Discover the past. Save the future.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a 2021 supernatural science fiction comedy film directed by Jason Reitman, written by Gil Kenan and Jason Reitman, produced by Columbia Pictures, Bron Creative, Ghost Corps, The Montecito Picture Company, and Right of Way Films, and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing. It stars McKenna Grace and Carrie Coon. It was not nominated for any Academy Awards. This is the fourth Ghostbusters film, but the third in the main Ghostbusters series. It was preceded by Ghostbusters (Answer the Call), but, chronologically, preceded by Ghostbusters II.
"My grandfather was a Ghostbuster. Something was coming and he knew it." -Phoebe Spengler
After Egon Spengler dies, his daughter and her two kids inherit his house. As nerdy kid Phoebe tries to settle in to their new home, she begins uncovering some mysterious things tied to her grandfather's past. When strange things begin happening all over Summerville, Phoebe must embrace her granddad's legacy and stop the next invasion of ghosts.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife gives us plenty of things that Ghostbusters fans will absolutely love. And my personal favorite thing was the ability it had to capture the nostalgic feeling of the 1984 original. The original Ghostbusters is one of my favorite movies, and Afterlife is able to bring back the whole vibe of that movie. Between the score, the objects, the story, and the characters, Afterlife really did an incredible job of giving me that unique Ghostbusters feel. Neither Ghostbusters II or the 2016 remake was able to do that.
While there are cameos and returning characters as well as some really fun references to the original Ghostbusters, this movie very much crafts it's own group of Ghostbusters and has very different arcs for all of our main cast. Phoebe Spengler, Egon's granddaughter, is the one that discovers most of the Ghostbusters artifacts and really unravels the mystery of the movie. The film doesn't rely on the fan service to be a good movie. It is able to very much act as a sequel to Ghostbusters while also being its own thing. It moves the story from Venkman and Ray and Egon and Winston to this new group of characters. And, with the financial success of this movie, I do think we will get a sequel where the Afterlife characters return.
And because this is both a reboot and sequel to Ghostbusters (I think), it feels very much like a legacy story about Egon Spengler. He has a very important presence and role in the movie that is very good. This movie feels like it is trying to carry on the legacy of the Ghostbusters while honoring Egon and moving toward a new, younger group of Ghostbusters, and I think that that is the right direction to take the franchise.
This is also definitely the most emotional Ghostbusters movie. Like I said before, Egon has a very big presence in the film, and most of the emotional moments spawn from his character. The mom in the movie, Callie, has a pretty good emotional arc, but I also think that Phoebe has a good emotional arc. The characters in this movie are pretty good, and that was a relief, because it is hard to measure up to the original four. But this movie was able to do it.
And, yes. This movie has tons of fan service and references back to the original movie. And, while that can sometimes be a bad thing, in this movie, it wasn't. It had built out its own world enough that it was okay to have some familiar faces return. Some of my favorite lines in the movie were obviously cheesy, fan service-y lines, but it's okay. This movie earned its fan service. Instead of feeling like a gimmick at the end, it feels fun. And that was one of the best things about this movie.
This is a movie with Paul Rudd and Finn Wolfhard, two actors who have established themselves in the MCU, Anchorman, It, and Stranger Things, but the writers and director knew that McKenna Grace can be just as good as those two. And they made the genius decision to give her the spotlight. She is great in this movie. She does act like a young, female version of Egon. She's funny, she's serious, and she absolutely nails this role.
My biggest issue with Afterlife is very annoying. There are a lot of scenes with these ear-piercing booms and shrieks that make your eardrums feel like they are going to explode. This starts in the very first scene and does not let up until the credits roll. They try to increase the number of jump scares and shrill noises, but it just makes you cringe while you cover your ears. It's horrible. And it's a problem that is easily fixable. Now, this may only be an issue because I saw this movie in a theater, but it shouldn't be an issue at all.
And there are a lot of films that dump exposition on you. And the worst part is: most of it is stuff we already know. There are scenes that explain the events of the first Ghostbusters. There are scenes that explain the backstory of our villains, which we already know from previous knowledge. And even when it is new information, it's boring. They could've found a more exciting way to give us background info instead of characters just explaining it.
And I know I said that it doesn't rely on Ghostbusters earlier, but I am talking about something different here. It doesn't rely on the callbacks to the original. It doesn't rely on Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. It more tells the same exact story as the original Ghostbusters. No specifics, but the story is very much reminiscent of the original, and not really in a good way.
The thing that makes Afterlife inferior to the first movie is the absence of the freshness and charm that Ghostbusters had. Ghostbusters was a unique, fun movie that had a goofy concept. It took that silly concept and made a hilarious and memorable film that blended comedy, horror, sci-fi, and action, and eventually even made it to the National Film Registry. Afterlife doesn't have the breath of fresh air that Ghostbusters had. It doesn't have the charm. McKenna Grace is great, but she is nowhere near Bill Murray. There isn't that magical element there that makes the first Ghostbusters great. And that was a shame, because from the way the trailers looked, I thought it was going to have that.
Should you see Ghostbusters: Afterlife?
I'd say yeah. Is it necessary that you check this movie out? No. If you aren't a fan of the original or haven't seen it, then definitely don't watch this movie. This might sound like a joke, but if you have sensitive hearing, then probably wait until this movie is streaming. But if you are a Ghostbusters fan and can handle some really terrible noises, you'll like this movie.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is not great by any means, but it's a worthy follow-up to the original that passes the torch while also bringing back some of our favorite characters and giving us the sense of nostalgia that you would want.
I'm gonna go Savory here. Age range is 8+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)
Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
Fun Factor: 7.5/10
Story: 6/10 Quality: 6/10
Directed by Jason Reitman
Rated PG-13 for supernatural violence and action, some frightening and intense scenes, minor sexual references, thematic elements
Released on November 19, 2021
2 hours and 4 minutes
McKenna Grace as Phoebe Spengler
Carrie Coon as Callie Spengler
Finn Wolfhard as Trevor Spengler
Logan Kim as Podcast
Paul Rudd as Gary Gooberson
Celeste O'Connor as Lucky
Bill Murray as Peter Venkman
Dan Aykroyd as Ray Stantz
Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore
Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz
Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett
Olivia Wilde as Gozer the Gozerian
J.K. Simmons as Ivo Shandor
Bokeem Woodbine as Sheriff Domingo