Ghostbusters: Afterlife – Film Review

Sony

I love the Ghostbusters franchise and was excited to see how Jason Reitman would fare taking over from his father Ivan – and I’m pleased to report that Ghostbusters: Afterlife does not disappoint.

The film follows Callie (Carrie Coon) and her children Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) as they are evicted from their home and forced to move to a decaying house in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma. It once belonged to Callie’s late father – Egon Spengler (the late Harold Ramis) – who upped sticks and left his family without warning when she was young to move to the farmhouse – and she finally figures out why when supernatural beings start to appear.

Reitman does a solid job of balancing the old with the new and gives the franchise a new lease of life. It is incredibly nostalgic, with plenty of references and Easter Eggs to the 1984 original throughout, but he also manages to make it feel like its own thing. You could probably enjoy this as a standalone film but I wouldn’t recommend it – you’ll have a richer, more exciting experience if you’ve watched the 1980s movies first. That’s because Reitman takes the fan service a bit too far and borrows too much from the original towards the end.

For this reason, I enjoyed the first half far more than the second. I loved meeting these new characters, learning more about Spengler’s old house and what he was up to, watching know-it-all science whizz Phoebe figuring out her connection to the Ghostbusters and the first outings of Ecto-1, the proton packs and ghost traps and of course, our first ghost sighting! I also think the script was stronger and funnier in this half. The family – plus Paul Rudd as teacher Mr. Grooberson and Logan Kim as Phoebe’s kooky buddy Podcast – were given some fantastically witty lines that made me laugh out loud often.

However, the narrative became messier as the film approached its finale. The plot wasn’t explained very well so I found it quite confusing. It seemed like Reitman worked on the assumption that everybody knows the 1984 film super well whereas I’ve not seen it for years so take my advice and have a rewatch. There are plenty of cameos – some old faces, some new – to keep an eye out for and while it brought me pure joy to see some of them, I didn’t love them all. Some felt meaningful and with a purpose while others felt like a box-ticking exercise for the fans.

The star of the show is Grace. The child star has been amazing in earlier roles such as Gifted, I, Tonya and The Handmaid’s Tale and she just keeps getting better. This film was a change of pace for her and she seemed to have a ball with it. I loved her awkward outsider character, her unashamed cleverness, her lame jokes and her friendship with Podcast. Kim has established himself as one to watch with his first-ever movie role. His comic timing, facial expressions, line delivery and general personality are spot-on and he is given so many great lines that he simply nails. He is hilarious and I’d like to see more of him please.

We all know Rudd is funny as hell but I think this should be reiterated because he is so great here (I want to see his supermarket scene again) while I just adore watching Coon’s effortless acting style. Wolfhard is the new boy in town trying hard to fit in and Celeste O’Connor rounds out the young foursome as Lucky, who isn’t fleshed out very much.

It’s not perfect by any means but Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a fun, entertaining ride that will make fans of the franchise very happy. Make sure you still until the very end of the credits.

In cinemas Thursday 18th November

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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