Tyson Van De Berg- Guest Writer
You know what? Sometimes it’s okay to give the fans what they want. That was my first thought after watching the much-anticipated Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
The film, directed by Jason Reitman, son of the original ‘Ghostbusters’ film director Ivan Reitman, follows the story of Phoebe, a twelve-year-old science whiz, and her family as they discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the legacy their estranged grandfather, Egon Spengler of the original Ghostbusters, left behind in the desolate Oklahoma town of Summerville.
While not living up to the massive success and scale of the original film in its franchise, the film recognizes its predecessors and pays homage to the first film by using it as the basis for its own plot, as well as planting references to the original film within its own story. All of this gives the movie a passing-the-torch type feel, while still staying true to its own theme of family.
The story consists of clever witty humor, gripping thrills and a welcome update to the visual effects of the original film, both practical and CGI. This film also features several strong distinct characters portrayed by talented and well-known actors.
Paul Rudd plays an enthusiastic science teacher who brings a lot of laughs and clever riffs. The child-actors in this film also have a lot of heart and personality to each of them. Logan Kim gives a hilarious and charming performance as Phoebe’s first friend in Summerville.
But Mckenna Grace took the real standout performance. Grace played Phoebe, a character who echoes Egon from the original film, a socially awkward but brilliantly smart leader of the group. Fans would expect nothing less from Egon’s granddaughter.
However, Afterlife has a few flaws. While its respect for the original film does come across as well-meaning, fan service is still no substitute for a well-executed story. There are several times, particularly in the beginning of the film, where references to previous films are too frequent, thus leaving watchers groan rather than laugh. It is not until after first hour that the story stands on its own two, ghostly feet.
Even then, it still largely echoes the storyline of the original film, requiring at least one, if not several viewings of the first film to completely understand the story.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife uses the success of the first film to improve itself. It serves as an enjoyable experience full of thrills, laughs, and heart, as well as a love-letter to the original film and the fans who come back for more 37 years later.