A Review of Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)
January 27, 2022
Ghostbusters: Afterlife was directed by Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air) - the son of the director of the original Ghostbusters movies. The movie was released in theaters on November 19, 2021, in the United States. I was able to see this movie during the Fall Break on November 24, 2021, at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema along with some family.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife was one of the movies I was the most scared to see this year because I have a deep nostalgia and love for the original Ghostbusters film from 1984. I questioned what the point of bringing back such a beloved ‘80s classic would be. We live in an age where most new films that get attention are either a sequel, prequel, spin-off, or reboot; a lot of the time only being made for the sake of raking in some money. When I heard that Ghostbusters was making a comeback, I got extremely anxious that it would just be another cash grab rather than a well-crafted film with a coherent reason to be made. Luckily, I didn’t need to worry. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a super fun time. I think fans of the original movie will be satisfied with this new entry to the series.
The cast was all unsurprisingly exceptional, seeing that Mckenna Grace (Gifted, Captain Marvel, Troop Zero), Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things, It (2017), The Goldfinch), and Paul Rudd (Ant-Man, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers) are all part of the main cast; it’s hard to imagine not-great performances from them. Mckenna Grace is especially fantastic as Phoebe—an incredibly intelligent twelve-year-old girl who has a love for science—that has just moved with her family to her grandfather’s old house. I think she is one of the best child actresses in recent years and perfectly understood how to portray her character. One character, played by newcomer Logan Kim, plays Phoebe’s classmate, Podcast. Podcast is the comedic relief for a lot of the movie and most of the time he is very funny, but sometimes his one-line quips do not fit in with the scene and he can be someone that I see people finding annoying. Similar to Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
One thing that will be hard to avoid when reading a review about Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the fan service that this movie contains. I’m guilty of this. There are many references to the original ‘80s film to please the fans that are just fun nods, but many will argue that there is an overabundance of fan service in the movie, mainly when it feels like the movie can’t stand on its own, and uses the reliance of nostalgia to distract you from a scene. In some cases, I find this argument reasonable, especially during the latter part of the movie, where the fan service affects the story rather than just being a fun easter egg. But the story itself is already great before that lull. Its done all the work with setting up new characters and an original, engaging plot before that bit to get you invested and to where it can feel earned.
What I look for the most when it comes to a remake or a new film that is part of a series is if it has a reason for being created. What new addition does the director want to add to the series? What will be different than the original movie? What is the purpose of them telling this story? To my wishes, Ghostbusters: Afterlife has a clear reason for its existence. The film adds more lore and mythology to the Ghostbusters world that helps build upon the events in the original movie and gives a fresh perspective from new characters. It also is a remembrance of the late Harold Ramis, who played Egon Spangler in Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II from ‘84 to ‘89, and who passed away in 2014.
Overall, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a very entertaining movie that fans of the original can have fun with. Even if you haven’t seen the original films, you can still enjoy the new film with some friends.