Ask people what their favourite Ghostbusters’ movie is, and they’ll most likely say the first one. Anything after that is considered trash, an abomination to the brand. However, that isn’t exactly the case.
While previous movies have had their faults, they still had many wonderful things about them.
The new movie, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, has hit cinema screens and let me tell you, it was amazing!
The film consists of Egon’s family, a broken legacy and of course, ghosts. The movie has no end of hightail action and haunting frights, with my personal highlights being the moments with the Spengler family.
The look and feel of this movie are just on par with the 1984 classic, bright neon lights in dark spaces, grungy houses, and the unbothered civilians. Many shots in this movie are quite standard but what elevates them is the acting and visual design of the sets.
I could spend an entire day just looking around Egon’s dirt farm and never be bored, it’s the minute details that go unnoticed by most that make the scenes and sets feel natural.
The town itself is rather plain, but that helps its design. A small town in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by dirt and broken dreams; with the young having no way of leaving what their older generations created.
The movie very heavily focuses on the idea of holding a legacy, with the town being a model example of that. We hear characters who say they’ve lived in this town their whole lives, those who are the fourth generation, deemed to forever live where their ancestors stood.
Then we have the Spengler family, the children unaware of who their grandfather was while their mother hides that part of her and has a distaste for anything that man ever touched.
This leads me to the characters, who are definitely the best part of this movie. The family dynamic is amazing, and you feel as though these people have lived together their whole lives. It is hard to believe that most people haven’t heard of Ghostbusters or even remember them, the movie doesn’t really dive deep into that, only saying the children weren’t even born during the 80s, etc.
The new talent was also a welcomed addition, compared to the 2016 movie, the new characters are a breath of fresh air.
Stranger Things star, Finn Wolfhard and I, Tonya star, Mckenna Grace were amazing in their respected roles. Each looking close enough to Egon in looks and Phoebe, Mckenna Grace, having a near similar personality to her grandfather’s.
You grew fond of the moments where she displayed characteristics of Egon and started feeling this sense of closure that Egon wasn’t truly gone for good.
While Finn Wolfhard portrayed his role good there wasn’t really much for the character to do story-wise. The most Trevor did was fix up Ecto-1 and shoot the power converters for the trap at the end of the movie. Besides that, he was overall redundant compared to Phoebe who was smart enough and compelling enough to lead the movie on her own.
Paul Rudd was also great in this movie, his character, Mr. Gooberson, was what Rick Moranis’ character was back in the 80s; the lighthearted goof that kept the audience smiling and was basically an average fan.
Thinking back to the 2016 all female Ghostbusters movie, one aspect that I was really looking forward to was the special effects. The original movie and subsequently the second used both a mixture of limited CGI at the time and practical effects. So, when the 2016 movie came out, all I could think about was the advancements in technology since then and how much better it would look.
And I was right.
Say whatever you want about that film, the CGI does not make up for the poor writing, but it does help to make the film entertaining.
Now flash-forward to 2021, Ghostbusters: Afterlife returns to form and uses both CGI and practical effects. Not many movies in Hollywood do that anymore, and it’s a shame. Many classics from that time could only use practical effects and those movies still looked more realistic than some you get today.
The movie’s ghosts look the best they ever have done, they still hold the wow factor of 2016’s effect but are all different from each other and have character like the 80’s effects. Though the movie has ghost in the name, you don’t actually get to see that many in the film itself, with the biggest appearance being from ‘Muncher’.
References to the previous movies and added lore are welcomed and a perfect addition to the franchise. Again, going back to Egon’s house, just seeing all the little notes and items that if you thought about long enough, you’d remember seeing it from the originals; my favourite being the stack of books in the front room.
Returning characters, though serving minor roles, were a fun treat for old fans of the franchise. With stars like Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson coming back as the titular group, the movie was bound to be good.
The ending fight served as a good way to give closure to the main group, with tactics used in the first movie ultimately failing in this one, and I liked that change.
It shows the villains have changed in the years since their last appearance and have adapted, this allows them to be a bigger threat. Once you’ve seen Gozer uncross the streams all hope is lost and as an audience member you’re worried for the cast because that one hope of defeating Gozer is gone.
Going back to the idea of legacy in this movie, we should probably address the elephant in the room.
Harold Ramis. The late, great Harold Ramis.
Now it might not be a surprise to some that my favourite Ghostbuster is Egon Spengler, I love his dry wit and his lack of emotion when faced with danger.
Now I won’t be the first to say that you shouldn’t bring back the dead to act, movies have done this before and they’ll be doing it long after I’ve said anything about it. But the way it was handled in this movie, I can’t be mad at it.
There was just so much love and respect for this actor and the character he portrayed, not at one point did I think they hadn’t done him justice. There was no recasting, no deletion of the character, instead they allowed that character to live on with their overwhelming presence and through the family name.
At the end of the movie when Egon’s ghost appeared it was a shock to me, I didn’t think they’d actually do it. Seeing his hidden figure at the beginning was already mind-blowing to me but to see a reconstruction of Harold himself was insane.
But the way they handled the situation was interesting to say the least.
The reveal of Egon’s ghost holding the proton gun that Phoebe had her hands around was just so touching and the best way to reintroduce him, even as a ghost.
Not having him talk was the best decision, having someone else’s voice come from his lips would have felt wrong and disrespectful to Harold.
The ending just held so much weight to it and was by far the best part of the film as a whole. The cyclical structure made itself evident, further implying that Phoebe is just like Egon. The moment when all the original crew stood in a line with their proton packs brought tears to my eyes, allowing Egon to be there in the scene and have such a massive effect on the group and his family; it was perfect.
While the story was lacklustre, making it about family was a good idea. Too many of the Ghostbusters’ media focuses rightly on the ghosts but little on the team itself and the character’s lives. Adding the family plot-line gave the movie heart and the ending had a great payoff because of it.
The characters had great motivations for why they did what they did and why they felt a certain way. The daughter, Callie, especially had her reasons to hate her father and I believed them.
You don’t get told at the beginning why Egon left, but the way the family portray him you start to hate him for all the decisions he made, you’re on the family's side. It’s only later on in the movie does Jason Rietman decide to give you further context and it’s explained why Egon left, why he moved to dirt farm.
It was a well thought out plan that was in-line with his character and you suddenly realise that this is the same character as before and that he was never selfish or that he didn’t care. You see that he left his family not because he wanted to but because he had to.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the third movie, continuing on from the original two. It singlehandedly brings together old fans and new, reintroducing everyone back into the ghost world and still holding a lasting impact.
It shows that even after all this time, bustin’ ghosts has never felt so good.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife gets 4 out of 5 Slimers.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is currently screening in cinemas.