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.