Ghostbusters: Afterlife review: an expanded franchise for a new generation

After more than a year of delays, Ghostbusters: Another Life it’s finally heading to theaters. The newest film in the franchise is a direct sequel to Ghostbusters 2, which was released more than 30 years ago. Its director, Jason Reitman, is the son of Ivan Reitman, who directed the two original Ghostbusters films. Ahead of the film’s official release on November 19, Polygon got a chance to see the film during its special surprise screening at New York Comic Con, and we have some spoiler-free thoughts on the ghostly new film.

Fair warning, the premise of the movie is explained below, along with the content of the first trailer. But we’re not revealing anything else, and certainly none of the movie’s biggest surprises.

Ghostbusters: Another Life follow callieThe remains‘Carrie Coon) and her sons Trevor (Strange things‘Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), as they move from their city life to a dilapidated farm in the middle of nowhere, which Callie’s estranged father owned and died in. Turns out his father also turned out to be Egon Spengler, the former Ghostbusters originally played by Harold Ramis. The film overall is a poignant tribute to Ramis, the co-writer and co-star of the original films, who passed away in 2014.

Inside the house, Egon apparently left hundreds of tools, gadgets, and ghostbuster paraphernalia for Phoebe and Trevor to discover, and for longtime fans to cheer on. These nostalgic moments are strewn all over the place, and the references are mostly harmless fan services, even if it occasionally seems like the camera lingers too long on a props or two from the original film. The only real exception is a cloying moment near the end of the movie that sends her hurtling down the cliff of nostalgia and soured the whole experience a bit.

Mckenna Grace in the gunner seat of the Ghostbusters car in Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Image: Columbia Pictures

Unlike other late sequels, such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Future life Avoid the worst traps of nostalgia by making children your main characters. Trevor and Phoebe don’t idolize the Ghostbusters, they’ve barely heard of them, which leaves the excitement for fans in the theater, rather than forcing it out of the actors on screen.

The most commendable part of Future life may be its structure, and how little it looks like the original Ghostbusters, even though the stories in the movies share more than a few similarities. There is no attempt to form a new Ghostbusters team or to bring back the magic and chemistry of the original stars. Instead, Reitman focuses on building strong characters, something he excelled at in his previous films, such as In the air and Juno – and bring them to the world of Ghostbusters. More than a work of pure reinvention, Future life it feels more like an expansion of the universe and the boundaries that define what a Ghostbusters movie can be. This movie says that a Ghostbusters story can be about kids finding where they fit in the world, as much as Bill Murray flirting with Sigourney Weaver after she became the herald of a Sumerian god.

Those kids are really the stars of this show. Instead of a witty one-line comedy like the first two movies, Ghostbusters: Another Life it’s more like an Amblin Entertainment movie, full of teenage adventures and a few jokes along the way. There are dramatic scenes in which children get into trouble and discover their first crushes and their first friends. Adults like Paul Rudd, who plays a science teacher named Gary Gruberson, show up to offer kids help, or at least a fun exhibit.

Paul Rudd in Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Image: Columbia Pictures

The performances of the young actors in the film are mostly winners, but the two standouts are Mckenna Grace’s Phoebe and her first friend, who calls himself a Podcast because he’s the host of one. The podcast is played by newcomer Logan Kim, who is funny, charming, and a scene stealer by nature. But while Kim provides most of the best jokes in the movie, Grace handles just about everything else. If this movie rests on the shoulders of any character, it’s Phoebe, who is socially awkward, a little weird, and wildly intelligent – exactly what Ghostbusters fans would expect from Egon’s granddaughter.

Grace is outstanding on paper and echoes Ramis without even mimicking him, making the character uniquely her own. She even has to match Carrie Coon in the movie’s most dramatic scenes and Rudd in the most comedic scenes, and she’s excellent in each one. Grace has already been great in some movies, including the younger version of half the blonde actresses in Hollywood in recent years, but in Ghostbusters: Another Life, you may have finally found your star role.

Mckenna Grace with a proton pack in Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Image: Columbia Pictures

Even with its emphasis on its new young characters, Ghostbusters: Another Life it’s still full of references, inside jokes, and reverence for the series’ original films. There are dozens of little moments that will have Ghostbusters fans cheering, and they certainly cheered at Comic Con. But what’s most exciting about the movie is what it looks like welcoming a new generation of kids to the world of Ghostbusters, both on and off screen. With Future lifeIn the never-ending series of callbacks, Jason Reitman fondly pays tribute to his father’s series, but the new characters are where Jason’s intimate and personal style in film making shines. Therefore, it seems appropriate that Ghostbusters: Another Life it’s best when it comes to young characters finding their place in the pop culture landscape that their predecessors built.

Ghostbusters: Another Life debuts in theaters on November 19.

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