Simplest review ever: Ghostbusters: Afterlife is as good as 2016’s Ghostbusters reboot was bad.
That was easy.
Everything about the latest incarnation of the original Ghostbusters saga is perfect. The writing and directing by Jason Reitman, son of the original film’s director, Ivan Reitman, is fresh, clever and logical. It’s a breath of fresh air after that 2016 reboot that-shall-not-be-discussed.
During a clip at the start of the critic’s preview for the film, Jason Reitman says he was a kid hanging out on the set during the filming of the 1984 classic and for Afterlife his father returned the favor and was by his side during the filming. Apparently, he may have been a little too close during the filming, because the care shows.
The attention to detail, the love of the original concept characters, the overall frightening fun of the film is all there in technicolor. They even reprise the original theme song by Ray Parker, Jr. Who else you gonna call?
The movie follows the events of Ghostbusters I and II, ignoring the cartoons, comic books and subsequent sequels. The original Ghostbusters, Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson and the late (and sorely missed) Harold Ramis, did such a good job ridding New York of ghosts back in the eighties that they went out of business.
Ghostbuster Egon Spengler (Ramis) kept insisting that the fight was not over and that caused a rift among the men, and wounds that never healed.
In the opening of Afterlife, we learn that Egon inexplicably moved to a small town in Oklahoma. He lived alone on a huge farm with a broken-down house and barn and was regarded as “the crazy dirt farmer” by the locals.
When Spengler dies suddenly, his daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) leaves New York and moves her son, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard, last seen in Stranger Things) and daughter, Phoebe, brilliantly portrayed by Mckenna Grace, to the ramshackle house in the middle of nowhere.
Phoebe, who inherited her grandfather’s brilliance, sees strange things happen in the old house. She finds her grandfather’s old ghost detector device and it leads her to a hidden ghost trap used in the earlier films. Later, she finds a photon gun (from “Don’t cross the streams” fame.)
Her mother, who was estranged from her famous father, refuses to talk about the spook stuff in 1984 New York, instead toying with a romance of a high school science teacher, Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd.)
Together, Phoebe and her brother and a couple friends explore the history of the Ghostbusters and realize that Egon was correct; the true battle is yet to come.
We get to see many of the memorable bad guys from earlier films, including the Stay Puft Man (men, this time), a creature called Muncher (voiced by Josh Gad) that eats metal and spits out pieces like bullets, and the monstrous dog-demons from the earlier films.
The action is fast and believable as the young Ghostbusters try to figure out how to forestall the end of the world with little training.
Best of all, there are more than a few nice surprise reappearances by characters from the earlier film, and one in particular which acts as a nice tribute to the heart of the original series.
The movie’s climax is wonderful and will thrill any Ghostbusters fan. Be sure to stick around for two extra scenes, mid and post-credit, which hint at more to come.