Ghostbusters: Afterlife a lovingly nostalgic blast of fun

Ghostbusters: Afterlife | Official Website | Sony Pictures

I have long been a fan of Ghostbusters. Those who’ve followed my journey through 40 years of film in my life will know that the original film—released in 1984—was on my list as my favorite film from the year it was released. I’ve seen that film, it’s 1989 sequel and 2016 re-boot many times and own copies of all three on disc and digital.

So, I was both an easy sell on the idea of revisiting the world and cautious when it comes to a sequel more than 30 years after the fact. The early trailers had me intrigued and I was excited to see the film. Then we had to wait. And wait. Then, wait some more. The pandemic pushed back the release until finally, Friday, we got to see this next take on the world.

It was worth the wait.

This one centers on Callie (Carrie Coon), a single mom to Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) who is down on her luck and low on funds. She gets word that her estranged father who abandoned her years earlier has died, leaving her a farm in Oklahoma. With no other options, she picks up and moves her kids there for the summer.

While in Oklahoma, she stumbles upon the truth of why her father left, what he was doing and who he really is as Phoebe finds a connection to her passion for science and a mystery that holds the key to safeguarding the world.

Ghostbusters was written by stars Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, directed by Ivan Reitman. Ramis, a gifted writer and actor, passed away in 2014. This film serves as a tribute to him and his Ghostbusters character, Egon Spengler. It’s also a fitting love letter to the original film. It’s a re-boot, but also a sequel.

Fittingly, the film was directed by Jason Reitman, whose father Ivan directed the original film and its sequel. Reitman is a talented director who has delivered some beautiful and profound films. I’ve long been struck by his ability to blend humor and drama, creating rich emotional connections to his characters. He plies that talent here, delivering a moving and engaging world that he co-wrote in addition to directing.

Fans of the films will recognize all the references, nods and easter eggs, but those that just want a fun trip to the movies will find plenty to engage with here, too. Grace is an absolute delight in the lead role, while Wolfhard, Coon and Paul Rudd are all a lot of fun. This film feels part Goonies and part Ghostbusters, fusing the two together to create something that’s an absolute blast.

I enjoyed the setting, the look and feel here. Moving the action away from New York and into the country is a fun wrinkle and the special effects and graphics—greatly improved from the 1980s—are a lot of fun here, too.

I was hoping for something good but Ghostbusters: Afterlife delivers something great. It’s a popcorn movie with depth and plenty of special surprises I won’t dare ruin here. If you are a fan of the franchise, this is can’t miss. But if you’re just looking for a blast at the movies, this has that in spades, too.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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