“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is a lifeless sequel


In his memorable 1984 theme song, singer Ray Parker Jr. said he was not afraid of ghosts. Now Hollywood doesn’t seem to be either. Over the past few years, the film industry has strived to resurrect any property with even the slightest brand recognition, be it Space jam Where Trainspotting Where Blade runner; if a movie has ever had a cult following, it deserves a long-delayed sequel. ghost hunters is, in theory, more worthy than most – the original was a colossal success. But it’s already spawned Part 2, a female-led spin-off, and plenty of cartoons, video games, and toy lines. Now there is Ghostbusters: the afterlife, which makes a concerted, almost macabre effort to revive everything audiences loved about the original. The result is not frightening, but it is lifeless.

Ghostbusters: the afterlife is directed and co-written by Jason Reitman, a former freelance sweetheart who never kept his original promises with dramatic comedies such as Juno and Thank you for smoking. A gap in franchise material would be weirder if it weren’t for the son of Ivan Reitman, who directed the first two ghost hunters films and produced this one; the theme of family permeates the entire movie, which follows a single mom named Callie (played by Carrie Coon), who is the estranged daughter of one of the early Ghostbusters, Egon Spengler (the late Harold Ramis). The plot involves a literal dig into the past: When Callie’s children discover supernatural activity in small town Oklahoma, they dust off proton packs and their grandfather’s dilapidated car to fight off evil spirits that have been banished to a mine shaft.

As awkward as it may sound, the story is told with a lot of reverent seriousness. The camera lingers with admiration on Spengler’s old inventions, which litter the farm to which he has retired; When her grandchildren take the famous ghost fighting vehicle for a ride, a splash of fire hydrant water reveals the Ghostbusters logo. The film seems to want to reproduce the mythical aura of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was presented to the public in a similar fashion, as a long-awaited comeback that would meet expectations in a way that others Star wars the aftereffects had failed to do so. JJ Abrams achieved this by reverting to the spirit of George Lucas’ first film, wrapping the same heroic story arcs around new characters and surrounding them with old versions of older ones. Reitman does the same, but the hushed and regal approach just doesn’t match the material.

The 1984 ghost hunters was, after all, a riot of laughter, even though it came in sci-fi packaging. Written by Ramis and Dan Aykroyd, it succeeded in infusing a special effects-laden blockbuster with the grimy and adorable energy of 1980s New York. Somehow, a movie where scientists shoot about Ghosts with Lasers turned out to be a blue-collar buddy comedy. Followed by Reitman in 1989, Ghostbusters II, have mostly repeated the formula at massively reduced returns. Paul Feig’s new edition in 2016 took place in an alternate universe with four female stars, a creative move that sparked huge backlash, although the controversy seemed in part to be rooted in factors beyond the control of the filmmakers.

While Feig’s version angered die-hard fans, Reitman’s is trying to do the opposite, doing everything possible to assure them of the importance of the original film. Viewers find out that Spengler at one point moved to the city of Summerville, Oklahoma; was estranged from his daughter and fellow Ghostbusters; and conducted bizarre experiments on a decrepit farmhouse until its mysterious end. Callie spends much of the movie angry with her late father, but her daughter, Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), is like a carbon copy of Egon – bespectacled, clumsy, and obsessed with science. She starts doing her own ghost hunt with the help of her brother, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and local kids Lucky (Celeste O’Connor) and Podcast (Logan Kim, and yes, the character is actually called Podcast. ).

Columbia Pictures / Sony Pictures

It turns out that the ghosts of Callie’s day are largely the same as her grandfather’s. Remember the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, the snarling demonic dogs or the evil shapeshifter Gozer the Gozerian? They’re all back in one form or another, and while the famous troublemaker Slimer is nowhere to be found, there’s a blobby blue ghost named Muncher who fills the same energetic role. Paul Rudd completes the cast as a helpful summer school teacher – he and Coon, who embark on a low-key romance in the film, manage to put on sweet, human performances in a film that is otherwise boring and hollow.

This is in part because the seedy comedic spirit of the original film is absent, replaced by longer action scenes and cutesy childrens lines. Ghostbusters: the afterlife is derivative but not impossible to watch – until the last gruesome act, which brings back the original cast Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson, along with other surprise cameos that seem unnecessary and, in one case, bordering on the flesh. of chicken. The original ghost hunters thrived on disrespect, and seeing him treated with such moon-eyed worship is terribly counterproductive. Not all blockbuster movies of the past need to be cherished like a holy script, and Hollywood could be a little more careful when it comes to bringing ghosts back from the dead.