Ever since that iconic teaser trailer launched glimpsing the dust-covered Ecto-1 in a spooky barn, excitement has been through the roof for ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’. Another casualty of the global pandemic, this anticipated third chapter of the original Ghostbusters legacy really couldn’t be in safer hands. Jason Reitman takes helm of the franchise that his dad Ivan helped make a global box office sensation. This is a proper successor to ‘Ghostbusters’ 1 and 2, and the story is handled exceptionally well.
Original ‘Ghostbusters’ legends Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts return, but this story focuses primarily on a younger generation – some of whom have ties to the original foursome. Mckenna Grace and ‘Stranger Things’ alumni Finn Wolfhard star in a story involving a single mother (Carrie Coon) and her two children Phoebe and Trevor, who move to a small town and discover that their grandfather is linked to the legacy of the Ghostbusters.
This is a spoiler-free review so I won’t go into further detail, but I can say that the story develops quickly and is entertaining throughout. The film painstakingly channels the true essence of the first two ‘Ghostbusters’ movies to create a natural successor and sequel, whilst delivering a beautiful and emotionally charged homage to what’s come before. There’s a real sense of closure to certain aspects of the ‘Ghostbusters’ legacy, and in others there’s fresh, new optimism of what can happen with this franchise in the future. And that’s a remarkable thing for ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ to achieve so effectively.
The cast are all superb. The original Ghostbusters fall instantly back into character, and naturally steal of their scenes. There’s only brief cameos for Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver but they are certainly welcome additions. Paul Rudd is probably the most likeable man in Hollywood and he makes everything better, so it’s no surprise to learn that he is perfect in his role as a summer school teacher named Mr. Grooberson who is secretly monitoring the unexplained seismic events in town. Carrie Coon gives the role of Callie a real relatable charm and doesn’t hit any of the ‘mom’ cliches this type of character could so easily have generated.
Finn Wolfhard continues his impressive trend of being the most 80s person ever – especially given that he wasn’t even born until 2002. But for me, this movie belongs to the hugely impressive Mckenna Grace. Grace has been the best thing in practically all of her past projects (including ‘The Haunting of Hill House’, ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’, ‘Gifted’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’). Grace leads the film with a confidence and screen presence way beyond her years, and really gives the film a lot of heart. When the story reveals a few secrets linked to her character Phoebe, she runs with the added responsibility and carries the weight of this beloved franchise effortlessly. Grace is without doubt one of the finest of her generation with a wonderful career ahead of her.
The special effects of ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ are very impressive. There are physical props used that echo some of the ghost and ghouls we see in the first 2 movies, which gives the film a nice tangible 80s aesthetic, but the CGI is particularly great. Again, no spoilers here but there’s a scene at the end of the film which is done so well it will bring a tear to the eye. Mixed with Jason Reitman’s brilliant direction and Reitman and Gil Kenan’s affecting screenplay, this conjures up a wonderful finale that echoes the past and is a crowd-pleaser in the best possible way. There’s a lot of fun to be had with the new (multiple) Stay-Puft marshmallow men too!
‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ is a wonderful third chapter in the Ghostbusters legacy. It captures the essence of the original films, whilst delivering a fresh story for a new generation. It nailed the casting down, and with the original Ghostbusters in tow, has given the fans a great send-off whilst also keeping a sliver of hope open for the future. With Jason (and his father Ivan) Reitman attached, this was always in safe hands. ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ is a great ride that you’ll not want to miss.
Cast: Mckenna Grace, Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard, Carrie Coon, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, Logan Kim, Celeste O’Connor Director: Jason Reitman Writer: Jason Reitman, Gil Kenan, Dan Aykroyd Certificate: 12A Duration: 124 mins Released by: Sony Release date: 18th November 2021