'Ghostbusters: Afterlife' Successfully Resurrects the Franchise Directed by Jason Reitman

Starring Mckenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Logan Kim, Celeste O'Connor
'Ghostbusters: Afterlife' Successfully Resurrects the Franchise Directed by Jason Reitman
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As a shamelessly pandering retread of a played-out franchise, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is about as good as it possibly could have been. Combining the supernatural nostalgia of Super 8 and Stranger Things with the fanservice of Jurassic World and The Force Awakens, the film doesn't remotely attempt to do anything new. It blatantly lives in the shadow of the prior films in the series — and yet it still hits all the right beats, bringing modern visuals and a compelling cast to its familiar story.

Afterlife passes Ghostbusters on to the next generation — quite literally, as Jason Reitman takes over directorial duties from his dad, Ivan. The plot follows Callie (Carrie Coon), daughter of original Ghostbuster Egon Spengler, who moves into her dad's dilapidated farmhouse after she's evicted from her apartment along with her kids Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard). Naturally, they find all sorts of spooky stuff in the house, leading the kids to follow in their grandfather's ghostbusting footsteps.

The loveable cast is a big part of what makes the fairly rote story land. Paul Rudd absolutely nails his role as a deadbeat summer school teacher who is a love interest to Callie and a scientific collaborator with Phoebe. Logan Kim is thoroughly charming as a nerdy preteen known simply as "Podcast," and it doesn't spoil too much to say there are some predictable guest appearances.

The special effects are obviously much upgraded from the original films. A couple of the ghosts evoke the cartoonish silliness of its predecessors — the Slimer-esque Muncher is particularly goofy — but Afterlife actually achieves some half-decent scares. It's not horror by any stretch, but it's a little spookier than expected.

As the film builds towards a ghost-fighting finale full of familiar baddies, repetitive sets and inevitable cameos, it loses a little of its spark. Without any ghosts at all, this might have been a pretty decent movie about a family moving to a new town. As it is, it's got just enough heart to bring Ghostbusters back to life without feeling too cynical. (Sony)