Expectation was always going to be high for any sequel to a much loved original film and Ghostbusters Afterlife battles to overcome the disappointment of the first sequel and an ill fated 2016 reboot. But the success of the cartoon series and the affection that the 1984 original is held by those who saw it the first time round or has been discovered by those born years has led to eager anticipation for the release of the much delayed release of Ghostbusters Afterlife.
Sequel or reboot? Its’ a bit of both with Mom (Carrie Coon) still smarting after the perceived abandonment by her father (Harold Ramis). Now a single mum with 15 year Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and his younger sister Phoebe (a really great turn by Mckenna Grace) they move out to their grandfathers farmhouse which Mum has inherited in his will. Phoebe, the budding scientist, enrols at the local school and befriended by Podcast (an enjoyable Logan Kim) who’s every moment he deems podcast worthy. Their class is led by seizmologist Gary (Paul Rudd) whose method of teaching is to let them watch old films giving him time to fathom the bizarre seemingly inexplicable Earth tremors. So whilst she is doing science Trevor is trying to get lucky with young waitress Lucky (Celeste O Connor) at a local retro burger bar. There’s a lot of set up going on before any ghosts actually appear with a glimpse of a glutinous ghost Muncher, an intended replacement for the beloved Slimer. It’s when clouds swirl above a disused mine shaft much like they did towards the climax of the first film that it all starts hotting up for the expected apocalyptic end of the world with Trevor and Phoebe along with Mom and Gary enlisted with defeating a newly awakened revisiting demon.
Along the way there are plenty of nods to the 84 film and the film replays many of the beats from that film which will please the legions of fans and their check list but there’s a feeling that you wanted the film makers to create some original moments rather than homage or recreate those from the original. Of course there is the expected cameos which work far better than they did in the 2016 version where they calamitously played other characters. Here they are back reprising their iconic roles except for the late Harold Ramis though the film manages to honour him in a suitable manner even if it does get a little schmaltzy towards the end.
But nevertheless this will please fans of the iconic first film and focuses on harnessing a new audience with the young leads cast to appeal to a younger audience and on that level it works well. And this has embraced the love for practical effects and sparingly used CGI and it’s noticeable that it keen to ignore the two previous films when they discover an ancient inscription that takes in the Ghostbusters New York battle in 1984 but wilfully ignores any reference to the following films. For fans this is the sequel they’ve been waiting for…….oh and yes there’s an end credit sequence which director Jason Reitman and his father Ivan who directed the first two films alludes to below when they introduced the film to us