Ghostbusters was a big hit when it was first released in 1984 and left a lasting impression with its novelty and that title song. In 2016, an attempt was made to revive the franchise which was sort of like a female version of the original plot. While I actually enjoyed that one, I have to admit that it was relying a lot on recycled ideas like so many instances of reboots and revivals of successful franchises (eg The Matrix). That attempt was a box office failure and critically panned. That failure somehow motivated the originator of the franchise, Ivan Reitman to make another attempt to reboot the series which has spawned this new reincarnation “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”.
The good news is that this new Ghostbusters is not a disaster. In fact it is really good. Instead of rehashing the same old storylines and restaging scenes from the original, Ivan Reitman has come up with a story that is original with a close connection to the original series. Kudos to the team of writers which includes not only Ivan Reitman but also Ghostbusters alumni’s Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The plot this time is focus mainly on a bunch of kids who discovers the legacy of the Ghostbusters when their grandfather died and left them an farm house in a small town. A large part of what makes this new entry such an easy and enjoyable watch is the wit and smart script. The child actors were simply hilarious delivering the one liners especially Mckenna Grace and Logan Kim as her new found best friend in school. The adults headed by Carrie Coon and Paul Rudd were a good match as well being able to steal some good scenes to themselves making their characters come across as cool without letting themselves be overshadowed by their younger counterparts.
For once, the over the top special effects takes second stage to the plot and characterisation which was a refreshing approach. Even though the story is set in present time, the whole look and feel of the film is very 1980’s and so made it feel a bit retro. For me, the film’s weakest point came in its inevitably noisy and messy final act where well, one can say “all hell breaks loose”. There is the mandatory thrown back to the original series and the expected cameos of the original cast. Amidst all the chaos in the finale, the script pleasantly still had time to invoke a sense of sentimental values which as touching.
Ghostbuster: Afterlife reminded me a lot of similarly crafted shows involving kids and the supernatural like the TV series Stranger Things, and those Back to the Future movies and summer movies of the 80’s. It is not great but it is excellent escapist entertainment at the level that seem to have been lost with most blockbuster movies today. It’s second end credits teaser seems to imply some sort of opportunity for a sequel but frankly I hope they don’t do a follow-up and just leave the series alone after this. It would be a act to follow.