Now, this is how you do a reboot/sequel decades after the fact right!
Set in a sleepy Oklahoma town years after the original Ghostbusters have disbanded, Ghostbusters: Afterlife follows the surviving family members of the late Ghostbuster, Egon Spengler, as they inherit and subsequently move into his old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Focusing on his granddaughter, Phoebe (McKenna Grace), as she slowly begins to discover what her grandfather had been up to in the decades since the Ghostbusters’ last outing, an ancient evil is unleashed back into a world that has forgotten about the ghosts and ghouls that once plagued them, bringing back a threat that no one can truly say they can handle. Kickstarting a new legacy for the second age of ghostbusting, Phoebe and her friends and family must learn what it takes to keep their little town — and by extension the world — safe, while navigating the emotional fallout of the death of Egon, a man they hardly ever knew.
Directed by Jason Reitman, the son of the filmmaker behind the original pair of Ghostbuster films, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is as much a homage to what came before as it is an attempt to push the franchise in a fresh new direction. Chock-full of moments that call back to the original movies while blazing forward in ways that help this entry feel new and unique, the best parts of this film stem from the care and dedication given to making the story and tone feel as close as possible to the original without mimicking it entirely, save for the last act (more on that later).
Full of great castings from the always lovable Paul Rudd and Carrie Coon, to Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things fame, to the podcast-loving Logan Kim as McKenna Grace’s only friend (who also admittedly is a bit useless and annoying in spots), this film does a lot of things right from the get-go and sustains that quality until the last half hour or so of the film when things start to feel far too familiar. Complete with enough fun humor and entertaining action bolstered by some great special effects depicting some of the coolest ghost designs in the series, and this film shows exactly how to relaunch a franchise without tarnishing what came before.
But for as much as I truly enjoyed the experience, it’s the final act that threatens to derail a film that up until then, had succeeded in being something less derivative and more thoughtful compared to previous entries. And although there are a few moments in the finale that are actually quite good and heartwarming for die-hard fans to see, rehashing a lot of elements from the final act of the original film shows that this movie played things far too safe when it needed to do just the opposite instead.
While it definitely felt far too familiar in its final act, the overall quality and inventiveness of the script bolstered by a high dosage of welcome nostalgia, enough comedy and heart to satisfy, and some fun world-building and action scenes that entertain in ways that are just plain fun to experience, this entry in the Ghostbusters franchise comes out on top as the best film since the original. Here’s hoping Ghostbusters: Afterlife gets another lease on life in the form of a sequel because I haven’t been this excited about a relaunched series in a long time.