Ghostbusters: Afterlife

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Sony Pictures is apparently pretty desperate to make a Ghostbusters revival happen. Audiences, in a fervor of sexism and hatred, killed the Paul Feig reboot of 2016 forcing Sony Pictures to go the Disney route and revive “the narrative” of the Ivan Reitman films of the eighties. Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) is the result; a product of plenty of market research, fan service and self-promotion.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife follows the grandchildren of an original ghostbuster as they battle an ancient god of the underworld in rural Oklahoma. The ghostbusters of Ghostbusters: Afterlife aren’t three white adult males and one Black man nor are they a ragtag group of ass-kicking women; they’re kids. With help from their slacker teacher and manic depressive mother, evil doesn’t stand a chance against these third generation ghostbusters.

Too sheepish to be as audacious as Feig, Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife plays it safe as the third chapter in the original Ghostbusters continuity. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is essentially the first film from 1984 reimagined as a kids movie that follows the familiar formula of Jumanji (1995). This leaves very little that will appeal to fans of the first two films other than the obvious tributes that abound like fleas on a dog.

Finn Wolfhard is quickly becoming the face of 80s nostalgia in media, adding Ghostbusters: Afterlife to a filmography that includes the show Stranger Things and It (2018). Mckenna Grace is the defacto star of the film and does a good job carrying the major dramatic beats, even if they are cheesey as hell. But Jason Reitman all but wastes PEOPLE Magazine’s “sexiest man alive, 2021” by not once paying homage to his most unhinged performance in Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers (1995); a crime we should not forgive.

Where Feig dared to reinvent Reitman is content to wallow in the past. There are some hollow attempts to appear relevant (there’s a character named Podcast who has a podcast) but really Reitman would rather be filming the now elderly Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson kick poltergeist ass. With groundbreaking special effects even the late Harold Ramis appears during the climactic battle against Gozer.

What’s really puzzling though is the fact that Ghostbusters (1984) isn’t even that good a movie. It’s fun and it was popular enough to spawn a direct sequel in 1989 but that film was really bad. For twenty-seven years Ghostbusters was a failed franchise. Putting aside money as a motivating factor for the studios involved, why do people want more of this crap? Don’t they see that Ghostbusters is inextricably linked to its moment in the mid-eighties?