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Ghostbusters: Afterlife - A Review

I love storytelling and I love great stories in every form. So from time to time I post reviews of stories I love, be they TV series, movies, or books. So let's go!

Hubs and I started my birthday weekend by streaming Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which we'd both been anticipating, being huge fans of the franchise. We hoped to love this film, and we were not disappointed. How did we love it? Let us count the ways. The entire movie was one big kiss to Harold Ramis. And in a way, he was one of the main characters.

The Score

The filmmakers were brilliant in using the original film's musical score for most of the movie. You know, the slightly funny background music we hear while the characters are sneaking around the place?

Here's a sample of what I mean. Just turn up the volume and click play. It's 30 seconds and you'll get it immediately.

Throughout Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the original score is used, far more than just this small piece here. It's familiar, and it puts us right back into that world. Music is such a powerful tool

The Props

The GB overalls and all the personal touches I won't spoil here, just made me feel so happy.. Easter eggs are everywhere you look in this film. I'll let you find them on your own, mostly, but the proton packs and the PKE meter were perfect. And there's another big relic from the original film (and lots of small ones) that you're going to love seeing again that I won't mention. Using the same major props was brilliant. This was done effectively in Jurassic World, too, and it works wonders. Great tip for sequel makers to keep in mind.

The Effects

The special effects team might've been tempted to update all the ghost scenes with the newest technology, but they resisted. When they turn on those proton packs, we hear that familiar sound of them powering up. When they blast ghosts, the same red and yellow energy bolts rip from their blasters with the exact same sounds we're used to.

The Cast

Mckenna Grace as Phoebe, Igon Spengler's granddaughter, stole the film. She was the lead, and if anyone says otherwise, they lie. This was her movie. She was amazing. When I saw her headshot online I didn't think she was the same actress. Everything about her was an homage to Harold Ramis. The hair and glasses, sure. But more, it was her mannerisms, her personality, her walk, even.

Paul Rudd had a challenge, I think, trying to find a way to relate is role to the original. He was romantically interested in Callie, played by Carrie Coon. (Phoebe's mom, Igon's daughter, and eventually, the Gate Keeper of Gozer.) That would have suggested his was a Bill Murray/Peter Venkman type part, but he wasn't at all Peter-like. He was almost comic relief, and at times he seemed to be channeling Rick Moranis's Louis Tully. But it worked.

Logan Kim played "Podcast," young Phoebe's first and only friend in a new town, not to mention fellow nerd, podcaster, and loyal sidekick. He was clearly the Ray character, right down to his haircut, and he did it so well.

I'm convinced Logan and McKenna watched the old films to get their roles right.

Carrie Coon did a great job as the mom. She didn't try to be the new Dana, and like Rudd, didn't really have a counterpart from the original on which to model her part. Which is fine. Not everyone has to be like someone in the old film. It just felt to me like the mom character didn't really need to be there. (Which I guess is true of most films that feature kids as the protagonists-the adults have to fade into the background.)

As for Finn Wolfhard, the Stranger Things star who played Phoebe's older brother Trevor, he was excellent. I just wish the writers had given him a bit more to play with.

The Writing

I'm of two minds about the writing. I am always most critical of writing in any project. I am known to critique the text on cereal boxes. First, I loved the story in the way it honored the original film, paid homage to Igon Spengler, and even tied in elements from the plot of the very first movie. All of that was a tall order, and they did it in a beautiful way that made sense, which is hard to do. I mean, we had to bring back Gozer the Gozarian and it had to track with the canon laid out in the earlier films.

But...I don't know, the plot itself just wasn't great, and I think that's due to one major thing. There wasn't enough at stake. Ghosts running rampant in the middle of the desert in Oklahoma, where there are only a handful of buildings and a smattering of residents, just doesn't feel as dangerous as ghosts running rampant through New York City, crushing churches and police cars.

I know, we're supposed to believe the world will end if the ghosts win, but we don't get to see the destruction firsthand. We don't get to that breathless, OMG moment of certain doom. Well, we do, but it's on a far smaller scale.

On the other hand, maybe a bigger plot would have overshadowed the nostalgia, the love for Ramis and the homage to the early films. Maybe that's why they kept the ghost vs. humanity part of the story rather toned down.

The Ending

Oh, the ending. I'm not even going there except to say I got tears and kept whispering, "How the hell did they do that?"

Not only was the ending perfect, but – drum roll, please – they left it open for a sequel! Cymbal smash!

Also, special note, there are TWO after-credit scenes. One after the initial credits, and then another one after the endless stream of every person who set foot on or near the set while it was being made, including the guy who cut the tree that made the paper on which they printed the scripts, I think.

BOTH after-credit scenes were well worth the wait. Do not miss them.

Where to Watch

Buy for $19.99 or rent for $5.99

We rented it and should have bought it.

These are affiliate links



Did you know I based my plotting and story structure seminar on the major turning points in the original 1984 film, Ghostbusters?

Go to the home page and scroll down for more info.

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