*Caution: This article has spoilers for Ghostbusters: Afterlife.*
When it comes down to what we love, it’s always something about who you were. Trailer Park Boys isn’t revolutionary television (although for mockumentary filmmaking it’s leagues better than The Office), but I love it because I always remember watching it using Netflix on the Wii. Pokemon X is not the best in the video game series, but it’s my favorite because I spent hours and hours trying to collect every different Pokemon type. What was the last form of entertainment you experienced that you loved because it was good, not because it reminded you of a time before?
The year is 2015 and the phrase “Soft-Reboot” is becoming more and more a part of the modern moviegoer’s terminology. Films like Terminator: Genysis, Mad Max: Fury Road, Creed, Jurassic World, and my old nemesis Star Wars: The Force Awakens would help define this new term. You could technically say 2009’s Star Trek was the first “big” Soft-Reboot, but also not really so let’s just forget about it for the sake of discussion.
Writing a movie is really hard, writing a good one is even harder. “So, why should we?” Said an executive somewhere in the endless gutter of Hollywood. See, someone realized that it’s much easier to add small changes to what you know people already love than to create something entirely new. Sometimes this can be done right, of the films mentioned before I think Jurassic World is the best example of this because it’s objective to this idea, and incorporates it into the genetically manufactured script. While the idea of dinosaurs in a park has been done before, what they do with it is different enough to not feel exactly the same.
It’s only been barely 6 years since this idea came to Hollywood, and people seem to keep eating it up time, and time again. It’s ironic because for a franchise about stopping spirits of the past, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a ghost of the series it originates.
Immediately leaving the theater, and honestly, throughout my viewing, I felt incredibly conflicted. I can’t say I love the 1984 original as much as others, but I do still like it. I would agree in saying that film was nearly lightning in a bottle, the whole film is a joke and you will either find that funny or you won’t. There is no middle ground.
Is Afterlife terrible? No. Nor is it good, though. It’s okay. Yeah, um, very okay.
The internet’s reaction to the film has proven yet again something I think most respectable people know, but no one wants to admit. So, if no one else will do it, here it is. Today’s mass audiences are so stupid. No, like, seriously. Do you want to know why the highest-grossing films of the past years have been superhero blockbusters? Because they’re made for children. We’re told so much how to think from the news and social media, that it’s easier to watch the same 3 act structure on repeat with different actors rather than experience something different.
Again, I don’t think Afterlife is as bad as Godzilla vs. Kong, or The Rise of Skywalker. On the other hand, If I had to describe my thoughts on it in one sentence, it would be that the film is on the same level as something like Jurassic Park 3. It’s fun, but not much else.
To start, for around 40 minutes nothing happens. The film thinks that spending time with new characters is the same as developing them. You could spend 40 minutes on one shot of someone like Rey from Force Awakens sitting in the desert saying nothing but that doesn’t tell me anything about her. It feels the same way here. The characters are flat; I can’t remember any new character’s name.
The story exists only because the script says so. Let’s go back to Jurassic World for a second. That’s a film where the plot makes absolutely no sense. There is no way anyone could have made a functional dinosaur theme park after the events of the original, it just wouldn’t happen. The script understands this and ties it into the story and its themes. Things like having Claire say, “Verizon Wireless presents the Indominus Rex,” are the screenwriting saying, “Listen, this idea is stupid, but we’re trying to tell a story about how greed blinds people and the power manipulation has on our modern society, so try to stay with us.”
There is no moment in Afterlife where the characters sit down and say, “Wait, are we about to fight ghosts in an age where anyone can be brought back through the power of special effects?” Okay, maybe not that exactly but you get what I’m saying. The movie takes itself far too seriously, and each character only exists to be led to show something from the first movie so people can feel nostalgia.
Oh, and apparently Egon is now crazy? The plot needs an excuse to have Egon still be part of the plot, so they just kill him off in the opening scene and have everyone think he’s crazy. It makes no sense, and because the film thinks it’s this epic, and poetic moment in history, it forgot it’s a follow-up to a comedy where Bill Murray just wants to sleep with Sigourney Weaver.
Did Afterlife need to exist? Not really. The original Ghostbusters show up exactly how you think they do, and it doesn’t even make any sense within the film’s own rules and story, so it’s not even that fun to see them. I’m not quite sure why anyone put these characters on such a high pedestal, to begin with. At least none of them say their last name is Skywalker so, I guess it works out.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is, at its core, fine. I think that’s the worst part about it, I can’t sit here and go off about how the end of Hollywood is now upon us. No, no, none of that. If I were to grade it, I’d probably lean towards a C+, maybe. I think you’ll be happy if you like this series, I think you should watch it once if you have any interest as you will be entertained, but I don’t imagine anyone will be talking about this in 6 months.
It’s a film clearly made by a fan of the original, but the question is up to you whether or not that’s a good thing. For me? Maybe busting doesn’t make me feel so good anymore…