Ghostbusters: Afterlife – A Movie Review

I’ve always been a lifelong Ghostbusters fan. I loved the movies, had the toys, watched the cartoon, and even tried to make my own proton pack out of cardboard boxes back in the day. I constantly wanted more of Peter, Egon, Ray, Winston, and the rest of the gang up on the silver screen, but it never seemed destined to happen. Heck, I even supported the Ghostbusters reboot with Kristen Wiig (and still do)!

So when I saw the photo of the Ecto-1 covered in a tarp while in an old barn, I got very excited, but also a little confused. What exactly was going on there? Was this Wiig’s Ghostbusters? Was this another reboot? Was it the old gang getting back together? How is that possible due to the unfortunate passing of Harold Ramis in 2014?

Without spoiling anything, Ghostbusters: Afterlife disregards Wiig’s Ghostbusters and essentially functions as Ghostbusters III. It fully acknowledges the 80s Ghostbusters and, in a very real way, continues that storyline.

The plot centers around a grown woman whose father passed away in Oklahoma. She is down on her luck, broke, and completely estranged from her dad. She gathers up her 12 and 15 year old kids and heads to Oklahoma in the hopes of gaining some kind of inheritance. All she gets is an old, creepy house, a dirt farm, a dilatated barn, and–for some reason–Ecto-1.

The two kids, played by Mckenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard, actually carve out their own little niche in the small town as their mom, played by Carrie Coon, becomes involved with a local teacher played by Paul Rudd. The first half of the movie focusses on the kids’ slowly discovering who their grandfather actually was as they tinker with his gear and experience strange abnormalities. Before long, as you would expect, ghosts start popping up. The last half of the movie is full-on fun, surprisingly sentimental, and overflowing with just the right amount of nostalgic fan service. I mean that as a real compliment–no snark here.

If you loved the 80s Ghostbusters movies, you’ll love Ghostbusters: Afterlife. The music is similar, the effects are similar, even the story is honestly pretty similar once you reach that last half. It’s no accident that Jason Reitman wrote and directed Ghostbusters: Afterlife. His dad, Ivan Reitman, directed the original two. This is obviously a love letter to what came before and a proper goodbye to Harold Ramis.

Yet, even though the nostalgia is high, Ghostbusters: Afterlife also sets up a lot of future possibilities. I wouldn’t say it’s a coincidence that Finn Wolfhard is in this film. He’s one of the kids from Stranger Things as well as the two recent It movies. I think they plan to partly build the franchise around him. Mckenna Grace plays his sister, and she’s actually the star of the film. Her character, Phoebe, has the most in common with her grandpa and is a ton of fun to celebrate. Plus, her only friend named Podcast, played by Logan Kim, is an absolute joy. You’ll see what I mean.

Let’s not forget the two Hollywood heavyweights in the movie–Paul Rudd and Carrie Coon. It doesn’t get much better than these two. Reitman has a cast with ample chemistry and oodles of charisma. I’d be more than happy to keep watching them all together for years to come.

But … there’s even more to it than that. I won’t give anything away, but there are two distinct future storylines already at play, one for the old, and one for the new. I have no doubt they’ll eventually converge. Speaking of which, be sure to sit through ALL of the credits.

So, I could have saved you a lot of time by simply writing this one phrase: If you love Ghostbusters, you’ll love Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Ghostbusters (2016) – A Movie Review

If you have a chance to make it to the theater to see this, I recommend you do.

I loved the original Ghostbusters.  I still remember sitting in the theater as a little kid, being a little more afraid than I expected, and laughing  at those jokes I actually understood.  (As an adult, I realize now there was quite a bit of humor that went over my head.)

When I heard they were introducing a new cast with some of the funniest ladies in the business, I got really excited.   I mean, who doesn’t want a Ghostbusters with today’s special effects?  And in an era of reboots and reimaginings, I appreciated that they were introducing a completely new element by featuring female leads.  Best of all, yes, these ladies are Ghostbusters, but they are totally independent characters from the original.  There is no legacy here, it’s a fresh start.  Of course, certain elements we love must remain, which they do, but they also followed their own path to a large degree.

I guess I shouldn’t say there is no legacy at all, though.  I won’t spoil anything, but there are cameos galore, and every one of them is satisfying.  (Oh, and stay through the credits.  There’s a certain mention you won’t want to miss, especially if you’re a fan of the original movie.)

In fact, that’s how I would describe this iteration of Ghostbusters.  It’s satisfying.  I laughed through the whole thing, as did my wife.  It didn’t blow us away, but it was a fun date movie with plenty of laughs.   Speaking of laughs, Chris Hemsworth played the dimwitted secretary, and he showed his comedic talent as well.  In fact, no spoilers here, but his role ended up being much bigger than anticipated.

I’ll admit that parts of the movie felt a little disconnected – there were moments it seemed to be a series of comedic skits.  And while they attempted a cohesive story, it never quite achieved connectivity throughout.  But, let’s be honest, I don’t think anyone shot for too much depth with this story line.  Let’s not make it more than it needed to be.

However, it did need to look great, and the special effects were a treat.  The director, Paul Feig, is not an action movie guy, but he actually had far more adventure and effects than I guessed he would.  The proton packs were fantastic, the ghosts looked amazing, and the scale of the movie proved bigger than I expected.

The bottom line is that the ladies are really funny, the special effects are amazing, and the cameos were perfect.  If you’re looking for a fun summer movie to take in with a significant other, Ghostbusters won’t disappoint.