Ghostbusters: Afterlife – A Review

[Editor’s Note: Didn’t even know this one was hitting streaming this week, but it finally did. So, you get two reviews in a row. Spoilers as usual. Enjoy.]

One quick thing about this. Fucking HBO Max has spoiled me. I am rare among some movie nerds in that I have never been one to say “oh if you haven’t seen it in a theater, you haven’t seen it.” I call bullshit. I got a big ass TV with surround and can watch this shit in my drawers drinking scotch.

Sony, get your shit together, and let me watch this on release.

K, on with the show.

Let’s start with some shame. Ghostbusters is my fandom. Well….maybe not to the extent the internet approves of….not sure how to explain it. I love Ghostbusters, but its not the same kind of love I had in my youth. I suppose as I got older, I hate on more things (as this blog indicates).

But even today, in this dark time. Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II still give me joy. I rewatched them both in the pandemic. I’m also a huge fan of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, which had a fucking murderer’s row of a writing staff.

I mean to know me was to know my love of Ghostbusters. I had a Ghostbusters patch on all my bags through college. Hell, back then if I had money, I would own a full suit and a proton pack. And life is long enough that I am not ruling that out.

But as I got older, I felt like the nature of what “being a fan” of something meant. It meant being obsessive. The kind of things Smigel made fun of back in the day. And that wasn’t for me.

Did you know there are Ghostbusters franchises? In real life? I shouldn’t hate on them too much. They do charity stuff and what not. But, you know, you do you, but its not for me. I don’t know if this lowers my fandom for the franchise, but it does give me the hesitance of this section. Full circle.

So, I bet you are wondering if I hated Ghostbusters: Answer the Call aka Ghostbusters 2016 aka something that is somehow controversial in a year of controversy.

Well, ill keep it short…it had two things wrong with it. 1) I don’t think the writer or director were really interested in doing a Ghosbusters movie and 2) Sony fucking meddled that movie to death to the point where if the writer or director had a good idea it was buried under layers of bullshit.

That’s it. Like I don’t hate it. I pity it. It is a horrendously poor movie. An unpleasant cinematic experience. But I don’t have contempt for it. I pity the fool.

Hell, I own ATC (as the fans call it), cause of course I do. I own the Extreme Ghostbusters set too. And that’s way worse.

That brings us to the movie that kept getting pushed back. Afterlife.

My reactions have been well documented. Hesitancy. Seems like it could work, but I really don’t like the Stranger Things formula. But you know, Jason Reitman has made some great movies.

Plus, I saw “Shandor Mining” in the trailer. And my reaction was “Oh god the villain is going to be Gozer.” Cause to an ultra nerd like me, I know Ivo Shandor built Dana Barrett’s apartment building in the first one.

But you know, I will hold opinions till I see it. Could be good…

How did it turn out?

not good

Maybe that’s too harsh….but maybe not….

Here’s the thing, as far as movies go. There are much worse. Like the 2016 movie is worse in terms of structure, writing performances.

But this thing….is boring. This is an Applebee’s entrée served up straight out of the microwave with no electric lemonade. Jason Reitman is your cook and you ordered The Force Awakens special.

I mean that’s what this is. This is The Force Awakens….nah nah, this is even worse. This is like Rogue One level of member berries. Like, remember that scene where Venkman gives Egon a crunch bar? Nope. Of course you don’t, unless your me. Well, the crunch bar is in this fucking movie.

Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let me cover the two things I do like about the movie:

  1. Mckenna Grace is really the highlight of the movie. I thought for sure she would annoy the shit out of me over the running time, but nope. She completely owns every scene she’s in. I hope she has a fantastic career from here, free of insanity and abuse.
  2. The action actually works a little bit here. Its like the opposite of Resurrections. The action here is well paced and shot well enough. Jason Reitman isn’t really known for his action work, but he does decent work with all the action in the film. It’s not innovative or spectacular. Its just effective.

