Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the ultimate love letter to the original movies; strengthened by the energetic performance of McKenna Grace. Fans are in for a rollercoaster ride of spooktacular action!
The original Ghostbusters is as beloved as George Lucas’ original Star Wars movie. And yet, aside from the magnificent ‘The Real Ghostbusters‘ animated series, nothing has ever recaptured the lightning in a bottle brilliance of Ivan Reitman. Paul Feig attempted to reinvent the franchise with his derided all-female-led reboot in 2016. But it was far from the long-awaited sequel the fans had been hoping for. And for a time, they gave up hope…
Enter Jason Reitman.
Putting himself in the ultimate hot seat, Reitman dared to dream. He pitched an idea that would see him take over the reins from his father and carve out a bold new chapter in Ghostbusters lore. Ghostbusters: Afterlife was born. But can Jason Reitman, with his father at his side really deliver the movie Ghostbusters fans have been dreaming of for well over three decades?
Absolutely. If you were expecting another scathing review where I pull apart another shameful cash grab, look away now. This isn’t that kind of review. As a lifelong fan, I am delighted to say that Afterlife is an absolute blast. Fans can sleep safe in their beds knowing that Jason Reitman has done the unthinkable and delivered THE Ghostbusters sequel we have all been yearning for.
The plot of Afterlife centers on the death of original Ghostbuster Dr. Egon Spengler (the late great Harold Ramis). After a lifetime of busting ghosts; Egon retired to a small town in the middle of nowhere determined to ward off a spectral apocalypse. Left to sort through the rubble of his estate, his estranged daughter, and her two children begin to uncover the legacy attached to the Spengler name. And after sifting through ghost traps, PKE meters, and a large collection of spores, molds, and fungus they begin to uncover the mystery of the town. A sleepy location rocked by seismic tremors stemming from the old, abandoned, Shandor mine.
After an intense and poignant start, Reitman gets to work introducing us to the new characters that will carry his new chapter forwards. Harnessing the brilliance of the kid-centric action movies of the ’80s we are introduced to Phoebe (McKenna Grace), and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard). After moving into his spooky old house, both set off on an escapade to uncover the secrets of their grandfather’s past. But with their new friends Podcast and Lucky in tow, what they find leads them to uncover something very strange in the neighborhood.
Seen from the perspective of the children; led brilliantly by McKenna Grace’s energizing performance, Reitman frames the movie as a heartwarming family comedy. One packed to the brim with jump scares and more eager eggs than you can shake a neutrona wand at! The nods to the original movies are an absolute delight. Fans will get a kick out of spotting all of the tropes and nostalgia items on display – which proves that Jason Reitman has done his homework.
The perfect blend of old and new gives the franchise a whole new lease on life. All the while giving long-term fans the sequel feast they have been craving. As well as giving them the perfect franchise movie to introduce their kids to.
As with most tentpole movies, the success of Ghostbusters: Afterlife hinges on the brilliance of its cast. And I am delighted to report that every member of the cast is up to the challenge. Passing the torch to a new generation of Ghostbusters was always going to be tricky, but Jason Reitman manages it effortlessly. And we are instantly invested in Egon’s estranged family. And leading the charge is McKenna Grace. Cast as Egon’s grandaughter Pheobe, Grace slips into the role with an energetic freshness. And as her story unfolds and she begins to learn who her grandfather was, she grows into the role with zeal. Over the course of its fast-paced 2 hours and four minutes, we witness her growing with confidence as she takes on Egon’s mantle.
A RUDD MASTERCLASS
As always, Paul Rudd gives another winning performance as Mr. Grooberson. And his goofy mannerisms serve as the perfect counterpart to Pheobe’s scientific enthusiasm. Logan Kim’s Podcast is another standout performance. His eccentric conspiracy theorist builds the perfect relationship with Phoebe and grows into the “Ray Stantz” role with joyful enthusiasm. And rounding out the cast are Carrie Coon who delivers a poignant performance as Egon’s estranged daughter Callie.
And of course, we can’t forget about Finn Wolfhard who doesn’t get as much screen time as he deserves, but delivers a memorable performance as Trevor all the same. Thankfully, the Spengler’s go on a journey of self-discovery and confront the familial wounds of the past which culminates in the perfect, heartwarming tribute to the late Harold Ramis. And trust me, tears will be shed!
The winning score from franchise newcomer Rob Simonsen is an absolute joy. With the movie set in Summerville – a sleepy town stuck in an ’80s time warp – the score had to deliver. And boy does it. Fans of the original Ghostbusters are in for a real treat because the backbone of Simonsen’s magical score harnesses the best of Elmer Bernstein’s original masterwork. Many of the famous themes are refreshed and given a contemporary polish which is sure to delight fans everywhere.
Like its predecessors, Afterlife is packed to the brim with memorable spooks. Old friends like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man return in the form of the adorable Mini-Pufts – which will be at the top of every kids’ Christmas wishlist. The classic Terror Dogs look better than ever thanks to a sublime blend of CGI and practical effects. Ecto-1 is back to her brilliant best and is now equipped with a gunner seat first introduced in The Real Ghostbusters. And new ghost Muncher fills the Slimer role to perfection.
But the standout returns go to Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson. Returning as Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Winston Zeddemore respectively, the original Ghostbusters return to deliver the final polish to what is the perfect threequel. And their arrival helps bring the film to its emotional and heartfelt conclusion.
Instead of feeling like Paul Feig’s unwelcome reboot, Afterlife feels like an extension of the original movies. Which is a testament to Reitman’s familiarity with the source material. It’s the ultimate love letter to the original movies; strengthened by the energetic performance of McKenna Grace. It’s a hugely entertaining nostalgia ride that delivers everything a Ghostbusters fan could ever hope for.
With its hauntingly familiar score and effortless ’80s, kid-centric action movie vibe; Jason Reitman breathes new life into the franchise and captures the same lightning in a bottle brilliance that his father did in 1984. And that is a joy to behold.
This sequel has been a long time coming – but with a hefty boost from the Reitman family proton pack, it delivers in a big way!
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is released by Sony Pictures and is in cinemas from Thursday 18th November.
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Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager, and Editor-In-Chief of The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force and babbles frequently!