Friday, June 2, 2023

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)


Streaming Service: STARZ
Movie Name/Year: Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
Length:  2h 4min
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Columbia Pictures, BRON Studios, Ghostcorps, Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Montecito Picture Company, Sony Pictures EspaƱa, Sony Pictures Releasing Argentina, Sony Pictures Releasing Canada, Sony Pictures Releasing International, Sony Pictures Releasing, United International Pictures, Universal Pictures International
Director: Jason Reitman
Writers: Gil Kenan, Jason Reitman, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis
Actors: Annie Potts, Bill Murray, Bokeem Woodbine, Caillou Pettis, Carrie Coon, Celeste O'Connor, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Finn Wolfhard, Logan Kim, Marlon Kazadi, Mckenna Grace, Oliver Cooper, Paul Rudd, Sigourney Weaver
IMDb Blurb: When a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.

Selina’s Point of View:
I grew up on Ghostbusters (1984). I was only 1-year-old when it came out, so I don’t know when I first saw it, but I know it was early in life. Nothing was ever going to live up to the original Ghostbusters. I didn’t go into this thinking anything would. Still, Ghostbusters: Afterlife was the absolute best they could have done.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife had all the nostalgia that fans of the original series could hope for, including cameos from the majority of the original cast. They even had Harold Ramis (Stripes, Groundhog Day, Orange County) represented. You can’t really blame them for not getting Rick Moranis (Little Shop of Horrors, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Brother Bear), though. He left acting to be a full-time dad after the death of his wife. (As a side note: He’s talking about getting back into it now that they’re grown.)
Those ‘member berries alone would have floated Ghostbusters: Afterlife. They could have left it at that, and people would have watched. Especially Millennials and Gen Xers. But the creative team didn’t rest there.
There was a lot to the story. On top of that, the group of actors chosen to take over the reins was well-cast.
Finn Wolfhard (The Addams Family, The Turning, Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio) is a no-brainer. As one of the kids from Stranger Things, he’s not going to have any trouble getting work. For good reason. On the same note, Paul Rudd (The Fundamentals of Caring, Mute, The Bob's Burgers Movie) was as good as expected. There was no way he was going to flub this performance. He was practically born to play any kind of weird fan-boy part. And I mean that in the best way.
Carrie Coon (Fargo, The Nest, Boston Strangler) acted with the ability of someone with a household name. I never questioned any of her scenes. While Logan Kim’s (Home Movie: The Princess Bride) performance reminded me of Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Stranger Things) as Mikey in The Goonies (1985). I don’t say that lightly. His mannerisms felt inspired by that 80s classic. Mckenna Grace (The Handmaid's Tale, Spirit & Friends, Crater) was the shining star, though. She absolutely transformed into her character. I know her from other works, and I didn’t place her at all. I love it when an actor can cause that effect.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife was all the fun it was meant to be. If you stick around for the mid, and post, credit scenes – it’s even more so. If they make more in the series, I hope they continue from here. We can forget the remake.
Cat’s Point of View:
I absolutely adore the Ghostbusters (1984) franchise. All of it. Watching the original in theaters when I was little was one of my earliest handful of magical theater experiences. I even loved the short-lived cartoon series. (I’m pretty giddy that there’s allegedly another animated series in development, too.) I even have a few of the Ghostbusters comics that were in the same artistic style as the existing cartoon series. I digress…

My point is that this particular IP holds a special nostalgic place in my heart. I will always give something with the Ghostbusters label a chance and hope for the best. Though, after the slight disappointment with the non-primary-canon gender twist installment in the franchise, and the passing of beloved key people, I wondered if it would be possible for Ghostbusters to make a real theatrical comeback. Then I saw the teasers for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and I swear I got chills.  

There was the OG Ecto-1 sitting in a field. I had to know more. 

Then, as time went on and I learned that this new movie was helmed by Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air, Tully), son of late and great Ivan Reitman (1946-2022) who brought us the original. Further, Dan Aykroyd (Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, Get On Up, Hotel Paranormal) was on the writing team. I had faith that this new installment was going to be more grounded in the legacy of the movies we all love from yesteryear. 

I wasn’t disappointed. 

My only worry, really, was how they were going to handle the passing of Harold Ramis (1944-2014), who played the iconic Dr. Egon Spengler. His character was so central to making the team work - he was their tech guy and the straight-laced no-nonsense heart of the ensemble. The sequel that we had all hoped for over the years seemed out of reach after both Ramis and Reitman were lost. 

Well, I can tell you that you can put those worries aside. Ghostbusters: Afterlife handled this tastefully with great respect to both, and with the surviving family’s blessing. Their spirits were alive and well within this continuation of the original story. This was a heartfelt tribute to them as well as a torch-passing.

I cried. So much crying. 

Without dwelling further on the past, let’s get on to discussing more of this actual movie. 

Ghostbusters: Afterlife was the perfect vehicle to bring these stories forward into a new era. It built from the existing story and seamlessly incorporated a new generation into the fold with Spengler’s estranged family. Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, and especially Mckenna Grace were well cast in those roles. Grace and her character’s buddy Podcast, played by Logan Kim, were my favorites. 

In fact, the cast was fairly stacked with talented up-and-comers such as Celeste O'Connor (Freaky, The In Between, A Good Person) as well as well-known veterans like Paul Rudd. Let me tell you - if I had ever had to do summer school, I would have hoped a teacher as cool as Rudd’s character would have been running it. I digress…

It’s hard for me to really sing the praises of the story or get into much detail because I don’t want to spoil anything. There were so many moments where I gasped with recognition and glee as a new piece to the puzzle was put into place. 

There were callbacks to the original movies while at the same time, there were new and updated experiences for modern audiences to appreciate. 

The effects were as good as expected, if not better; and the location was utilized well. It was strange not seeing the backdrop of the big city - but there was a point. 

To sum up - if you love the Ghostbusters franchise, definitely give Ghostbusters: Afterlife a chance. Just keep some tissues handy. For those who haven’t partaken of this particular storyline before - don’t worry, there’s some recap built-in with this narrative so you won’t be lost. Further, my message is: don’t let alternate reality lampoons turn you off of this IP as a whole. I’ve already watched Ghostbusters: Afterlife several times - and I can see myself watching it again easily while I am impatiently awaiting the next installment. 
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 63%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 94%
Metascore – 45%
Metacritic User Score –7.7 /10
IMDB Score – 7.1/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5

P.S. - There are mid and post-credits scenes. 
Movie Trailer:

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