REVIEW: Ghostbusters Afterlife
After credit scenes: 2, one mid-credits and one post-credits.
If you are a fan of the original Ghostbusters movies AND Stranger Things, this is a movie you're going to love. If you loved the original but don't care for Stranger Things, I still recommend it because the movie has a lot of heart and expands the lore of the first two movies. All while opening the door to a future for the franchise.
The story centers on the kids, not the adults. Typically, I find franchises that were originally geared towards an adult audience suddenly make a left turn and focus on 12 and 15 year old kids doing what grown-up have done previously cringy. Case in point: 8 year old Anakin in The Phantom Menace.
However, it works here. Part of this is because Finn Wolfhard's crossover from Stranger Things and It already had me primed to accept him fighting the supernatural. Mckenna Grace also sells Egon's intellectual heir, Phoebe Spengler.
Paul Rudd's teacher character was not what I expected from the trailers. I thought he was going to be a clean-cut, every student's favorite teacher type. What we got was not that; a good guy. But maybe a little reckless and teaching is not his passion. Anything more, and I'll be getting into spoiler territory.
The rest of the cast is fantastic; but again to delve into them gets into spoiler territory.
The story has strong Lovecraftian/Cosmic Horror beats without being overly obtuse. A re-watch of the original is recommended; Ghostbusters II isn't necessary to re-watch but it may help identify some Easter Eggs. And this deepening of the lore is what kept Morticia and I glued to our seats despite full bladders. You wanted to see what happens next and maybe learn a little more about what happened between now and the 1980s. (It even throws some love the way of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon in upgrades to Ecto 1.)
This is where the movie really shines. It stays true to Dan Akroyd's intent when he started writing the first movie in 1981. He wanted to write a paranormal adventure film which also reimagined the classic ghost comedies of the mid-century by the likes of Abbott and Costello. Harold Ramis joined him to create a classic that redefined the genre for a new generation of movie goers.
It's also worth mentioning Akroyd grew-up believing in the paranormal. His grandfather would perform seances and his father authored the book A History of Ghosts (Amazon or Barnes & Noble). So while classified as a comedy, Ghostbusters was written to also be taken seriously.
Which is why Sony's earlier reboot of the franchise failed. Ghostbusters: Answer the Call was not written to continue the story but as a satire of it. Imagine if Spaceballs had been written as a Star Wars reboot. While Kate McKinnon did some truly inspired comedic work in the movie; it wasn't enough to overcome the weakness that was Paul Feig's treatment of the source material set in an alternate universe.
This is clearly Ghostbusters III and weaves a tale rooted not only in lore; but a tear-jerking analysis of family. Highly recommend.