Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) – Movie Review

Where was Grooberson when I was in school?
The only things we ever got to watch were
Bill Nye and School House Rock.
Hey everybody, welcome to Mainely Movies.
Today I’m gonna be talking about the 201
supernatural comedy sequel: Ghostbusters:
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Ghostbusters: Afterlife stars McKenna Grace,
Finn Wolfhard, and Logan Kim and was directed
by Jason Reitman.
Set three decades after the events of Ghostbusters
II, it tells the story of two kids who move
to rural Oklahoma only to discover a surprising
family legacy and an equally surprising supernatural
It’s crazy to think how long we’ve been
waiting for this film.
We got that first trailer almost two years
ago and this film was slated for release last
Obviously, like just about every other major
2020 film, this movie saw several delays and
pushbacks before finally settling into this
November slot.
A year and a half is a long time

to wait,
but we’ve actually been waiting quite a
bit longer than that.
Because iterations of this film – this third
movie in the franchise timeline – have been
in various stages of development for decades.
The story had been written, scrapped, and
rewritten numerous times over the last thirty
or so years, but a Ghostbusters III had been
on the minds of the Ghostbusters creative
team and fans for a long time.
We got the cameo-laden reboot five years ago,
but this is the first sequential franchise
follow up we’ve gotten since 1989.
There’s zero doubt that Ghostbusters: Afterlife
is a true sequel.
It references and continues the story and
world previously established in the franchise;
mostly Ghostbusters I, but there are a few
references to Ghostbusters II as well.
But in its sequelhood, this film is a very
interesting cross between a delayed revival
and a rehash.
On one hand, it truly tries to create some
distance between itself and the original film.
This is a very teen-centric story.
Not necessarily directly aimed at that age
bracket, but the majority of the story focus
is on a group of teens and preteens, essentially
acting as a new generation taking up the Ghostbusters
So, there’s some character and story distance
just from that, but there’s also physical
distance too: this is the first Ghostbusters
movie not set in New York City, instead transplanting
things to rural Oklahoma.
All this probably sounds like a new revival,
but there’s a lot of story repetition that
pulls it into rehash territory.
Nothing will ever rival Ghostbusters II in
this regard but suffice it to say that this
is The Force Awakens of the Ghostbusters franchise.
Much of the rehash and repetition rears its
supernatural head in the second half of the
film, but before that, we’re presented with
a slow-revealing mystery of sorts.
In fact, you could argue that it’s actually
a little too slow to start.
I didn’t mind it, but it takes its time
to kind of tease the audience for a while
before really diving into Ghostbusters stuff,
so I can see how that could be frustrating
for some people.
During this time though, it takes the opportunity
to really introduce us to the new main characters.
Like I said before, this is a very teen-centric
story, so most of these characters are young.
And I have to say, when most of them were
first introduced, I was a little hesitant
because most of them very easily could’ve
fallen into that “annoying kid” category.
You know, where their dialogue comes across
as annoyingly precocious and the humor’s
Phoebe was the only positive standout to me
at first, but I was very pleasantly surprised
to find that I actually grew to like all of
the kid characters.
None of them ever felt like too much and they
were all reasonably competent, given the crazy
supernatural scenario.
A new installment in a franchise coming out
37 years after the original was obviously
going to lean on and draw upon that first
film’s popularity.
And Ghostbusters: Afterlife certainly provides
a heavy dose of nostalgia.
It is a sequel, so the references and callbacks
do often have an actual story purpose, but
it does have its fair share of straight-up
fanservice too.
But, for the most part, I’d say that the
nostalgia here is earned and tastefully done,
evoking the original film rather than using
it as a crutch.
Seeing the Ghostbusters gear back in action
was a treat.
It was kind of fun in Ghostbusters 2016 too,
but this is the original gear – at least in
the story continuity.
So, everything has this grimy, aged, well-used
quality to it: the EMF meters, the proton
packs, even the good old Ectomobile.
We even get a few fun new additions and alterations
like the gunner seat they showed in the trailer.
The nostalgia doesn’t stop there though
– just about every iconic Ghostbusters thing
gets a reference here from the characters,
to the theme song, right down to everybody’s
favorite marshmallow monster.
For the most part, this nostalgia ride is
well-done, never going so far that it’s
obnoxiously in your face.
But we do hit a bit of a conundrum with that
when we get to the especially rehashy portions
of the story.
There is a reason for the repetition built
right into the plot, but it still comes across
as a little lazy.
I won’t spoil any of the specifics here,
but we have some things that are directly
