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Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) - Movie Review

Ghostbusters Afterlife movie

So last night I finally got to see a film that I’ve been both excited and nervous about seeing since I first heard it was being made. It seems to have taken forever to have gotten here!

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)

For those of you who haven’t seen it, the movie is a sequel to both Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989).

It has nothing whatsoever to do with the all-female Ghostbusters movie from 2016.

Co-Written and directed by Jason Reitman (Juno), Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a fantasy/comedy starring Mckenna Grace (I, Tonya), Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) as well as most of the remaining cast of the original two movies.

This is what it’s about according to the internet:

When a single mother and her two children move to a new town, they soon discover they have a connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.

I’ve been really excited about watching this movie for a long time.

I remember around eight or so years ago hearing talk of a new Ghostbusters sequel starring the original cast, but when Harold Ramis who played Egon Spengler sadly passed away it seemed like it would never happen. Instead they decided to reboot the franchise with a female cast of Ghostbusters which was met with mixed to negative reviews from both fans and critics.

When any sequel to a much loved movie made years prior is announced there’s always a certain amount of concern from fans. We as film lovers hold these movies in such high regard that as much as we’d love to see a sequel that lives up the originals, history has proven on more than a dozen occasions that they rarely do.

What got me excited about this movie was learning that not only was it being co-written and directed by the son of the previous two film’s director, Ivan Reitman (who also produced), but that the original cast members were returning. Add to all that the addition of Paul Rudd and I was in!

Funny Paul Rudd dancing GIF

When the full trailer for the film dropped last year after just a couple of mouth watering teasers before it, concern crept into my excitement.

As good as the trailer was, it more than hinted that the sequel would be aimed at a younger audience and not at old farts like myself who grew up with the originals.

Don’t get me wrong, I get it, it’s a money making industry and young people don’t want to watch a two hour movie about a bunch of pensioners “busting” ghosts. Still, all too often these kinds of sequels try harder to gain a new audience than they do please the loyal one they’ve had for years. None the less I held on to the hope that a good balance would be found and crossed my fingers and toes.

Ghostbusters Afterlife movie Ecto 1 car

Finally, here’s my review and it contains mild spoilers…

I feel confused about my feelings towards this film.

In short, it’s actually a really good movie. It has something for everyone and is extremely respectful to the original, in particular Harold Ramis and his character, Egon who’s at the centre of the story.

It’s heavily based around the events of the first film and its characters, it’s chock full of little nods to the original, brings back the original cast (don’t get too excited just yet) and even features some of the same musical themes by composer, Elmer Bernstein. What’s not to love?!

Well, aside from the original Ghostbusters not featuring in it until the last ten minutes, my fears that it was catering for a younger audience were unfortunately confirmed. And that’s really the only thing that ruined my enjoyment of it. By the way, that’s not a criticism of the younger actors - the performances from them, most notably Mckenna Grace are brilliant (although her podcasting sidekick got on my nerves for pretty much the whole movie). Paul Rudd as I suspected was also one of the better things about the film.

Mckenna Grace in Ghostbusters Afterlife movie

For all the good (and there’s plenty of it) this film suffers greatly from the kind of youthful, obvious humour that seems to be really popular (with the younger generation at least) these days. As good as the film is, and as Ghostbuster-y as they’ve made it, for me it really lacks the tone, the credibility and the comedy that makes the first two so enjoyable.

A friend of mine said today, “do you not think you’re just being a bit over-critical because you’re such a fan of the original?” And he’s probably right. I just don’t think I’m the demographic they’re aiming for with it.

I loved the film as far as the story and the visuals (which are brilliant by the way), I don’t even have a problem with a younger cast taking the limelight. What I do have a problem with is being asked to believe that 12 year old kids talk like adults and possess knowledge way beyond their years. I can suspend disbelief when it comes to things I know are fantasy, but some things are just too much for me to swallow.

The original three Ghostbusters had PHDs, and although their methods were slightly unorthodox and “sloppy”, they were experts in their field. Because of this you bought into the idea that they knew what they were talking about. In this new movie I struggled with the idea that a bunch of kids were our only hope of stopping the apocalypse.

Ghostbusters Afterlife movie GIF

I know how I sound, believe me. I’ve been wondering all day how I was going to sum up all of my feelings about this film in a post that wouldn’t be so long that people would scroll past it. What’s upsetting to me is that, I did enjoy it, but had the comedy and the tone been slightly different I think I would’ve loved it! Instead I came out with a slightly empty feeling inside.

If you’re a fan of the first two films you should definitely give this a watch and make your own mind up.

I do think I’ll need to watch it again myself in a few months when it comes to streaming services. I imagine once I’ve had time to digest and accept everything I’ll enjoy it a lot more on a second watch.

Anyway, that’s about it.

Seen it? Let me know your thoughts.


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