Ghostbusters: Afterlife – A Nostalgia Driven Sequel That Doesn’t Quite Recapture the Magic – Film Review

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) - IMDb

Director: Jason Reitman

Writers: Gil Kenan and Jason Reitman

Starring: Mckenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Logan Kim, Celeste O’Connor, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, and J.K. Simmons

Rating: ★★★

After three decades of rejected scripts, false starts, a remake and even a video-game (that does a pretty decent job of acting like a third film), a third Ghostbusters is finally here. This time co-written and directed by Jason Reitman, the son of original director Ivan Reitman. This was a film made for the fans, bringing together the original cast as well as a new generation of Ghostbusters.

In the three decades since the second Ghostbusters film, Egon Spengler moved to Summerville, leaving his friends and family behind. After his suspected heart attack his daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) takes her children to her late father’s farm to try and tidy up his estate. While there Callie’s children, Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) go about their daily lives, slowly uncovering the mysteries of Summerville as well as their family’s legacy.   

The new characters are pretty good. A lot better than the over-the-top caricatures of the 2016 remake. Trevor and Phoebe are likable characters who are good at discovering and continuing the legacy that their grandfather left them. When Podcast (Logan Kim) is introduced it does feel like he’s going to be a caricature that belongs in the 2016, but don’t judge him by his name. By the end he feels like a fully fledged member of the team. The stand out character from the newcomers is Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), he’s a quirky school teacher who couldn’t care less about teaching, and is only there to investigate the daily earthquakes. He leaves the children to watch horror films while he continues his investigation. Paul Rudd is fantastic and the funniest character in the film.

There isn’t as much humour as you’d expect in a Ghostbusters film. While there are a couple of proper laugh out loud moments, they are few and far between. There are a few smile-worthy moments, but beyond that it’s more focused on the action. The mini stay-puft marshmallow men are funny and cute. There just isn’t a lot of great comedy moments. It’s also the longest film in the franchise, coming in at a little over two hours. It does feel it at points. Once it gets going it’s good, but it’s a slow start and does start to slump at points.

As expected, the film is completely rooted in nostalgia. There are familiar music queues, references, and the original cast. This is pure fan service, doing exactly what Jason Reitman promised when he first announced the film a few years ago. It’s good to see the brief reappearance of the original cast, and the film doesn’t rely on them at all. It even achieves something that the recent Star Wars reboots didn’t, in having the original ghostbusters on screen together at the same time, something even the most cynical of fans will have to smile about.

Ultimately it fails to live up to the original two. While it has some charm and Paul Rudd is a brilliant as ever, it just isn’t the same. Maybe it’s a few decades too late, or maybe it just shouldn’t have been made at all.

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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