Movie Review: Ghostbusters: Afterlife

I’d say 4.5 out of 5 stars for this one, with the note that fanfic writers might get even more of a kick out of it than your average movie fans. The way the movie writers scattered bits of background canon info through the movie is exactly what a lot of good fanfic writers do. Shandor mining. Girders made with cores of pure selenium. The gradual discovery of a PKE meter, a firepole, a collection of spores, molds, and fungi….

(Spoilers ahead, just so you know.)

And like some of the best fics it shows, it doesn’t explain. Unless there’s an in-universe reason to explain something. (A guy geeking out over a “replica ghost trap”, for example, only to realize it’s no replica….) Items, events, and relationships are all part of the characters’ everyday worlds. There’s no reason to explain things until they get weird.

(Of course they get weird. It’s Ghostbusters.)

Particular props to the actress who plays Phoebe, because you can believe her as Egon’s granddaughter. The hair and the glasses give a physical resemblance, yes, but the cinchers are the mannerisms (eyebrows!), the social awkwardness, and the rare but explosive flashes of temper.

(If you don’t recall Egon having a temper, rewatch the first movie and note who nearly strangles an EPA agent. It’s not Peter.)

I also applaud Jason Reitman’s decision to as much as possible use the same kinds of props, costumes, and visual effects as the first two movies. It gives the feel of the original Ghostbusters universe, only decades later. This is particularly important when you’re portraying a world where ghosts – and the equipment to deal with them – are scientifically verifiable. That implies they follow set laws of physics, and therefore things like how a proton beam behaves and how a ghost manifests should not change arbitrarily. To the Mark I sensor we call a human eyeball that runs on visual light and its physics, they should look the same.

This movie feels like rediscovering a fandom you loved years back, unearthing all your reference material for a good look-through, and thinking, “Oh man, this was fun. I’m going to write another story, picking up these threads left over from canon….”

Afterlife does a fair job of tying up loose ends of “what happened after they beat Vigo the Carpathian”. And the fact ghost activity seemed to drop to near-nothing again fits with how things started in the very first movie – ghosts didn’t start being a visible problem until Dana’s ghost-summoning building collected enough energy. Also fits with the lore recounted by the Keymaster, of Gozer being summoned at different times and places.

Beyond that, it gives the promise of “yes, there will be Ghostbusters for future ghostly problems”, given that end bit with Winston, and an aging containment unit….

I liked it. It’s bittersweet that Harold Ramis is not around to see it, I think he’d have liked it too.

And I’m hoping people write lots of fanfic.

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13 thoughts on “Movie Review: Ghostbusters: Afterlife

  1. Ah, I remember seeing ads for that reboot! I’ll admit I was scared off the franchise by that one with the all female cast (I didn’t watch it, but the advertising leading up to it was a major turn-off for me.) Good to hear that movie was actually good! I’ll see if I can catch it the next time I have some free time

    Liked by 2 people

    1. One Youtube comment I saw mentioned that Afterlife essentially declared the 2016 movie (the all-female reboot) as non-canon with one line. The line about how there hadn’t been any ghost sightings in the past 30 years. That all by itself made me at least willing to check it out: if the director is willing to give the audience a nod and a wink to say “Hey, we know the last one was bad”, that means they’re probably not going to make the mistakes the last one made.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Well, to be fair, the 2016 film very blatantly had nothing to do with the original film, aside from the name (and some patronizing fan-sop cameos by some of the OG cast). It was a different continuity entirely. Those streams don’t cross at all. 😀

        The turkey that GB:A *had* to deal with was GB2, which… I’d have been fine if GB:A pretended that GB2 never happened, but as it stands, I’m satisfied with how they handled it.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. I really enjoyed this movie! The kids were cute and the romances between the mom and Gary and between Lucky and Trevor was actually believable, awkward flirting and all! It also felt like a realistic (for Ghostbusters) sequel. I cried at the climax, as well.

    Also it wasn’t another freaking soulless repetitive remake/superhero movie, which made it very refreshing. You could feel that the people working on it loved to OG Ghostbusters.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Yes, I wondered if you would like it, and I felt the same way you do, like it was a well done fanfiction! Phoebe was my absolute favorite character in the show and I’m looking forward to what that actor does in the future, because she already has a decent range. And they gave plenty of room for fanfic writers to have fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 100% agree. GB:A *nailed* it — not only a massive fanwank (in a GOOD way!), but also a *good* standalone movie.

    I realized shortly after watching it that GB:A was like a perfect mirror of what Star Wars 7-9 (especially 8!) got wrong: in the SW sequels, the relationships between the core characters of the original trilogy were either ignored, deconstructed, or given very brief glimpses that *reeked* of “oh, *fine*, throw the fans a bone or they’ll never stop complaining”.

    Whereas, in GB:A, the character relationships *matter*. And the *broken* relationships get *fixed*, or at least get some meaningful closure. The OG cast only gets a brief appearance, but it doesn’t leave you feeling shortchanged. *And* the OGs *don’t* steal the show from the next-gen characters, despite showing up and saving the day — near the climax, the save-the-day ball gets passed around faster than a GlobeTrotters basketball, lot’s of blink-and-you-miss-it. I like “teamwork saves” over “hero saves,” generally.

    Bottom line: the SW sequels were all about the director’s ego, where GB:A was about the *characters*.

    And yes, Mckenna Grace *sells the hell* out of being Egon’s granddaughter. I was in awe, frankly.

    There’s several YT videos about the work that went into the props, including the complete restoration of Ecto-1. Fun stuff.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. If you don’t recall Egon having a temper, rewatch the first movie and note who nearly strangles an EPA agent

    That’s not a temper, that’s being properly respectful of the Right and True, and a rightious desire to prot– OK, yeah, he has a temper but it’s justified. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The subscriber thing. My goodness, I loved that. Walked around for days repeating it to myself every so often.

    Speaking of fanfic… That Michelle Yeoh movie has the guy who played Short Round in it. I had no idea what he looked like as an adult, or that he was a fight choreographer.

    Why the heck didn’t they invite him back for Indy movies?

    Liked by 1 person

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