Ok, now the shame. You know, I kept thinking about Resurrections as I watched this, that had a great beginning and just got worse. This thing has an interesting idea (kind of) but nothing groundbreaking. And then the film meanders… Sometimes its ok. And you think it’ll work. Like the stuff with The Littlest Spengler. But oh no, then they will hit you with REMEMBER THIS. Remember the “Maid Needed” hanger on the door to the Ghostbusters office at Columbia University? Well its here. Cause remember it.

Like the fucking third act. I cannot believe the third act of this movie. It is 100% original Ghostbusters fully re-done. Gozer. Zuul. Vinz Glortho. Keymaster+Gatekeeper summoning Gozer. The whole smash. The only difference is the mechanism of defeat. And its to the point where it is so dull…you know what’s going to happen. They set up the giant trap field in the first 5 minutes. When they manage to figure out how to get it to work, it doesn’t feel like an achievement. It feels like it had to happen cause they weren’t going to lose…

This is one of these movies where I feel like the characters in the film have to have seen the original Ghostbusters movie to be able to function. They do things that make no sense in context of THIS movie. For example, when Gozer is defeated, Finn Wolfhard immediately runs to break the now stone terror dogs and rescue his friends. How the fuck does he not know they are dead? Guess they didn’t want to repeat THAT beat from the first film. The only one.

Also, why the fuck is every character in this movie a total dick to each other. Like Venkman was a dick, but that was in character. Everyone harasses everyone else constantly to the point where you just want someone nice to show up on screen.

Lets do some other mechanics of filmmaking. Like why the fuck do they reuse Elmer Bernstein’s original score. OVER AND OVER. Like if you have seen the original film once, you will recognize each queue. They have whole dialogue scenes using the music that they had in the background while ray explains the car. Its extremely distracting. Like even Star Wars has new music in there. It isn’t just the Empire March and the Star Wars theme over and over. This just feels….like too much.

The direction is serviceable and that’s it. Its clear Jason Reitman still has some chops, but what you get is nothing special. Also, the Egon’s barn set at night clearly is made to look like a set on purpose (and it does), but it does feel goofy in that regard.

All the other actors who aren’t Mckenna Grace feel like they are phoning it in. Not that their acting is bad, just uninspired.

Ok, lets get to the elephant in the room. This movie is entirely driven by the fact that the phenomenal Harold Ramis is no longer with us. I couldn’t figure out why the fuck they would do that, until I found out that Violet Ramis and Jason Reitman grew up together. The whole movie makes so much more sense in context. It’s Jason writing a version of his friend getting to know her dad…

All of that said, I cannot fucking believe they CG resurrect Egon Spengler. If Harold Ramis were alive, I have no doubt he would be glad they made him thinner. I don’t think he would care, but I fucking hate it.

The movie begins and ends with CG Egon doing shit. You get the full reveal at the end of the movie and it just….feels tasteless. They do it so everyone can say goodbye (all 3 alive original Ghostbusters show up at the end). They give Ray this stupid storyline of him losing the ghost-faith in Egon, which makes no sense considering Ray is the zealot. But, more than any of that, I can’t believe these guys who knew Harold since the beginning are fucking cool with this.

Can’t we let dead actors stay dead. Like they did it to Peter Cushing in the aforementioned Rogue One. And now Harold Ramis lives beyond the grave for them to do whatever they want with him.

It feels extremely unnecessary. And in bad taste.

In fact, that’s a good overall summary for the film. Unnecessary and in bad taste. The ending is a series of vignettes with the original cast and setting up for another sequel with a failure (again) of the original containment unit. The movie has nothing in it that justifies going back to the original Ghostbusters movie AGAIN for a sequel.

1/4 – I struggled with this. Like the movie is servicable, but has no reason to exist. I have a feeling that if you haven’t seen Ghostbusters in like 10 years or so, you will like it more than I would. Like I think my parents will love this movie. I would have called it an airplane movie, if that was a thing people still did. It’s not slapdash like Ghostbusters 2016, but I have a feeling I will have an easier time rewatching the 2016 film than I will this.

Fucking, both Egon Spengler and Harold Ramis deserve better.

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