They have the tools, but do they have the talent?
As a child raised in the 80s, the Ghostbusters is one of many franchises from the Reagan Era that I have truly enjoyed and became a fan of. Like most kids, I have watched the movies time and time again, watched the cartoons and played with the toys. So, when it was announced that after thirty years, the popular paranormal investigators/eliminators would be getting what could their farewell film, I got excited. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a direct sequel to the two original films in the franchise, ignoring the 2016 reboot entirely.
This film, for me, was about the nostalgia. There were many references to keep fans enticed with nods toward the original films and the 2009 Ghostbusters video game. The pace of Afterlife may have been a bit slow for some tastes, but it was necessary to tell a story – Egon’s story. This film served as a tribute not only to the Egon Spangler character but also to Harold Ramis who passed away in 2014. For the most part, the film flows at almost the same pace as the first Ghostbusters film with Egon’s grandchildren learning of the coming paranormal threat and preparing the equipment – the Proton packs, Ghost Traps and Ecto-1 – to combat it. Though Egon had died, his presence is still felt as she assists his granddaughter in repairing the Ghostbusters equipment. It is a tender moment that shows that Egon has a love for something other than science. This is shown again when he leads his estranged daughter Callie to his secret lab where she finds a wall chronicling her life and all her achievements, showing that he truly did care for her.
If anything, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a better reboot movie that the 2016 film as there are many callbacks to the first film. Ivo Shandor and Gozer the Gozerian are once again prominent figures as they were in the 1984 original film and 2009 video game. As we have seen in the trailers, Mr. Stay-Puft makes a return via mini versions of iconic gelatinous kaiju as well as Gozer’s minions Vinz Clortho, the Keymaster and Zuul, the Gatekeeper, who possess the bodies of Callie Spengler, Egon’s estranged daughter, and Gary Gooberson, a seismologist and Ghostbusters’ fan-boy. I found it enjoyable how Callie and Gary were targeted in similar manners to Lewis Tulley and Dana Barret from the first movie. I even found myself reciting the lines of the latter characters. Another key point is the music. Composer Rob Simonson does a fine job of following original composer Ernie Bernstein’s work and keeping the familiar score of the previous films.
Now that they have the tools, do they have the talent? I have enjoyed Mckenna Grace as Pheobe Spengler. She is an enjoyable character, and she does a good job of bringing the awkward, strait-laced scientist vibe that Harold Ramis brought to Egon. Finn Wolfhard is known for portraying quirky characters as we have seen from his roles in Stranger Things, the 2017 “It” movie and its 2019 sequel. Here, his tone changes with Trevor Spengler, portraying an awkward teenager trying to adjust to life itself. This shows that Wolfhard can have range in his acting. Additionally, Ghostbusters: Afterlife does have a “Stranger Things” vibe to it which works out for the young actor. The highlight moment for me was seeing the original cast back for another round as their Ghostbusters characters and not background cameos as they were shown in the 2016 reboot. They appearances were brief, however, this did help ground the film into the Ghostbuster franchise.
Where there may be fans who have found something negative about Ghostbusters: Afterlife, I have no qualms about it. There may be issues with the setting being changed from Manhattan, but I believe this change helped contain the film a little more. The metropolitan atmosphere was not needed for Afterlife, and it still turned out to be just an entertaining as the previous entries. The cast is easily relatable and could generate a new fanbase. Overall, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a worthy sequel to a beloved franchise with nostalgia that takes fans back to era of the Manhattan Cross-Rip of 1984 that features a relatable and entertaining cast to draw in new fans. Most of all, it gives a proper farewell to Harold Ramis while paying tribute to the legacy he has left behind.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife gets 4 out of 5.