Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Directed by Jason Reitman

Starring McKenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Carrie Coon, Logan Kim, Celeste O’Connor, and Paul Rudd, with special appearances by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts

Backstory

Sony is really trying hard to do something with Ghostbusters. After the 2016 reboot failed to thrill fans or the box office, they decided to try again. It seemed like “legacy” was going to be the theme this time out, as exemplified by the director, Jason Reitman. Reitman made his name as the director of quirky, indie-style films, most notably Juno. But his father is director Ivan Reitman, who gave us the original Ghostbusters. When the first trailer came out, I couldn’t help but note that they were leaning heavily into nostalgia for the original film. As I tweeted, I was conflicted heading into the theatre. Would it just be one massive nostalgia wank for the original film, like Jurassic World was to Jurassic Park? But on the other hand, I love the nostalgia.

Plot

Callie has fallen on hard times. She’s broke, still bitter about her estranged father walking out on her, and is struggling to connect with her two kids: Trevor, who’s going through the usual teenage maladies, and Phoebe, who’s passionate about science and not much else. Callie eventually gets word that her father has died, and with nowhere else to go, she and the kids pack up and move to her father’s dilapidated farmhouse in Summerville, Oklahoma. Phoebe finds a kindred spirit in Mr. Grooberson, the local science teacher. Summerville is plagued by mysterious earthquakes, and Grooberson is investigating. As Phoebe pokes around the old farmhouse, she eventually learns the truth: her grandfather was the legendary Ghostbuster Egon Spengler. Turns out there’s something strange in this neighbourhood. It’s so big and so dire that Egon turned his back on his friends and family to fight it. Will Phoebe, Trevor, and their newfound friends be able to finish Egon’s work and save the world?

What I Liked

Firstly, a little bit of local pride. The entire film was filmed in Southern Alberta, with the Alberta Badlands filling in for Oklahoma, and man, does it look gorgeous on the big screen. The kids are great, as it is mainly their story. McKenna Grace does a wonderful job as Egon’s granddaughter, almost coming across as a little Egon. All the performances are great. I noticed a great use of practical effects, too, as I’m pretty sure some of the ghosts were old school animatronics. It’s also nice that it has some slow spots, to allow our characters to grow and breathe. The score is pretty good, as it most reinterprets the score from the original film.

What I Didn’t Like

Unlike the other Ghostbusters films, this one almost actively avoids being a comedy, and leans more into the sci-fi/fantasy aspects. Don’t get me wrong, it has some great funny moments, but you’re not got going to be quoting it for the next 30 years like the original film.

Final Verdict

I was afraid that the laughs had been replaced with nostalgia, but instead, they were replaced with heart. Wound up being a touching tale about coming to terms with your past and finding your place in the world.

3 Nibs

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