Ghostbusters: Afterlife Carries Spirit of the Franchise

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Ghostbusters: Afterlife Bluray

It's the sequel fans waited three decades to see, but in the end Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the torch-passing movie that holds up to the expectations set by Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2. 

While everything about Ghostbusters: Afterlife has the flavor of the originals, there are some story elements that make this ride less-than-smooth. Don't worry, we'll get to those, soon enough.

Callie Spengler (Carrie Coon) is a single mom struggling -- and failing -- to make ends meet. As a last-ditch resort, she moves with her two kids to a farmhouse left to her by her father, who deserted her when she was very young, hoping to turn the property into a quick sale. Sadly, the farm is rundown and worthless, without even a crop to harvest. The former resident, original Ghostbuster Egon Spengler, had a reputation in town as the crazy "dirt farmer," for always digging in the ground but never planting anything -- oh, and for leaving painted wooden signs around the property warning of the End Times.

The children, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (McKenna Grace) struggle to fit in at their new small-town summer school classes, where Trevor instantly falls hard for Lucky (Celeste O'Connor) while the bookish Phoebe gets acquainted with the social pariah "Podcast" (Logan Kim), named because he produces a podcast to which nobody listens. (I feel your pain, Podcast.) Pheobe's teacher is Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd, Antman), a seismologist who tosses in horror movies for the class to watch while he pursues his investigation into the earthquakes that have been plaguing the surrounding area. But it's through exploration of the farm's outbuildings and bizarre structures that Phoebe discovers her grandfather's legacy -- and the unfinished mission he had set out upon to save the world from the return of Gozer the Gozerian.

When this film hits the right beats, it hits them well. The Easter eggs peppered throughout the film, the look and feel of the props used, the use of archive footage from the first films, all serve to make this chapter feel like it belongs. And, yes, the surviving members of the film all put in their appearances in a stand-and-cheer moment.

But it does have it's stumbling moments. Phoebe outright declares that she has no belief in the supernatural; and yet as soon as obviously ghostly directions guide her to find her grandfather's research, she doesn't bat an eye or in any way try to rationalize the phenomenon. Later, we're told that the original fire station headquarters had been converted to a Starbucks -- and yet in the first post-credits scene, Winston (Ernie Hudson) is standing inside it bringing the old Ecto-1 in for an overhaul. This is also the scene where fans are given the hope that yet another sequel may be in the works, as the containment center underneath the structure has the red light on. ("If the light is green, the trap is clean.")

Now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a worthy addition to your Ghostbusters library, containing several bonus features that take you behind the scenes of how the film came together, including a guided tour to the many Easter eggs hidden in the back of certain scenes. It's a touching tribute to Harold Ramis, who makes an ethereal cameo at a pivotal moment, and should have every fan sitting down this weekend for an at-home binge.

Watch Ghostbusters: Afterlife on any of these streaming services:

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0