‘Ghostbusters – Afterlife’ hit cinema screens this week in the midst of an industry seeping with nostalgia towards the 1980’s … and rightly so. The decade turned cinema on its head with an advancement in what was possible in film, with ever changing technology and innovative and experimental special effects. Pre mass use of CGI, the decade’s films have a feel and style all of their own, and one of the eras biggest hits featured the unique tale of New York City being over run with the supernatural, and the team of unlikely hero’s who band together to save humanity.
The first Ghostbusters film hit the big screen in 1984 and instantly became a worldwide phenomenon, with an all star cast including Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis. Ghostbusters was slick, funny, totally original for the time, and a film that remains enjoyable on repeat views, providing happy memories for many who have grown up over the last 35 years.
The franchise has become synonymous of the time, with successful movie tie ins in the form of a vast range of toys & other merchandise, an instantly recognisable hit theme tune from Ray Parker Jr, as well as a long running childrens cartoon series.
The boys bounced back as Ghostbusters 2 arrived in 1989 with New York once again becoming over run with slimey ghouls. A largely enjoyable sequel featuring a soundtrack littered with mainstream rap hits, the film however lacking the originality of the first movie, was considered as somewhat of a cash in with a questionable script by many, and found itself competing at the end of the decade, within a new age of cinema where ‘Blockbuster’ releases rained down on a regular basis. It appeared that Hollywood decided enough was enough for the time being, and rather than starting to saturate the franchise with sequel after sequel, this looked to be the final Ghostbusters film.
Over the proceeding years, the original film started to become something of a cult classic, widely thought of as one of the most beloved movies of the era. Watching back the film holds its own within the Sci Fi / Horror / Comedy genre, that was ripe with numerous contemporaries such as Gremlins, Beetlejuice and the many classic films of Stephen Spielberg.
Although talks of a further movie were ever present throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s, with many scripts and projects floating around Hollywood, a 3rd film was never quite able to get off the ground … until in 2016 we were served up a fresh take with ‘Ghostbusters – Answer the Call’.
The film presented a whole new female lead cast featuring Melissa McCarthy & Kristen Wiig (both from Bridesmaids) and Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live) in a modern twist on essentially the same theme. The quick witted comic interactions between the main cast from the earlier films are kept in tact, as are the cooky supporting characters inc Chris Hemsworth (Marvel’s Thor) in a comic turn as the new teams dumb receptionist.
The film completely disregards the earlier films storyline, as the knowledge of the existence of ghosts or the Ghostbusters is completely erased. However the film is littered with homage to the past, including cameos and numerous easter egg tributes. The movie generally not thought well of by critics on its release, is undoubtedly fast paced and bags of fun. And in featuring the kind of improvement in special effects two decades provides (with a look and feel akin to the ‘Men in Black’ films), showcases a blockbuster end sequence clearly influenced by the likes of ‘Transformers’ and ‘Marvels : Avengers’ series.
Proving to be a financial success grossing the best part of $100m profit on the studios estimated $125m spend, the film showed there was new life in the much loved franchise. But many fans were left wondering where the original stars and characters were.
‘Ghostbusters – Afterlife’ appears to be have been made to answer that question, while the majority of the main cast (minus Harold Ramis RIP) are still available to provide a fan friendly nostalgic follow up to the original film. Written by Jason Reitman (son of original director Ivan) & Gill Kennan, (Dan Akroyd and the late Mr Ramis are also credited), ‘Afterlife’ is miles apart form ‘Take the Call’ in terms of style and tone. Gone is the slapstick comedy for a far subtler approach, although the film is certainly not without its laugh out loud moments.
Underlying, the film is a character study of a dysfunctional family, with the story being centralised around two teenage brother and sister characters played by McKenna Grace (The Handmaids Tale) and Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things). They move with their mother into the inherited home of their recently deceased grandfather Egon Spengler, who had isolated himself from his former Ghostbuster compadres, and his family, to live a mysterious life of solitude in a remote farmhouse in small town mid west America.
Somewhat of a slow burner to begin with as the family adjust to their new life, meeting various townsfolk and experiencing strange goings on (that start to escalate form the get go), the movie eventually plays out to a fast paced and dramatic finale, which is linked entirely to the story in the original film. Returning is a plot featuring Gozer the Destroyer, her Gatekeeper and Key Master and Stay Puffed Marshmallow Men, along with the returning original cast (with Bill Murray looking every one of his 70 years and a ghostly CGI version of Harold Ramis), creating a companion piece that pays tribute in a wonderfully sentimental way, which in the main should appease fans that grew up with the story, while reintroducing the tale in a fresh new contemporary way for the modern audience.
With the teenagers taking the leading roles, and the 80’s feel turned up to 11, the movie very much invokes a feel similar to The Goonies, Lost Boys, Stephen King’s It and Netflix’s Stranger Things (it’s own tribute to the era), and for any one that enjoys those, this movie will tick a lot of boxes. Somewhat of a standout and unique film in the franchise so far, this is definitely worth a trip to your local cinema while still available.
Catch the official trailer here :
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