Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Ghostbusters: Afterlife - Movie Review

The Movie: Ghostbusters: Afterlife

The Director: Jason Reitman

The Cast: Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Annie Potts, Paul Rudd, Celeste O'Connor, Logan Kim, Bokeem Woodbine

The Story: 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.

The Review:
If I were to rank my all time favorite movies, the original Ghostbusters would be pretty high on that list so any sequel is going to come with a fair amount of expectation. The Ghostbusters movie that came out a few years ago, while well intended, just didn't hit the right notes or provide a story worthy of the franchise, especially since it was a reimaging of the concept rather than being a straight sequel. The number one thing this movie has going for it is its intent and purpose to honor the late, great Harold Ramis who, if you don't know, was one of the original on screen Ghostbusters and also co-wrote the story.

Ramis, who passed away in 2014, is highly respected both as an actor and as a filmmaker and Ghostbusters is probably considered his most iconic and memorable work. The director of Ghostbusters was Ivan Reitman so it feels very appropriate that his son Jason Reitman would take over behind the camera for this new film and, for me, the result was almost seamless. I think it would have to be very difficult to capture the same tone and style of a movie made almost 40 years ago and in a completely different setting and yet Reitman has found a way to do just that. The movie 100% looks and feels like a Ghostbusters movie, if that makes sense.

There is just the right mix of comedy, really well written comedy at that, action, and nostalgia and the whole experience for me was just perfect in a way that honors the past while effortlessly moving the franchise forward. Yes, this means there will be more from the franchise and I will say this is a complete movie and not one that feels like a prologue to future installments or an episode in a series of stories. There is a complete beginning, middle, and end to the movie and the creators also manage to introduce an entire new cast of characters in very meaningful ways.

Top of that list is McKenna Grace who has been on a steady trajectory to super stardom for over a decade being featured in films like Gifted and Troop Zero along the way. Her performance in this movie as Phoebe, a nerdy, introverted high school student, is an absolute showstopper and her ability to deliver a science joke is completely flawless. I feel like this character could become one of those ones we look back on as a milestone of what should be a long, career achievement worthy career. Along for the ride are Finn Wolfhard, Celeste O'Connor, and Logan Kim as the younger generation of characters (pictured below) and Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, and Bokeem Woodbine filling out other starring roles.

Of course, if you were to look at the official credits for the movie, you will some other familiar names, but I'm not going to go down that road in this review because of who they are and what they mean to the story. Yes, the story does have plenty of callbacks and homages to what has come before and I really like how all of it was handled. To me, none of it feels forced or gratuitous even as so much of it is ingrained in the story telling right from the start and all the way through to the very end. I also really liked how the movie is fun, exciting, and feels big without getting overblown which leaves a lot of room to go bigger in future installments.

The Verdict:
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a super fun movie that honors the past while paving the way for the future. Great mix of new and old with standout performances from McKenna Grace, Carrie Coon, and mini marshmallow men.

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