transposed from Ghostbusters I to this film.
It works because of the nostalgia, but it
hits a point where you’re going to be able
to predict exactly what’s going to happen
for the remainder of the film.
That doesn’t take away from the enjoyment,
but it does feel like a bit of a betrayal
of the new generation, new direction vibe
that the film began with.
In spite of the blatant franchise self-plagiarism,
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is able to deliver
a lovingly-crafted, nostalgia-infused sequel
that manages to be a continuation, revival,
and tribute all at once.
Alright, let’s talk about the pros and cons.
Pro number one has gotta be the nostalgia.
There is a dark side to this that I’ll address
in the cons, but for the most part, I thought
this film made great use of its harnessed
Ghostbusters is one of those iconic franchises.
It’s full of images and sounds that are
instantly recognizable around the world – even
to people who’ve never seen any of the films.
So, you can’t blame them for leaning into
that nostalgia here.
Of course we were gonna get the theme song,
of course we would see the Ectomobile careening
around street corners.
Of course we would get the iconic cameos.
But none of those things are done for the
sole purpose of fansservice – they all have
a story purpose that draws a legitimate connection
between this film and its predecessors.
The second pro is Phoebe.
Honestly, all the characters were decent and
I was especially surprised by how solid all
of the kid characters ended up being.
But, Phoebe was the stand out for me.
She’s arguably our main character here and
the one that drives the plot and undergoes
the most significant character arc.
She’s a very quirky character and there’s
a lot of humor derived from that, but it isn’t
exclusively a source of comedy.
This film as a whole is a surprisingly heartfelt
and emotional story, so we get to watch Phoebe’s
journey of self-discovery and her realization
that she’s not necessarily the family and
social outcast that she thought she was.
On the con side, the biggest issue is the
overreliance on franchise repetition.
In other words: the rehashed elements of the
Now, even though this is in the cons, it isn’t
something that I hated – it just felt a little
The script is crafted in a way that provides
a logical explanation for the repetition (or
at least logical in Ghostbusters world), but
I can’t help but feel like a new threat
would’ve been far more interesting.
It wouldn’t have packed the same nostalgic
punch and maybe the third act emotions would’ve
hit differently, but at least it would’ve
felt fresh.
Before I give you my rating and recommendations,
I want to remind you that if you’re interested
in buying Ghostbusters: Afterlife or any of
the films I mentioned today, I do have affiliate
links for all of them in the description below.
I get a small commission from anything you
buy using one of my links, so I’d really appreciate
if you’d use them if you’re in the market
for any of these movies.
I’m gonna give Ghostbusters: Afterlife 3.5
out of 5 paws.
This movie is a pleasantly fun return to form.
It leans heavily into nostalgia – perhaps
a little too heavily when it comes to certain
plot elements – but it still manages to mix
enough things up.
We get a new spin and perspective, but it’s
the same old Ghostbusters underneath.
I would recommend Ghostbusters: Afterlife
to fans of the Ghostbusters franchise, especially
to people who really enjoy Ghostbusters I.
There are a lot of callbacks and references
which provide nostalgia-fueled fun.
But it also delivers a reasonable story continuation
that merges old and new to revive the franchise…
and pack a much bigger emotional punch than
If you liked Ghostbusters: Afterlife, I’ve
obviously gotta recommend Ghostbusters.
If you’re watching Afterlife, you’re probably
already very familiar with the original film,
but if not, what are you waiting for?
It’s the film that started it all and provides
a major source of story and tonal inspiration
for the sequel.
If you enjoyed the balance of sequel, revival,
and rehash here, you might want to check out
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.
It too offers a new story and new characters
within a long-running franchise, while not
being able to resist falling back on cameos
and major plot retreads of the original film.
And if you like the teen-centric story and
tone of this film, you might want to watch
That’s a bit more of a spooky Christmas
movie than this, but you’ll be able to spot
some obvious overlap, especially when it comes
to a horde of small, mischievous creatures.
Alright, a couple questions for you guys.
Number one: Have you seen Ghostbusters: Afterlife?
If so, what’d you think of it?
And number two: Which is better?
One giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man or hundreds
of mini Stay Puft Marshmallow Men?
Be sure to leave your answers in the comments
below so we can get a discussion going.
Alright, so if you got some enjoyment, insight,
or information out of this review, I’d appreciate
it if you’d hit that like button.
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Till next time, this has been Alyssa with
Mainely Movies: The way life should be.

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