the franchise keep trying to make Ghostbusters work in the modern era. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the latest attempt to bring the Ghostbusters to a modern audience and while this movie could stand on its own two legs if it wasn’t a Ghostbusters movie, the fact that it’s supposed to be a direct sequel doesn’t do it any favors.

Afterlife begins with a frantic Egon Spengler running through a random field and eventually finding his end as he is slaughtered by a ghost of some sort. A few minutes later and the audience is introduced to Egon’s daughter and grandkids. Callie, played by Carrie Coon, is a single mother who struggles to have a relationship with her daughter Phoebe, played by Grace McKenna. She does a good job with her son Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) because boys are always easier apparently and she needs an ally on screen that isn’t Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd). Phoebe is Callie’s daughter and is the nerdy kid who loves science and looks exactly like her grandfather, with curly hair and circle glasses. She even completes the character with an edgy “I’m so misunderstood attitude”. Her brother is a gear head and her mother doesn’t value science the same way (because of her sense of abandonment from her absent father), so she feels left out in her own family. Phoebe doesn’t do herself any favors with the shitty attitude and rude comments to her mom. Phrases like “You were never really good with money” or “You don’t value science the way I do, but your quesadillas are good” were common, and made the character easy to dislike. Trevor is largely one-dimensional and doesn’t bring much to the table other than filling out a roster spot on this new Ghostbusters team. After moving to Summerville, Oklahoma, the family settles in for what could be a long stay as they try to figure out what to do with the mess that Egon left behind. Some exploration happens, Phoebe discovers that Egon haunts the halls of their new home, Trevor gets a job and is adopted by the cool kids in town, and Callie starts dating Gary Grooberson.

Everything is mildly entertaining up to this point, with a few laughs and plenty of exposition that is tracking pretty closely to the original movie. There’s a discovery that connects the town of Summerville to the building in NYC where the Ghostbusters had their famous final battle with Zuul. Trevor, Phoebe, and Phoebe’s new (and only) friend, Podcast, all learn bits and pieces of the history of Summerville and start to put together the answer to the big question – Why did Egon come all the way out here? The movie keeps the pace of the story moving with hijinks, mixups, and classic ghost possession. There are quite a few ideas borrowed from the original movie, with some famous ghosts making their return. The key master and gatekeeper both return in their dog statue forms and take possession of Callie and Grooberson, much like the original movie. As the movie progresses through the third act, a few things happen that push the polar opposite siblings together and help them appreciate one another for the talents they have. Eventually, there’s a final showdown with Gozer, the leader of the ghosts who will turn the world into a pit of despair and suffering. That’s when the Ghostbusters show up in all their glory and help to stop Gozer from taking over the world again. There are a few classic quips from Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, and Ernie Hudson to tie the whole thing together. Then Phoebe saves the day, and everything winds down from there. Oh, and there’s a force ghost Egon because Harold Ramis passed away several years ago. Egon’s ghost had previously been represented by objects moving throughout the house, helpful drawers opening/closing, and lights turning on and off which was honestly ok for the most part.

Nothing about the story is overly complex, and the actions the characters take to get from point A to point B are relatively easy to follow, but there’s a jarring moment here and there where it falls apart. The dialogue is a little clunky at times, specifically when Phoebe gets mad at her mom for keeping their family legacy a secret. The writers did a decent job of throwing that back at Phoebe by saying that it hurt Callie too much, but then it doesn’t really lead to anything. This is about the extent of the character development of this movie. They take a few steps in the right direction and then just stop. There’s no follow-up that brings the characters closer together in any sort of meaningful way. It’s just hand waved away and forgotten about.

There are a few big names with substantial screen time in Afterlife. Paul Rudd and Finn Wolfhard are two of the more relevant big names in this movie and they have mid to low impact on the whole story. Paul Rudd is hilarious as always and steals the spotlight in every scene he’s in. The moments when he’s on-screen are the most enjoyable. Finn Wolfhard is continuously wasted on 80s centric content. He needs to bust out and do something new soon because he can’t ride this gimmick forever. Additionally, Carrie Coon does a good job as Callie. She felt like a real parent with struggles and hopes and difficult relationships with her kids. She fails no matter how hard she tries, but she does it all for her kids despite how they treat her, which all adds up to a solid performance. Unfortunately, I have to lump Murray, Akroyd, and Hudson in with the leftovers because they were only in the movie for about 5-8 minutes, which isn’t long enough for them to really make an impact on the audience. Their scenes were funny and all, but they were really there as a grab for nostalgia brownie points with the audience.

The mechanics of this movie were a pleasant surprise. The editing was a little too generous with certain things, as mentioned above in the watchable minutes section. The cinematography was solid, but there weren’t any visuals that are going to become wallpaper-worthy or anything like that. Accompanying the solid cinematography was a serviceable soundtrack, score, and sound design. There isn’t a single song that sticks out nearly 48 hours after watching it, but I do recall that there wasn’t anything jarringly out of place. The ghosts sounded like ghosts, and the proton packs all sounded like the original movie, which helped the continuity. The best part of the visual aspect of this movie was the use of practical effects. The dog statue ghosts from the original movie returned and looked just like they did in 1984. Had the crew opted to CG these specific creatures and the other ghosts, it would have been a misstep, but thankfully they opted for practical effects wherever possible, aside from one notable force ghost. The biggest complaint with the visuals has to be the CGI Egon. He looked terrible and should have been cut entirely. The impact of his ghost writing something on the wall, or pointing another lamp at a particular picture could have accomplished the same thing.

While it’s definitely not as good as the original, the latest attempt at an enjoyable Ghostbusters movie earns some praise. The story is serviceable and the jokes are actually funny, which goes a long way towards making this an enjoyable movie. A few bad choices here and there, along with some clunky dialogue drag Afterlife down a little bit, but not much. Afterlife is worth the price of the ticket because it does an OK job of connecting the two by relying heavily on the original source material, but it isn’t so bold as to do anything outright new with the rest of the runtime.

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