This review is spoiler-free.
Before getting into the review, I’m going to say from the off that this is not a film solely relying on nostalgia and fan service or trying to cater to the misogynists who dumped their toxicity all over Ghostbusters: Answer The Call. For me, this was a film that beautifully honoured the memory and legacy of Harold Ramis while simultaneously setting up a new and exciting future for the Ghostbusters franchise.
With that said, let’s move on to the review!
In terms of the cast, there are two clear standout performers in Mckenna Grace (Phoebe) and Logan Kim (Podcast). Mckenna Grace was simply phenomenal and carried this movie on her shoulders with ease. She oozed those Egon traits we know and love so well, but at the same time definitely made Phoebe her own unique character. This wasn’t just a case of trying to ‘replicate Egon’, there was much more to her performance and character than that. As for Logan Kim, his comedy timing was exceptional for such a young actor and he was a joy to watch every time he appeared on the screen. We also had Finn Wolfhard (Trevor) and Celeste O’Connor (Lucky) who were both perfectly fine in their respective roles, they just weren’t at the same level as Grace and Kim. As for the ‘adult cast’, Carrie Coon (Callie) and Paul Rudd (Gary) both had their moments to shine, without ever really taking the focus off the younger performers. It was the right blend. Coon managed to land some powerful and emotional hits and Paul Rudd was Paul Rudd – he’s always a safe casting choice.
As for the story, I think it’s fair to say they do revisit some plot notes of the original movie, in a similar fashion to The Force Awakens, but personally, I think this was the best approach. There was that sense of familiarity, but I feel the impact and story direction of the young cast does more than enough to allow the film to be its own thing. Pacing wise, the film flies by and nothing feels rushed or dragged out. The bookends of the film had me in tears both times and I didn’t expect to have as much of a physical and emotional reaction to it as I did. This was very much about moving the franchise forwards and passing the torch from the 80s to the present and beyond.
So, what didn’t work with Ghostbusters: Afterlife?
My biggest complaint would be the way in which the musical and score elements were used in multiple scenes. These classic Ghostbusters’ themes were, at times, overused and on more than one occasion they just didn’t fit with the on-screen visuals. So, the way in which the musical themes were used was a bit of a mess overall. Does it completely ruin the movie? Of course not! But it was a little messy, and being taken out of these moments, albeit momentarily, was a little frustrating.
Secondly, there was one particular subplot between Callie (Coon) and Gary (Rudd) that was a re-tread of a familiar Ghostbusters story, and, for me, it just didn’t work. The humour was unintentionally awkward and the scene was so far removed from the rest of the movie’s tone that I found myself physically wincing. Ultimately these factors, along with a few story issues, are not detrimental in terms of the overall enjoyment and experience of the movie.
Is Ghostbusters: Afterlife a success? Well, according to the weekend box office and fan reaction, I’d say that it most definitely is! It is by no means a flawless movie, but I left the cinema on such a high, I might as well have been covered in pink slime! Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan definitely understood the brief and the care that was taken, not only to honour the legacy of Harold Ramis but to set the Ghostbusters franchise up for future adventures was outstanding.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is an incredibly moving and highly enjoyable movie that blends the right amount of nostalgia with a view to freshening up and realigning the future direction of the franchise. At its core, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is packed full of heart and what it means to be a family. This felt like a passing of the torch event, and I can only hope that we continue down this path to a long and bright future of bustin’ ghosts!