PG Score: 7.25/10
Ghostbusters: Afterlife was released in theaters on 11/19/21
Co-Writer/Director Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking and Juno) conjures up an invigorating and heartwarming addition to the spectral saga. While it may not excel in any particular area, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a fun, family-oriented adventure that will appeal to longtime fans and newcomers alike.
A direct sequel to Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II (it ignores Paul Feig's 2016 reboot), Jason's new entry picks up 30 years after the events of his father, Ivan's (who serves as a producer in Afterlife) original film. When a single mother (Carrie Coon) and her two kids (Mckenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard) move to a new town, they uncover their link to the original Ghostbusters and the hidden legacy their grandfather started.
Afterlife features plenty of eye-catching special effects, and the supernatural set pieces do not disappoint. Reitman showcases a variety of otherworldly entities, and a few encounters take on a surprisingly spooky feel. It is a far cry from a horror movie, but it possesses enough dark ambience to magnify the intensity during the more heated paranormal battles. The playful humor balances out the scales nicely, and the comedic chemistry between the new characters is a major highlight.
Legacy is the primary focus of the film, both on-screen and behind the lens. The narrative’s central journey revolves around a family discovering the secrets within their lineage and carrying the torch left by their ancestry. The same applies to the director, who maintains his father’s authentic vision but not at the expense of bringing his own ideas to the table…for the most part. Occasionally, it does feel a bit too much like a retread, but the callbacks offer genuine nostalgia more often than not. Partially due to regularly revisiting the source material created three decades ago, the pacing does run into the infrequent lull. However, the two-hour runtime is generally well-spent otherwise.
The cast mainly consists of fresh faces, but Reitman also makes sure to carve out time for a few wily veterans. Mckenna Grace steals the show as Phoebe, a remarkably intelligent child with a nose for anything and everything science. Less attention is devoted to her older brother, Trevor, portrayed by Finn Wolfhard. The Stranger Things star adds yet another moody teen to his acting credits, and effectively captures the character. Carrie Coon plays their mom, Callie, and brings a steadying presence to the role as she exhibits comedic and dramatic aptitude. Paul Rudd adds his signature dose of comedic relief as Gary Grooberson, Phoebe's summer school teacher. Logan Kim makes his big screen debut as her friend, Podcast. The young actor adds timely humor to the mix and demonstrates natural chemistry with his co-stars, especially Grace.
A Worthwhile Reboot
Jason Reitman does right by his dad while introducing a new generation to the iconic franchise. Blending laughs, sci-fi action, and familial themes, Ghostbusters: Afterlife honors its origins and expands its fanbase in the process.