When Ghostbusters first released in the 80s, moviegoers everywhere fell in love with the unique sci-fi comedy because of its memorable characters, quotable dialogue, and unique special effects. The film obviously spawned a sequel and even a couple of animated series, but it sort of vanished as a franchise for an unfortunately long time. There was a missed attempt to reboot the film series in 2016, but it wasn’t what fans wanted. Now, a direct canon sequel to the classic 80s films has been released known as Ghostbusters: Afterlife which features the classic characters while introducing the world to some brand new faces. Is it closer to what Ghostbusters fans have been craving for decades, or should it be locked away for eternity? Let’s investigate further to find out.
Spoilers for Ghostbusters: Afterlife lurk ahead.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife introduces us to new characters to the iconic film series. They’re each fantastic additions to the franchise, but three in particular completely steal the show and are especially well-written and entertaining. Phoebe, the movie’s protagonist, wins the audience over with her awkwardness, big brains, love of science, cheesy jokes, and longing to fit in more. She’s easily one of the best original movie characters we have been introduced to in quite a while. Podcast is absolutely hilarious and shows his unique sense of humor throughout. He also adds a lot of heart to the film, as he’s incredibly encouraging to those around him and he’s a bit of an underdog that the audience can’t help but to fight for. Mr. Grooberson is essentially Paul Rudd playing Paul Rudd, but that’s hard not to love. He has some outstanding one-liners while offering a lot of the science jargon and exposition needed to carry the film’s plot along. Each of the new characters are definitely welcome to the world of Ghostbusters.
In a world where most movies try to copy the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s humor, it’s refreshing that Ghostbusters: Afterlife keeps things dry and sarcastic like the humor seen in the classic movies. The jokes are witty and perfectly timed while also feeling organic to how each of the characters would respond and act in a given situation. Because of this, big laughs are had from start to finish without ever distracting from the intriguing story or the heartfelt emotion.
Speaking of the story, it’s probably a safe bet that many audience members went into the movie concerned that it would follow the same formula as its predecessors while simply reskinning some elements like we’ve seen time and time again with other Hollywood reboots. However, Ghostbusters: Afterlife was thankfully made to be its own entity with its own formula. It doesn’t ignore what came before, but it creates a brand new story out of what already exists. It’s not just a reskin of the first movie, and it doesn’t get carried away with distracting gratuitous references that only exist to make you remember older movies. This is exactly how a movie series should be revived.
Even though Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the third film in the canon and is tasked with reviving a decades-old series, it still feels like a fantastic standalone movie. Someone who has never seen the other Ghostbusters movies could watch this and enjoy it without having questions or ever feeling lost. Any necessary information is organically explained without those explanations feeling out of place. That being said, it’s chock full of everything the existing fans have been craving. The characters and other elements from the existing films are all there, and they’re incorporated well. Director and writer Jason Reitman and his colleagues found a way to balance it all brilliantly.
This is without a doubt the most emotional Ghostbusters film yet. There is a ton of heart throughout, and a lot of emotional moments between the characters. With Callie wishing to be able to connect with her daughter more and wishing she had more of a relationship with her father before he left her, Phoebe fighting to fit in, and how much of an homage this is to the life of Harold Ramis, it’s hard to watch with dry eyes. This is a rather unique movie that found a way to make the audience ball their eyes out and laugh hysterically at the same time.
The film’s music score is extremely reminiscent of the original movie’s, but with its own twist on it. There are moments when it feels ominous, and moments where it’s upbeat and exciting. The score feels nostalgic while also standing out from other films, which I imagine is rather difficult to pull off. It helps guide the tone of the movie extremely well.
This is Ghostnbusters after all, so there needs to be some fun ghost designs, and the movie absolutely delivers on that. From a stretchy eyeball ghost, to a zombie miner, and a terrifying Gozerian werewolf beast, each ghost has their own identity and stands out from each other. Some seem more cartoony and humorous, while some are just plain creepy. The best ghost in the film, though, is Muncher. He’s clearly inspired by Slimer, but still feels like his own character. He’s funny and cute, but also proves himself to be a threat for the Ghostbusters to battle against. He even unknowingly helps save the day at one point. Assuming more sequels are made, it’s doubtful that this is the last time we’ll see Muncher.
Where the original film offered special effects unlike the world has ever seen at the time, it’s important that Afterlife does as well. The CGI effects of the ghosts, the lasers from the proton packs, and the storm that forms over Gozer’s shrine are all essentially updated takes on the effects used back in 1984 and all look incredible and lifelike. What’s even more impressive, though, are the traditional effects used throughout. There’s a moment where a Terror Dog is front in center in a Walmart and the camera lingers on it for a while. It’s completely created with traditional effects and it looks completely real. The same goes for the zombie miner. I’ve forgotten how great traditional effects can look, and they truly make these terrifying creatures look real during the movie.
This movie builds on the existing lore quite nicely. There’s some more explanation as to who and what Gozer is, including more about who built her shrines. Plus, there’s an update as to what each of the classic Ghostbusters have been up to since the 80s. It’s nice that, even though this feels like a standalone film, that it still builds upon information we already know in order to create something new. The most entertaining update is how the Ghostbuster tech has been improved. There’s a remote control ghost trap on wheels and the Ecto-1 has a gunner seat. They even got creative as to what could be used as a ghost trap. It’s a fun way to keep the ghost-catching feel fresh.
Throughout the movie is an underlying theme of belonging and finding one’s place. The main family is literally forced to move to a new place where they don’t belong. Trevor quickly finds a group where he belongs at the burger joint he applies to work at, but definitely still feels like the new guy who needs to earn his place. Phoebe struggles to make friends, but eventually finds one in another outcast, Podcast. Podcast’s podcast only has one subscriber, and it’s Ray, who works at an occult shop who is likely into stranger things than other people. There is also a focus on the idea of finding one’s strengths and how one’s differences are their strengths. These themes are ones that any audience member can relate to and add even more heart throughout the film.
There are post credits sequences that set up even more to come. This movie is thrilling and captivating from start to finish, so the thought of more being on the way is even more exciting.
Three of the new Ghostbusters seem to fall into specific roles on the team. Phoebe is the scientist and she handles the proton pack shooting more. Podcast is more interested in the paranormal and is the one who controls the ghost trap. Trevor is the mechanic and drives the Ecto-1. Then there’s Lucky… who is just sort of there so they have a fourth Ghostbuster. She’s not a bad character by any means, but she doesn’t seem to have a role on the team quite yet. Where her father is a cop, perhaps she could be the one to fall into the investigator role in a future sequel. Until then, it was a bit awkward to see her among characters who have a focus on the team.
As a Ghostbusters fan, I’ve always wanted to see them take on new and different ghostly threats. Seeing Gozer used as a big bad once again is a bit of a let down since it’s already been done. That being said, they did a fantastic job doing something different with the same threat, and a new spectral villain could always be used in a future sequel.
Countless laughs, tears, and cheers were had throughout Ghostbusters: Afterlife. A family sitting in the same row in the theater literally cheered, and not to applaud the movie during the credits. What was on the screen was so exciting that they cheered while the movie was still playing. After the movie, a little girl was heard telling her mother that she now wants to see the other Ghostbusters movies. That speaks volumes as to how entertaining this movie is.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is exceptionally fun, extremely emotional, uproariously hilarious, introduces moviegoers to fantastic characters, contains an intriguing story and clever themes, and builds on the world of Ghostbusters while also offering something new. It succeeds in just about every way and is everything a movie should be. If you’re looking for one of the best movies you’ve seen in a while, you know who you’re gonna call. GHOSTBUSTERS!