Despite a knockout performance by Mackenna Grace and some nostalgic pangs seeing the old crew together, Ghostbusters: Afterlife features a terrible script that feels like a remake of the first movie.
Plot: After moving out to a decrepit house in the middle of nowhere, Egon Spengler’s daughter and grandchildren discover some ghostly shenanigans, portending the end of the world.
Review: Of all the movies I watched this year, this is the one I really wanted to be good. Like most kids who grew up in the 80s, I was a fan of the Ghostbusters. I paid an outrageous amount to get both 1 and 2 on DVD (Ghostbusters was one of the first DVD’s I owned), I played the crappy video games on the NES, I have the poster, I have a Ghostbusters sweatshirt, I have a Hot Wheels replica of the Ecto-1 – the only thing I’ve never watched was the tv show (calling it the “Real” Ghostbusters pissed me off) and the 2016 reboot (no interest).
The fact that this seemed to continue from the original series instead of being a reboot and that Jason Reitman, Ivan’s son, was directing this movie gave me hope. I liked the idea of the ghostbusters mantle being passed to the family of a ghostbuster – and even though Harold Ramis has sadly left us, I was stoked to see the boys in the original gear.
Well, I can tell you that Mackenna Grace was excellent as Egon’s granddaughter, Phoebe. She was literally picture-perfect, both in look and in the tone of the character. I could believe she was Egon’s granddaughter. I also liked the kid who played her pal, Podcast. He seemed like the heart of the movie and seemed like a cool geeky kid who may end up joining the ghostbusters. It was also fantastic to see three of the original four in the costumes (and yes, they figured out a way to represent Harold Ramis – I won’t spoil how). So, that’s the good stuff.
Then there’s the stuff that’s kind of meh. Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things fame played Phoebe’s older brother, and he’s kind of just there. He has a romance with this other character whose father is the sheriff – it felt forced and very uninteresting. Carrie Coon plays Egon’s daughter, and I could not stand her – she seemed like a total bitch at times, and I wanted a dog to eat her or something. Paul Rudd was cool but wasn’t in it enough; he was kind of just there.
Now let’s get to the terrible stuff. The script – oh, that script. Breaking off Egon from the rest of the ghostbusters and having no one believe him was a disgrace. He said the world is going to end, and the ghostbusters shun him? Uhhh… didn’t that happen in part 1? That was horrible, and I cringed during Dan Aykroyd’s first scene when Ray just blasts Egon. Ugh. Horrible. And the rest of it is just bad. It literally plays like a copy of the original. The dogs are back. Gozer is back. Cute little StayPuft Marshmallow men are there. Does any of this make sense? No. It feels like a rehash of the first film – why not explore Ivor Shandor like the 2009 game did? That felt like the third instalment of the series – this felt like trying to make you remember how awesome the first movie was instead of being awesome on its own.
For some reason, I really hated how Gozer looked in this movie. It looked like they were trying to make the actress look like the original, but it just felt like a total fail – I could tell she wasn’t the same. Some sound cues and music were taken right from the first movie – again, that’s nice, but why not try to be your own thing? I get that it’s cool to hear the Ghostbusters theme, but this literally felt like a copy of part one. They even address the whole “Are you a God?” question from Ghostbusters – like, seriously, who wrote this thing? At least they could have had stuff from part 2 – like Oscar could have been in it or something.
So, to say this was a disappointment is a huge understatement. I feel like this is a colossal miss, and more than ever, I think they should just end the Ghostbusters franchise now; I don’t think they’re ever going to get close to the original (or the sequel, which frankly, in my opinion, was underrated), and they should just stop trying. I think Ghostbusters is a product of a different time, and trying to modernize it in today’s cynical and self-satisfied period just doesn’t work.