Ghostbusters: Afterlife

⭐⭐⭐½ based on 1 review.

tl;dr: An excellent tribute with a solid core, though falls into a trap of being too focused on nostalgia.




Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

I'll always defend the more modern reboot of the Ghostbusters as a film not given anywhere near enough credit, but I will also admit that getting a true sequel proved to be quite a lot of fun. Afterlife definitely treads a similar line as The Force Awakens, in that the plot is basically identical to the OG movie, just with the characters and setting altered, but it largely pulls this off. Did I need Zuul, Gozer, and co. to return? No, I'd have been fine with a new villain, but it does give the original cast some fun one-liners and it helps ground the design of the film in the '80s original quite neatly. Did the tiny marshmallow people make any sense at all? No, but they were adorable and their gleeful suicide/homicide was genuinely (darkly) hilarious at times.

I also really enjoyed the way they centred the plot around Middle America. With the first films being based (largely) in New York (and within the wealthier parts, too), it was nice to see a different side of the US and focus on more working-class heroes. I think part of what makes the first movie, in particular, so good, is that these guys are just average Joe's, coded as largely blue-collar, but then they can afford to live and work in Manhattan and end up as Professors, TV show hosts, etc. It's the Friends paradox: they're meant to be relatable but they live incredible, privileged lives. Not to say inheriting a farm isn't a certain degree of privilege, but there's something about the Spengler family that just feels more grounded. Plus, merging the idea of Ghostbusters with the '80s kid-adventure-horror genre just makes so much sense. Throw in a few excellent comedic actors like Paul Rudd, some cameos from the original cast, a bucket or two of great action, and the result is deeply entertaining. Does it spend a little too much time soaking in the nostalgia of the originals? Yes, and it does hurt the film in the end from really standing up to their greatness, but it doesn't hurt it too much.

On top of which, I thought having Egon as a ghost just worked pretty well. It sucks that Harold Ramis is no longer with us to reprise the role directly, but effectively making the film an homage to his character felt surprisingly fitting and lent the ending a certain amount of heart that it may have otherwise struggled to capture. Similarly, they explained away the absence of ghosts and the current feeling that it may have all been mass paranoia quite well; this is a world where ghosts exist, but it hasn't changed too much, which I thought was nice.

Could elements have been done better? Sure. But it captures a kind of childish excitement about the unknown and layers on top a level of sarcastic wit that makes the original films so great, whilst wrapping the whole lot in a nice little story about family, loss, and not quite fitting in. It's nothing new, but it's still done well enough to make you care, and with a really pretty exceptional central performance from Mckenna Grace, the result is just a lot of fun.

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