Ghostbusters: Afterlife should have hit theaters in 2020. But that damned pandemic threw a spanner in the works. The real fans have had to wait more than 30 years for a sequel. Then an extra year won’t hurt either.
Ghostbusters: Whaddaya want?!
The film opens spectacularly. A truck drives away from a mine and is chased by something trying to push it off the road. The driver escapes and walks to the door of his imposing wooden house. There he holds a ghost trap in his hand as he looks defiantly at the apparition that follows him. His plan doesn’t work and this ‘unknown’ dies in his chair. The observant viewer has long known that we are dealing with Egon Spengler here.
What follows is known from the trailers . A family consisting of a son, daughter and a mother arrives in the village of Summerville. They have been more or less evicted from their home and forced to experience the legacy of the woman’s father. His house needs to be mucked up. Janine, the former Ghostbusters secretary, shows up and tells them that Grandfather Love was mostly in debt.
So the family will remain in Summerville for the time being. The children go to school there and try to participate in the community a bit. They find a match in their teacher Mr Gooberson. A wandering soul with a penchant for the paranormal. He involves them in his search for the cause of the mysterious earthquakes that ravage the village. Little do they know that an ancient evil is about to return.
A ghost never leaves a haunted house
A large core of fans has been waiting for this film for more than thirty years. After the failed attempt of 2016, they now get what they want. Or secretly not quite? In some official reviews, this print is accused of being ordinary fan service. That accusation is understandable because it is largely built on the foundations of the first film from 1984. Yet it is also not justified.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a film that traded subtlety for accessibility. She is carried by McKenna Grace ( Captain Marvel ) in the role of Chloe. She plays the role of the daughter who is the outsider of her family with gusto. Her mother Callie Spengler (Carrie Coon, The Leftovers ) is especially bitter. She is always behind the times in her life. She partly blames her father Egon for abandoning the family and growing up without him. In Chloe, she recognizes her father’s passionate curiosity and eccentricity. She therefore especially encourages her daughter not to be herself. Something in which she is supported by Chloe’s brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard, Stranger Things) .
In the opener of the film we see how the PKE meter goes out after Egon dies in his chair from a heart attack. From that point on, it’s already clear what to expect. With subtle hints, Chloe is sent through the house and across the vast property to learn more and more about her legacy. It’s ironic that the nerdy Chloe is the only one who feels right at home in the village of Summerville. She soon becomes close friends with the eccentric owner “Podcast” (Logan Kim) and is, in a sense, spiritually adopted by her teacher Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd).
As a viewer, you can’t help but sympathize with Chloe. Her life would have been a lot better if she’d had a grandfather who understood her. What Egon has been eating over the past thirty years is really just bycatch. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is mainly the story of a girl who finds her place in life. And that in itself is touching.
Unfortunately, this storyline is so dominant that everything else is completely overshadowed. The most painful example of this is Lucky Domingo (Celeste O’Connor) who merely serves as a possible sweetheart for Trevor. This character is mainly eye candy and serves no purpose whatsoever. There are so many sloppily worked out points. But hey, accessibility above all else.
Paul Rudd mainly plays his amiable self but that character could have been more. Another thing that is oddly overshadowed is the return of three old friends.
There they are!
The last trailer already gave away a bit of how the remaining Ghostbusters would appear on the scene. Does it deliver the kick you hope for as a fan? Not really, the trailers did this better than the movie itself. It is clear that two of the three Ghostbusters are performing a song.
Bill Murray has built a reputation as everyone’s favorite uncle over the past two decades. The man knows that he breathes rare clean air and can do nothing wrong. With his playing in Ghostbusters: Afterlife , he refers to a dialogue from the first film. However, his voice is so old and fragile that you as a viewer startle. All right, the man is 70 but a little speech therapy could have helped. Murray’s way of spooning out his lines betrays that he’s just reciting a line. It lacks the pathos.
From the 1970s to 1993, Dan Aykroyd experienced a long series of highlights as an actor and producer of various films. The 1980s, in particular, is a decade where you can’t throw a rock without hitting a cult classic of the man. After that, it seems that Aykroyd gave up Hollywood.
Dan Akyroyd is primarily an entrepreneur with a string of blues cafes and a vodka keg. He turns up a handful of times a year for a small role as an actor. Anyone who has seen his interview with Joe Rogan knows that in this film he mainly plays himself and is actually securing an investment. The joke with Podcast shows that he more or less confirms this.
Ernie Hudson is the only one with visible delight in ghost hunting again. If this new Ghostbusters kicks off a new series, and it has that potential, we’ll definitely see it again. The nostalgic icing on the cake actually ruins the taste of an otherwise excellent film.
This film is a loving tribute to the first Ghostbusters . It polishes up the beautiful things from that illustrious past and offers a new generation the chance to play with it. It does that with verve and that results in one of the most successful blockbusters of this year. Go see him.