When a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.
How to find a fitting entry into this movie review? There are so many good reasons not to watch anything coming from the Ghostbusters franchise. Because, let’s face it, the original movie was a singular movie, it was never planned to be an elongated story, a thing to be waltzed out and made into cartoons and action figures and toys and all that stuff. I’d even say the original 1984 GB was an accidental masterpiece, it lived from the quirky cast, from dry one-liners and just the right blend of drama and comedy. GB was the right film at the right time.
A thing impossible to repeat or to recreate. Already the second and third movies kinda sucked, although they had Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis still in the cast. So the decision to stop the Ghostbusters after the 3rd movie was wise. And we could clearly see how ill-advised the 2016 reboot was. It just had to flop.
And flop it did.
And still Sony obviously didn’t have enough. And so, another 5 years later, and with a heavy burden on the franchise’s pretty small shoulders, they tried it again.
And? How was it?
See, there is my second problem. It was, to get that right out of the way, better than the 2016 suckfest. Much better. But was GB:Afterlife good enough to justify its existence in a dead franchise?
You see, in order to resuscitate the dead-in-the-water Ghostbusters you need something great, something spectacular, something that reaches the quality and social impact of the 1984 original. And GB:Afterlife failed that approach.
Spectacularly! No, not even spectacularly. It just failed. Without much fanfare and heated discussions on the interwebz, and without childish blaming of the fans. Because Ghostbusters doesn’t really have a fanbase, not anymore. And that imagined fanbase won’t call for a revolution and Jason Reitman’s head. The targeted audience will just stay home and ignore the existence of Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
Jason Reitman isn’t as good a director as his father was, none of the – undoubtly talented – cast has the onscreen presence of Murray and Aykroyd. And the screenplay … yeah, it sucked.
Why is it so hard to understand for modern Hollywood that you can’t buy a box office-success by throwing some multimillion Woolongs at your project. What you need is a good screenplay! All the rest is forgivable. We can live with bad acting, and bad directing, we can live with b-movie production values. As long as the story told is a good one, we can forget and forgive many small niggle points. Come to think of it, the original Ghostbusters was by no means a perfect film. It never really knew what it was supposed to be, horror shlocker, social commentary or overly long SNL sketch. I guess it was by pure accident that they managed to pack all 3 genres in one neat little film. It was a gamble, that played out. It could have backfired, you know? But it didn’t.
So there we are, with – arguably – one of the best movies ever made at our hands … and no idea how to make more money from it.
Didn’t you learn from the Ben-Hur remake? Or from any of the other remakes or franchises who overstayed their welcome? At some point you can’t gouge out any more revenues from the original property and you must lay it to rest. With Ghostbusters Sony have clearly broken all the rules, they have overstayed their welcome.
And this is my criticism of GB:Afterlife: It missed the mark. In all aspects and in everything the original hit so perfectly. The characters are ok-ish, but not outstanding, the story in itself is … ok-ish as well but has no staying power. Exactly the two things that made the 1984 film such a hit, are the points where the new one can’t compete.
Yes, they had Muncher in it, and Zuul, and that sexy secretary and – long live nostalgia – Ecto 1. Actually, by looking at the posters and the movie stills, Ecto 1 seems to be the planned main draw. A fuxn vehicle! And you make it the main MacGuffin? Ok, so why didn’t you film a very moving scene with Finn Wolfhard when he finds the old station waggon in the barn and takes it out for a ride? That should’ve been epic! Or sarcastically funny. But in this flick Ecto 1 was just a vehicle to get our teenage gang into problems.
Oh, and the original Ghostbusters who were wasted again on an unworthy project. Bill Murray, in his 3 secs of screentime showed so much more Ghostbusters spirit than all of the 2022 crew thrown together.
And then … the ending. OMG! Why is modern H-wood incapable of ending a movie when the story is over? First they are getting salty in the last couple minutes and then they had to give us two additional scenes during the end-credits. I just checked, runtime of the new film is 2:04 hours! A better director could’ve told the pretty simple and straightforward story in 90 minutes, and spared us the boredom. Too much is too much, Mr. Reitman jr. And not even the best add-on scene can save your flick from ending up in the Walmart bargain bin.
CONCLUSION: As mentioned in the beginning, GB:Afterlife is much better than the 2016 trainwreck … but, honestly, that’s not a sign of success. Pretty much every little shitflick is better than that. It’s not enough to have your heart in the right place. In order to needlessly revitalize the Ghostbusters franchise, which is a hard task, you gotta be so much better! And this attempt clearly wasn’t.