Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) - 7/10
I’m always skeptical of reboots, I’m not keen on sequels even. Here we are though and despite the original Ghostbusters not fairing brilliantly through a modern lens, if you grew up in the 80s, it’s part of your pop culture DNA. Predictably we’re right into the action. This is a popcorn film after all. The streets of New York make way for the cornfields of Summerville, USA. Egon has decamped to the sticks. The ghosties have followed him too though or the other way around and make an appearance right away in a pre-titles sequence where they catch up with him, although always in the shadows. After all Ramis of course has passed on and this is in fact dedicated to him. It better be good. The rest of the story, picks up with his daughter and her kids Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard). They take over Egon’s possessed rickety old farmhouse in the sort of town that predates the 80s. It’s all pretty promising and plays to the tone of its predecessor, with a good dose of The Goonies thrown in to help. You’re not gonna have to work hard to keep up and it’s not tempted to go the gritty reboot route. It’s not scary. More of a matinee light thriller. Some of the characters are fun though. Mr Grooberson (Paul Rudd) is the summer school teacher with a covert sideline interest and Podcast (Logan Kim) a rather adorable kid full of local lore and conspiracies. Both befriend Phoebe and her spooky heritage. With Grooberson and Podcast vying for the comic relief title. These three are the best thing about the film. Trevor’s side story of trying to get in with the local kids and Lucky (Celeste O’Connor) in particular just doesn’t land and it’s littered with plot holes big enough for the Stay Puft marshmallow man to walk through, although here he’s much more diminutive. In short it’s a bit dumb. Switch off your brain though and the FX, nostalgia on which it leans heavily and dust bowl aesthetics are entertaining enough. McKenna Grace is the glue, despite her characters annoying acceptance of the ghosts around her, including that of her grandfather helping her from beyond the grave. She does all the heavy lifting, including dragging some old faces into this new future. Aykroyd, Murray, Hudson and Weaver all feature with varying success. We may be getting on for being nearly 4 decades since Ghostbusters (I know!), but the premise is the same. Dangerous demons determined to breach a gateway to our world and destroy us all. Gatekeepers, keymasters. It’s really not making any attempt to be clever or inventive. All it’s missing is some Ray Parker Ju… oh no there it is. It’s silly, it’s schmaltzy, even a bit emotional and you know what. Even though it’s a bit long and has the sort of finale that would make Spielberg blush. I liked it!