Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) Review

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) - IMDb

Ghostbusters: Afterlife works perfectly as a love letter to the original 1980s movies but struggles as a film in itself. If you’ve never been a fan of Ghostbusters and this is your first foray into the series, you will find little to get very excited about here. If you are a fan of the original series though, Afterlife is the fitting finale to the trilogy that you may have been clamouring for.

At first glance though, it shouldn’t actually work. The setting isn’t New York, the connection to the original four Ghostbusters is very loose and this film is far more focused on teenagers than four geeky scientists out of their depth. Paul Rudd goes someway to addressing that balance but it still doesn’t feel like a Ghostbusters movies.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife' review: Reboot is bleak stuff - Los Angeles Times

That isn’t to say there isn’t some charm to the movie. McKenna Grace plays the granddaughter of the original Ghostbuster Egon Spengler (played by the now departed Harold Ramis) and she brings that cool geeky vibe that has become so popular. A social outcast with enough brains and bravery to be the best aspect of the film, Grace steals the movie. Her older brother, played by Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard has a little less to do considering his star power but makes an impact.

The characters are well-written and fit well into a world which has forgotten the events of the 1980s but are very well linked to the original story. This is not a “spiritual sequel” but a direct continuation of the original films (although it arguably ignores the second movie entirely). This means that if you are a fan of the originals, there are loads of references and Easter Eggs that you can sink your teeth into as the kids find themselves in ancient temples or battling ghosts that leave trails of slime.

How Ghostbusters: Afterlife Honors the Original Legacy - Den of Geek

That isn’t where the fan service ends either. As a fan of the original movies myself, the nostalgia and geekbumps are in full effect. The first time the Ecto 1 is revealed or the sound of a proton-pack being activated will bring a smile to anyone who knows their Ghostbusters and that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the small details that just about feel key to the story not to just be thrown in for a cheap bit of fan service.

Unfortunately, Afterlife does rely very heavily on the fan service and nostalgia. I’d go as far as to say that this is not for anyone who isn’t a fan. It isn’t confusing or alienating to those that haven’t seen the originals but it just won’t have the same entertainment factor and isn’t a strong enough film to stand on its own.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife: First photos, story details, and title confirmed

For the fans, its a great way to end the story of the Ghostbusters and does them justice, with a very satisfying conclusion. It doesn’t have the magic or the humour of the original films though. The big set-pieces that made the Ghostbusters feel like true heroes, everyman scientists way over their heads, just aren’t included here and for a film about people who bust ghosts, ghosts are one thing you may find lacking.

Overall, Ghostbusters: Afterlife will entertain the fans of the original movies, with plenty of nostalgia, Easter Eggs and nods that will raise a smile. The story is also a strong way to conclude the Ghostbusters trilogy. This doesn’t have the magic of the originals though and lacks the humour or great spectacle that made the originals so iconic. If you are a non-fan, you may also be left wondering what all the fuss is about.

Rating – 3.5

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

Ghostbusters: Afterlife, review: cumbersome, grating and self-indulgent

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