Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021). Review of the paranormal film starring Carrie Coon

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) cast and car Ecto 1
Standard

Action/Adventure/Fantasy

star rating 3 out of 5 worth watching

Film review by Jason Day and Helen Blaby of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the story about a group of young parapsychological hunters, based on the original 1980’s movies. starring Carrie Coon and directed by Jason Reitman.

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Synopsis

When single mother Callie (Carrie Coon) and her children Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) arrive in a small town, they discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters team and the legacy their grandfather left behind. That legacy involves a cult that worshipped Gozer (Olivia Wilde) and whose temple is located very near to the ramshackle house their grandfather left them.

Review, by @Reelreviewer and @blabers

***Spoilers alert!***

Overstimulation calms me.

Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) explains why she is calm to new pal Podcast (Kim Logan).

Given that the woeful 2016 reboot proved to be nothing more than loud and terminally witless collection of bangs and whooshes (and, by gender-swapping the main roles, agitated the inner cynic in me) my hopes weren’t very high for this next movie. From the trailers and publicity blurb, it looked like Afterlife would do the same but with children.

Never mix children and animals goes the adage, or children and Proton Packs me also thought but, surprisingly, Ghostbusters: Afterlife does what the 2016 film failed to do – genuinely entertain.

It takes its sweet ass time in doing it though, but this is the fault of any movie that is the kicking off point in any planned franchise (and, it is obvious that at least one more film will follow this. The opening credits remind us of the GB-branded production company established to oversee them – Ghostcorps. At the time of going to press, there are two follow-ups in development and original GBer has previously confirmed a prequel called Ghostbusters High).

A film of two distinct halves, the first is bogged down with exposition as characters are introduced, back-history is discussed. In short, it’s an ambling preamble but at least the fabulous young characters have a little time to breathe and develop.

It’s only during the second half that things really perk up and the film becomes a seriously funny thing. Whether it’s the quips from the kids, dowdy mom Carrie Coons being possessed by a demon and donning a cocktail dress, the mini Stay-Puft marshmallow men causing havoc with their kamikaze hijinks, or the entrance of the original Ghostbusters team for too-fleeting but enormously enjoyable cameos, we suddenly experience an onslaught of madcap after the draught of the start.*

The conclusion is all Hollywood logic (the adults struggle with the proton packs, but the scrawny kids do well with them) and some of the characterisation serves no end (J.K. Simmonds appears for a few seconds as the cult leader, but could have easily been taken out of the whole film)

All of the cast score well and you can see how the next movie is set up for Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) to be the geeky romantic lead, Phoebe to be the bookish leader and Podcast (Kim Logan, by a whisker the best performer here) as the wisecracking joker.

So very much like the first two movies then! But this approach isn’t new as Hollywood has recycled its former glories since the early days of the silent era, so it’s hardly surprising we have a veritable retreat with a few cosmetic, cinematic nips and tucks.

Here’s to the next film!

*Of the original cast, it’s worth pointing out that the man who originally played Egon Spengler, Harold Ramis and who died in 2014, also makes a reappearance. I’ll gloss over the fact that the old cast aren’t utilised very well – more of that Hollywood logic. The kids work complicated and entirely new scientific kit with aplomb in double-quick time when the older guys they have been in contact with could have schooled them – but fittingly, Ramis appears as a ghost. This ghost is good and acts as a bridge between his comrades and his granddaughter and her friends. The denouement between Ramis and Grace is mawkish but it is also the right way to end the film.

Cast & credits

Director: Jason Reitman. 2hrs 4mins/124 mins. Columbia Pictures (presents)/BRON Studios (as BRON Creative)/Ghostcorps/Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE)/The Montecito Picture Company. (12a).

Producer: Ivan Reitman.
Writers: Gil Kenan, Jason Reitman.
Camera: Eric Steelberg.
Music: Rob Simonsen.
Sets: François Audouy.

Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Kim Logan, Celeste O’Connor, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Wilson, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, J.K. Simmons, Shawn Seward, Olivia Wilde.

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