Movies are no stranger to the likes of ghosts and specters; but when things get strange in the neighborhood, who do you call? If you were raised in 80’s and 90’s (and if you have not been living under rock) you know that’s the call of the Ghostbusters. Since 1984, Ghostbusters had been a pivotal series for not just movies but pop culture as well with a TV series, comic books and video games to its name. Yet despite its extensive reach, there have not been many films in the Ghostbusters franchise. Plans for a third film have been in the works since 90’s with many ideas being discussed, but unfortunately nothing came into fruition. It was not until after the 2016 reboot that word of a continuation resurfaced, but in January 2019 it was made official and the long-awaited sequel was finally underway. So after several delays the next chapter in the Ghostbusters franchise has made its way to the big screen in form of Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
Directed by Jason Reitman (son of Ivan Reitman), Ghostbusters: Afterlife deals with the family of Egon (Harold Ramis) who moves to his country home after his passing. Upon her arrival, Phoebe (McKenna Grace) discovers the truth about her grandfather and the mystery surrounding his death. Along with paying tribute to Harold Raimis (who passed away in 2014), the movie was meant to be a new start for the series by centering on a new cast of characters. To say Ghostbusters: Afterlife had a lot to live up to would be the understatement of the year, but the question remained-was this film worth wait? While I cannot say the film exceeded my expectations, but there is no doubt in my mind that Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a worthy continuation.
The movie deals with the ideas of family as well as legacy and this shows in the movie’s plot. Along with rediscovering the ghost world and how to deal with it, the plot center is the Spengler family and the mystery of why Egon left everything behind. This element was captivating, even if some details were remained unclear, and provided the movie a strong sense of storytelling. While the story had a good direction and compelling ideas, its execution could be abrupt as points such as Phoebe discovering her lineage had sudden resolutions. The story culminates in a finale that rushed certain aspects but certainly entertaining, heartfelt and fitting for story such as this one.
In the case of the cast, this ensemble assuredly lived up to the series’ standards. Each character brought something to the film-be it distinct impressions or enjoyable performances. When it came to the new Ghostbusters, Phoebe was solid as her determination was matched by her awkwardness. Meanwhile her brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) had a good sense of character to him despite his lacking progression. Along with the Spengler siblings, Phoebe’s friend Podcast (Logan Kim) had several show stealing moments while Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), Trevor’s love interest, was an enjoyable addition despite lacking the impact of her cohorts. Along with this impressive band of misfits, the cast had strong supporting characters seen in both Callie Spengler (Carrie Coon), mother of Phoebe and Trevor, and Phoebe’s teacher Mr.Grooberson (Paul Rudd). Mr.Grooberson was particularly memorable thanks to Rudd’s natural charisma. When it came to returning characters, I wish I could say the old crew had a major presence in this movie, but the truth is their roles were minimal. Yet despite their limited screen time, the original cast left a astounding impression as Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray (Dan Aykrody), Janine (Annie Potts) and Winston (Ernie Hudson) were as good as they were back in 1984-and it was great to see that none of them have lost their touch.
Ghostbusters is known for its sense of spectacle as well as its sense of humor, and it was good to see that this was not forgotten in Afterlife. The film’s visuals had a creative flare to them, and the balance between practical and digital effects was impressive. In regards of comedy, the movie was a hilarious experience. Between its sense of wit and outrageous moments, the film’s comedy felt right at home with the rest of the series. In regards of other elements, the music was admirable companion for the film. The music by Rob Simonsen was thematic in nature and its use of the series' classic themes was seamless. All of these factors created an atmosphere that was both refreshing and familiar for the iconic franchise.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife was as much of a solid sequel as it was a stellar film. While some of its details could have been stronger, the movie made up for its problems with its engaging plot, memorable characters and fantastic sense of humor. If this is the start a new chapter for the series, then it is a step in right direction. However, if this ends up being just a standalone sequel then it is a solid entry to be sure. Regardless, while it may not have been worth the wait, Ghostbusters: Afterlife was a fine cinematic experience that answered the call to this cherished series.