‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ — a bland reboot


Photo courtesy of IMDb

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” was released Nov. 29, starring Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard and Mckenna Grace.

It’s no surprise that after the contentious all-female reboot of the “Ghostbusters” franchise, a new film set in the original universe would eventually follow. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is a morally questionable, confused, and overall mediocre movie.

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” follows the descendants of the original Ghostbuster, Egon Spengler, (Harold Ramis), who are forced to move into his farmhouse after they get evicted. The family consists of mother Callie (Carrie Coon) and her two kids: Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace). The film mainly centers around Phoebe as she tries to discover her late grandfather’s history and finish his final job.

The film begins with Egon being murdered onscreen during a failed capture attempt of a demon. This scene is morally questionable, as Harold Ramis passed away in 2014, and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” uses double imaging and Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) to portray him posthumously. This process was also controversially used to digitally recreate Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher for the film “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” There were concerns after “Rogue One” came out that film franchises might eventually use only digital actors, without the involvement or approval of any of the original creators. 

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” tries to avoid this debate by selling itself as a “passing of the torch” from the original director and writer of the “Ghostbusters” franchise Ivan Rietman, to his son, Jason Reitman. Despite his arguably tasteless death in the film’s opening minutes, Egon’s presence in the rest of the film was very respectful. He plays an invisible yet friendly ghost who pulls the strings behind the scenes so his grandkids can complete his last earthly desire.

The biggest deviation from the original “Ghostbusters” series, and even its 2016 reboot, is the main cast are not seasoned comedians. The film feels more like a low-budget indie movie at some points instead of a comedy horror film like the rest of the franchise. The rare comedic moments mainly come from the supporting cast of Phoebe’s summer school teacher, Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd), and her best friend, Podcast (Logan Kim).

Despite this being a major deviation for the series, the younger cast members really stood out in this film. Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace and Logan Kim  give great performances despite the sometimes rough script.

Speaking of the script — it’s atrocious. Characters have little to no growth, and only exist to move the plot along. If a character is not advancing the plot, they typically are referencing something from the original films or explaining the rules of the universe for the audience. All of the adult characters — with the exception of Gruberson — act oblivious to the very real ghosts terrorizing their small town.

Overall, if you’re looking for a good family film to see in theaters over the holiday break, or are looking for a fun but blunt nostalgia trip, you cannot go wrong with “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.”