GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE Review; "[A] Joyous Return To Form For The Franchise That Ends The Trilogy In Style"

Ghostbusters: Afterlife arrived in UK cinemas today, and if you're curious whether this is the Ghostbusters III you've been waiting for since 1989, we have some good news for you! Here's our verdict...

2016’s Ghostbusters is rarely talked about these days, and in some respects, that could be for the best. The remake was far from a disaster, but it wasn’t the movie fans wanted (seeing those original actors return as different characters for forgettable cameos was soul-crushing) and exposed an ugly side of the internet that seemed to pile on Paul Feig’s movie simply for having a predominantly female cast. It was disappointing to see things head in that direction, especially as the movie at least attempted to recapture the tone and feel of its predecessors; ultimately, it was just the wrong movie at the wrong time. Ghostbusters: Afterlife, on the other hand, is the Ghostbusters III fans have been waiting for, and it delivers a beautiful, nostalgia-filled story alongside a youthful, diverse cast...and a few returning fan-favourites, of course. 

As you’ll know from the trailers, the movie follows a single mother and her two children as they move to a small town in Oklahoma, where the kids discover an unexpected connection to the original Ghostbusters and their grandfather's secret legacy. The premise may sound weak on paper, but it works incredibly well, injecting a lot of heart into this story and justifying the how and why of the threequel’s leads finding themselves in the midst of an end of the world scenario. Whether you’re a returning fan or new to the franchise, rediscovering Proton Packs and the Ecto-1 alongside these characters proves to be a joyous experience, and it takes no time at all to find yourself engrossed by where this story is headed. 

While it’s true that Ghostbusters: Afterlife relies heavily on nostalgia (to its detriment at times, particularly in the final act), it still manages to introduce new fans to the franchise’s lore and welcomes back those who have been crying out for this movie since 1989. In terms of pure fan service, it lives up to expectations, and by the time those familiar faces do return, you’ll want to jump out of your chair and cheer. Crucially, director Jason Reitman manages to recapture the magic of Ghostbusters, particularly through some familiar visuals mixed with a contemporary filmmaking style. The effects and ghosts may benefit from modern VFX, but they feel perfectly in line with what fans saw on screen all those years ago. That’s not an easy thing to recapture without running the risk of heading into "parody" territory, but Reitman makes it seem effortless. Is this the start of a whole new Ghostbusters franchise? It certainly could be, but if this is the grand finale in the trilogy we’ve waited so patiently for, this is a good place to leave it. 
 


Even with a two-hour runtime, certain characters and subplots could have done with a little more space to breathe, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife might have benefited most from cutting Finn Wolfhard’s Trevor. The Stranger Things star definitely impresses, but his mostly clichéd romance with a local girl doesn’t really add much and his arc fails to make enough of an impact to leave you keen to spend more time with the character. The opposite is true for Mckenna Grace’s Phoebe, though. A career-best performance from a young actress who always impresses, the quirky 12-year-old is a hoot to spend time with and the natural choice of lead for the Ghostbusters franchise should it continue. If this was an Indie film heading into awards season, we’d fully expect to see Grace nominated for an Oscar because she’s nothing short of spectacular and inhabits this character in a way it’s rare for any actor to do, never mind someone so young. Elsewhere, Paul Rudd and Carrie Coon are on top form, while Logan Kim is excellent in his first major movie role. 

Ghostbusters: Afterlife does go all-in on fan service and nostalgia, but over three decades since Ghostbusters II was released, is that really a bad thing? Reitman manages to hit all the right beats here and sets the stage for a final act that is likely to leave you wiping away more than a few tears. Throw in some solid jump scares, a whole lot of heart, and the unbelievably adorable Mini-Pufts, and you're sure to walk away satisfied. Inevitably, there is sure to be those disappointed that this isn’t two hours of the original cast larking around, but as both a reinvention of the franchise and one that respects its roots, we’re confident you’ll be happy with what Reitman delivers.

With a 5* performance from the insanely talented Mckenna Grace, Ghostbusters: Afterlife proves to be the perfect mix of new and old, delivering a nostalgia-filled, joyous return to form for the franchise that ends the trilogy in style.
 

IF

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