A spirited nostalgia trip that aims to please fans of the originals and newcomers to the franchise
When there is something strange in your neighbourhood, who are you gonna call? The Ghostbusters, of course, especially if you want a cinematic escape from all the weirdness that is going on around you.
Luckily, the latest in the franchise has recently hit cinemas and is worth a watch if you’re looking to be entertained. Well, it is in my opinion. Not every review for this movie has been glowing and it seems to have divided people on social media too. Still, I’m not afraid of no posts (sorry) and I went in with an open mind and came out satisfied. Chances are, you might too if you can get past the slime the critics have thrown at it!
Rebooting a beloved movie is always going to cause a divide amongst audiences. You need only look at 2016’s Ghostbusters for evidence of this; an entertaining movie that caused fans of the originals to spit out their cornflakes due to the female casting. Jason Reitman’s sequel has faced a backlash of its own, for very different reasons.
When the original trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife appeared online, people complained that it didn’t look anything like a Ghostbusters movie. And after the movie’s release, people have been criticizing it for gratuitous fan service! It just goes to show: People are fickle! In truth, the movie is both the thing people were worried about after seeing the trailer AND something that plays on nostalgia. Neither of which is a negative, as the movie is very entertaining, despite the response of naysayers on the internet.
When the movie starts, you can be forgiven for thinking this isn’t a Ghostbusters movie. It appears to be more of a family drama, detailing the lives of Callie (Carrie Coon) and her kids, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (McKenna Grace), as they are evicted from their home and forced to start a new life at a rickety old farmhouse in Summerville, Oklahoma. We watch as they try to adjust to their new life, and for a while, there is no hint of any ghostly action at all.
The Oklahoman setting is the reason why some people were concerned after seeing the trailer, as the move away from New York gives it the look and feel of something far different to the original movies.
Still, the ties to those movies soon do become obvious, as we learn that the house that the family are staying in once belonged to Callie’s father, Egon Spengler, one member of the original Ghostbusters team. Phoebe learns more about her grandfather’s identity after discovering his ghostbusting equipment hidden away in the home, and Trevor stumbles across the Ectomobile that has been conveniently tucked away in the farm’s garage.
These aren’t the only throwbacks to the original movies. After uncovering a supernatural threat that could bring about the end of the world, the teens come face to face with apparitions and monstrosities that will be very familiar to fans of the 1984 original. Seeing them in the Oklahoman setting is a little weird (hence the fan service complaints), but they do make sense in the context of the story, even if they are here to pander to people’s nostalgia.
In terms of acting, everybody brings their A-game. Callie Coon is as dependable as ever, and Wolfhard and Grace both demonstrate why they are two of the finest young actors working today. Mention must also be given to Paul Rudd, who hilariously turns up as a potential love interest for Callie, and Logan Kim, an up-and-coming young actor, who gives a riveting performance as Phoebe’s motor-mouthed classmate, Podcast. Certain faces from the original movies also make a return, although I won’t give away who if you would prefer to avoid any spoilers.
If you go into the movie with an open mind, you shouldn’t be disappointed. It captures the feel of the originals, despite a brand new setting, and the writing, courtesy of City of Embers‘ Gil Kenan, is often hilarious. The visuals are great too, with the use of both practical and CGI special effects to bring to life the movie’s spectral creations.
Overall, the movie is very good and while there might be the occasional plot hole, these shouldn’t be enough to diminish the great time you can expect to have in the cinema or at home when the movie finally lands on streaming services. Unless, of course, you are one of those people who, after seeing the movie, still think that it’s too much like the original Ghostbusters or that it’s not like Ghostbusters enough!
In trying to do his own thing, while still paying fan service, Jason Reitman has had to walk a tricky fine line when putting the movie together. As such, he has faced the impossible task of trying to please everybody. What we have here is one of the better family movies of the year; a spirited nostalgia trip that also aims to entertain.
Whether you’re a fan of the originals or not, there should, in theory, be enough here to satisfy you. If not? Well, it’s probably best that you turn your attention elsewhere instead of calling on the Ghostbusters the next time you’re in the mood for a movie!
Verdict - 7.5/10