Making a Ghostbusters film where Ray Stantz, Peter Venkman, Winston Zeddemore, and Egon Spengler are sidelined is a tough ask. Just ask Melissa McCarthy and her co-stars from the 2016 soft reboot. This time around, though, the filmmakers understood the brief with Ghostbusters: Afterlife: honour the past but move towards the future. But does it hold up compared to the original films?
The new characters in Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Recently, someone mentioned that Ghostbusters: Afterlife looks like it has been Stranger Things-ified. Well, it’s an obvious comparison considering Finn Wolfhard’s presence here as Trevor Spengler. And in many ways, it is true as the kids are the glue of the story. Mckenna Grace’s Phoebe and Logan Kim’s Podcast carry the film for the most part as their dynamic is not only earnest and sweet, but they’re also extremely likable.
In terms of the adult characters, Carrie Coon’s Callie Spengler and Paul Rudd’s Gary Grooberson are the two standouts—mostly because they get the most screen time. As expected, Rudd fits into this universe like a glove. His natural comedic timing and reactions to everything happening around him are as you’d expect and he’s pretty much this film’s Louis Tully in more ways than one.
Honouring the legacy
Without diving into too many spoilers, everyone knows that the original Ghostbusters figure in this movie. However, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is largely about the Spengler family history and the departed Egon, who seemingly turned his back on his friends and family to live in a decayed farmhouse in Summerville, Oklahoma. After his family move into the house and weird occurrences start happening in the town … well, when there’s something strange in the neighbourhood, who you gonna call?
While Ghostbusters: Afterlife is fresh with new characters, it ties in seamlessly into the first two films. There are numerous connections that form an overarching narrative that pieces everything together and should leave fans satisfied by the outcome. Sure, some people might refer to it as fan service and not reinventing the wheel, but wouldn’t it make sense to close the story loop here, especially after the passing of Harold Ramis?
Fans have demanded Ghostbusters 3 for the longest time, and this is the closest they’ll ever get to seeing it.
But is this really Ghostbusters 3?
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is effectively the third arc of the story. The first film introduced us to the main characters, the second movie cemented the characters’ legacy, and now this latest effort helps them to wave goodbye.
But here’s the thing: Ghostbusters should end with this film. The way the story concludes is perfect and gives closure to all the characters. There’s simply no reason to create another film as this gives fans everything they could’ve wanted out of this universe. After this, it’ll be a hard sell to release any further movies.
Ultimately, Ghostbusters: Afterlife captures the spirit of what made the first two films so special. Instead of trying to do something entirely different, director Jason Reitman honoured his father Ivan’s original vision and the story created by Dan Aykroyd and Ramis. It’s supernatural. It’s funny. But most importantly, it has heart.
Ghostbusters’ Afterlife arrives in South African cinemas on 19th November 2021.