Who ya gonna call…?

gbafterlifeGhostbusters: Afterlife, 2021, 124 mins, Digital

I was never a huge Ghostbusters fan. I always seemed rather immune to its charms, considering how popular it was back in 1984/1985 when it originally came out: it was one of those films that seemed to enter the cultural consciousness but whose charms quite escaped me. Maybe it was that pop song in the charts, or all that darn merchandise, it was clearly more than just a movie- and yet was it even that good a movie in the first place? Well, if that was the case time would tell, as it inevitably does. Films get Found Out.

Or at least I’d like to think so.

So here we are decades later,. and we’ve had some pretty fine belated sequels, notably Blade Runner 2049 and Doctor Sleep (and, apparently, Top Gun: Maverick if early word is to be believed). These are films that aren’t remakes or reboots but rather continuations that in some way expand upon their originals: ideally offering something new whilst not alienating fans of the originals, which isn’t a bad trick after so many years have gone by. I think one can add Ghostbusters: Afterlife to that list, as its a pretty good film, carrying the mood and sensibilities of the original film whilst offering something new. I loved the 1980s vibe, from the music score that sounded like 1980s-era John Williams music (by Rob Simonsen, a name I’m not familiar with, and yep, I know John Williams didn’t score the original) and its young cast that reminds one of The Goonies, E.T. and more recently Stranger Things, to how the visual effects cleverly looked like something belonging to the 1980s. I really quite enjoyed it- indeed more than I did the original film back when that came out. What odd sorcery is this?

I mean, after all, as no great fan of the original, the inevitable fan-service was largely wasted on me, even when I recognised it (I’m sure several instances passed me by). Not that fan-service is a bad thing. I appreciate, after all, all the nods in BR:2049 to the original 1982 film- that’s just a sign of film-makers doing their research, and having respect for the original source. I recently had the misfortune to have watched the second season of Star Trek: Picard, and that proved so disrespectful to Star Trek (both the 1960s original show and the 1980s Next Generation), breaking both franchise continuity and genre conventions with utterly mystifying, and ultimately contemptable abandon that I would rate it as likely the worst genre tv show I have ever seen. Seeing it done so badly in that case, makes one appreciate all the more when it is done well.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife isn’t perfect. Its first half is much better than the second half in which the film largely suffers from the same issues as the original film did, with a ‘grand’ climax that never worked in the original mirrored almost exactly in this sequel, albeit this one has an emotional pay-off lacking in the original that favours this edition no end. But on the whole it feels like how a Ghostbusters film should, and maybe that’s the most important thing about it. It leaves us definitely suggesting a positive path for further films to take, and it leaves me actually interested in them.

3 thoughts on “Who ya gonna call…?

  1. Matthew McKinnon

    Yeah… it’s fine, isn’t it?
    I was a fan of the original, though that’s cooled over the years. It was never a formative movie for me, but I was 13 when it came out, so it hit the right spots for me then. I never regarded it as anything more than a really fun comedy.

    I was prepared to hate this as it seemed utterly unnecessary, and to be honest I’m a bit sick of Ghostbusters being a thing since the unfortunate and ugly events of a few years ago.

    But it’s OK – it’s a pretty good, polished nostalgia movie: Amblin Does Ghostbusters. I’d go so far as to say it’s actually a lot better than a lot of the original Amblins [Batteries Not Included & Goonies, I’m looking at you]. A very pleasant and undemanding two hours.

    1. Yeah, similar to -for obvious reasons- but much better than, The Goonies especially, a film I finally caught up with a few years back and thoroughly disappointed me, considering all the acclaim it seemed to get. Every time I watch one of these sequels for old movies that seem to nail the nostalgia and quality buttons, I rue the fact that, for me, Disney failed to do same with Star Wars. I know its not an easy thing to do, and for every BR2049 you’ve got, well, a few Star Trek: Discovery or Star Trek: Picard travesties etc but all the same, when it works, it works so well… I suppose they will keep trying re: Star Wars, God Knows there’s a long list of TV stuff in the works.

  2. Pingback: Murder of a franchise – the ghost of 82

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