Starring: Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, McKenna Grace
Director: Jason Reitman
Running Time: 125 mins
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is an American film and the third film in the Ghostbusters series. Decades after the attack on New York City, there have been no further ghost sightings, until their existence is unearthed once again by a young girl in a small rural town with links to the history of ghostbusting.
Over thirty years since the two originals, Ghostbusters: Afterlife brings the main franchise back to the big screen in rather forgettable fashion. On the whole, this legacy sequel is a fine, but generally underwhelming attempt to recreate some of the magic of one of Hollywood’s favourite sci-fi comedies.
First and foremost, it seems that Ghostbusters: Afterlife is targeted at rather a different audience from the first two movies. While the originals had blockbuster appeal for all ages, they really worked well as comedies with a nice dollop of adult humour that was often more central to the story than more generic adventure and sci-fi.
This time, however, things are very much the other way around, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife feels like a movie marketed towards kids, with a few adult jokes and swear words sprinkled throughout. As such, its screenplay is far less sharp, and there really aren’t many big laughs to speak of.
All of this is part of the film’s efforts to rekindle a bit of ’80s nostalgia as it reinvigorates the legacy of Ghostbusters. That’s perfectly fine, and there are a couple of nice nods to the original film, although the introduction of characters from the original are really rather ham-fisted, and nowhere near as satisfying as this movie hopes.
What’s more, Ghostbusters: Afterlife relies almost too heavily on a really generic brand of ’80s nostalgia, as it rolls out the rather tired Stranger Things/Super 8 motifs throughout. Again, there’s nothing particularly terrible about that, but it’s a fairly superficial stab at nostalgia by the film, and after a good decade of countless films and TV shows relying on the same thing, it’s starting to get a little dull.
Looking past its role as a legacy sequel to rekindle the magic of the original Ghostbusters – something that this film really struggles at – there are moments when it does at least deliver a few moments of entertainment or sweet drama in its own right.
For instance, two of the film’s central characters, played by the young McKenna Grace and Logan Kim, are a lot of fun to watch, with Kim in particular accounting for a good proportion of the best laughs that this film has to offer.
As a kids’ adventure movie, Ghostbusters: Afterlife works rather better, although it’s frustrating to see the film try to stray back towards more adult humour and storytelling when it really doesn’t fit in this case.
Otherwise, at a smidge over 2 hours long, Ghostbusters: Afterlife does drag a little at times, with an overlong final action sequence that isn’t really saved by the forced appearance of our beloved heroes to save the day.
It’s probably sacrilege to say it, but I still think that Paul Feig’s 2016 Ghostbusters is the best that the series has seen, because it really managed to nail the balance between comedy and sci-fi, while keeping the humour a little more adult-oriented, and featured a quartet of delightfully entertaining performances.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife, on the other hand, is a fairly generic film that thinks a little too highly of itself. It’s perfectly fine, but it’s nowhere near the great legacy sequel or revival of the franchise it seems to think, struggling to blend comedy and sci-fi successfully as it clearly changes tack towards a younger audience. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 6.7 overall.