Final Verdict: Maybe it’s time to call someone else.
About The Film
Thirty-seven years after the original cult-classic Ghostbusters, Hollywood is asking audiences once again, “Who you gonna call?” Since 2016’s ill-advised all-female reboot is best left locked away in a ghost trap, Ghostbusters: Afterlife marks the first true continuation of the beloved saga since 1989. The ghosts may be back, but unfortunately this long-awaited sequel suggests that maybe it’s time to call someone else to deal with them.
Afterlife is not without its strengths. The indisputable star of the movie is nostalgia. The film allows viewers to rediscover the Ghostbusters through the eyes of the younger cast, handling the franchise legacy with almost absurd reverence. The incorporation of the original story and characters is clever and well done with scenes and footage from the original film now amusingly made in-world canon through YouTube clips. The filmmakers appear to have taken notes from some of the fan dissatisfaction toward Star Wars: The Force Awakens and have given the original Ghostbusting crew a fitting sendoff.
The main problem with the film is that stripped of its nostalgic heart pulls, there’s simply not much left. The film is surprisingly sparse on actual ghosts. Outside of a few scattered scenes, the film is largely ghost-free. While I commend the filmmakers for staying true to the aesthetic of the original rather than a messy CGI-fest, the lack of ghosts becomes noticeable given the uninspired and dull human narrative. Paul Rudd’s childish science teacher is good for some laughs, Carrie Coon as a single mom who “just can’t even” is endearing, and the kids are all fine as well, but no one is given anything interesting to do.
Centering the film on the younger cast also results in a much different tone than the original film. The heavy reliance on nostalgia is aimed toward older viewers who grew up with the original, while the younger cast shifts the tone to something that might show up on Disney+ around Halloween time. As a result, the movie is too cute and kid friendly for the older audience, and too reliant on the nostalgia of a 37-year-old film to connect with the younger audience. The film rides a line between “there’s something for everyone” and “trying to appeal to everyone and thus pleasing no one.”
In the end, the movie is entertaining enough while viewing but will likely be forgotten by the time you get home from the theater. Despite studio aspirations of relaunching the Ghostbusters franchise, Ghostbusters: Afterlife serves more as a one-and-done opportunity to revisit and pay homage to the classic film than as something that warrants further sequels.
Profanity: Several minor profanities (S—, B—d, etc).
Sexuality: A female character is briefly shown changing (no skin is visible). Two characters have sex (implied but not shown). Characters mock teen virginity.
Violence:A character (a reanimated corpse) is torn in half. The moment is disturbing, but brief and bloodless.
Engage the Film
Belief in the Supernatural
As with many supernatural and paranormal stories, Ghostbusters deals with the theme that there is more to reality than the mere physical. At one point, one character says to his skeptical friend, “You don’t believe in ghosts? Even with all the evidence?” The moment is humorous (the speaker readily believes in virtually anything), but as the rest of the characters quickly discover, the kid is right!
The town where the story takes places experiences regular unexplained earthquakes. The phenomenon has become a regular part of the citizen’s daily routine. Only Paul Rudd’s character shows any curiosity about their origin and cause. The story beat becomes almost a parable of complacent people unable to recognize the supernatural reality happening around them every day.
While the paranormal word that Ghostbusters: Afterlife presents is not true to Biblical teaching, the film is a valuable reminder that there is a spiritual and nonphysical reality to the world.