Ghostbusters: Afterlife Movie Review
There was a time when people were still clamoring for a second Ghostbusters sequel. That was over two decades ago. Now, 32 years after Ghostbusters II, Jason Reitman takes the reins from his father to give us a direct, nostalgic-filled sequel, albeit with a new cast and a modern spin.
I grew up with the original movies, and, as a kid of the 80s, the cartoon show. For a time, I would have loved to see Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, and Harold Ramis back to fight evil spirits. Instead, we got the 2016 remake, a movie that failed not because it starred all women but because it both changed the characters and the tone a generation of fans had grown to love. It was a straight-up comedy that was awkwardly not funny.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is odd in that the primary cast is a group of teens, headlined by Mckenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Logan Kim, and Celeste O’Connor, with Carrie Coon and Paul Rudd as the two adult stars. And yet this new movie taps into the nostalgia I was looking for, updating elements for modern times while serving as a direct and surprisingly satisfying sequel.
The teen cast is great, though your take will depend on your tolerance for kids doing kid things. Mckenna lobs cringey kid/dad jokes with a dark spin, Kim is hilarious as her sidekick, and Wolfhard is solid.
Reitman and co-writer Gil Kenan’s screenplay certainly plays hard to sentiments of the original’s fanbase, a risky venture since their movie is in many ways a kid’s film. But they mix those elements with an intriguing if predictable mystery that blends seriousness with humor, horror with comedy. Even if the characters and storyline are the same, the tone feels familiar. Comforting.
Where Reitman and Kenan go too far is in the third act, which crumbles under the weight of their nostalgic trip. For some reason, Ghostbusters: Afterlife decides to rehash the exact same villain from the original--Gozer--which means the return of the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper. This time around, though, Gozer’s reemergence tastes like empty remake calories. The movie could have kept the exact same story but created a new villain to avoid unnecessary comparisons, yet sadly Reitman goes the path of least originality. It’s not quite in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker territory, but it’s an easily missed opportunity.
Despite its stumbles in the end, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is an effective sequel that certainly won’t be considered the next cult classic, but that should give fans of the original more than enough to enjoy.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.