Ghostbusters: Afterlife finally arrives in theaters nearly a year and a half after its intended release, but clearly the creative team didn’t use any of the time afforded by multiple Covid delays to fix its many, many missteps — delivering a truly terrible movie that will turn off moviegoers regardless of any affinity they may have to the franchises other incarnations.
Lest you are mistaken that this movie is bad for a genre film, bad for a comedy film, bad for a Ghostbusters movie — yes, those are all true — understand that the first 90 minutes of this film are a masterclass in making a lifeless, dull, head-shaking film regardless of any qualifiers.
A mix of a reboot and a sequel to the original movies from the 80s, Ghostbusters: Afterlife finds a new generation of characters (two the grandchildren of a character from the first and second films) whose lives are uprooted by the death of a grandfather they never knew. Placed in a ghost-town somewhere in Oklahoma, they slowly discover their legacy and must race to stop the villain from the original Ghostbusters from returning.
The film begins with a well-shot sequence that’s evocative of 80s Spielberg adventure films, but after the cold open, the film’s poorly executed plot springs forth and the movie goes so far off the rails it’s almost laughable. Nothing happens for 75% of the movie. Characters encounter ghosts repeatedly, have virtually no reaction or surprise at this, then continue going about the shabby motions the narrative puts them through.
The final fifteen minutes of the film are almost wondrous, delivering on the hinted cameos and return of former cast members, and rife with spectacle you’d expect from a Ghostbusters movie. But this can’t save the mind-numbing boredom that’s led us to this point.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a boring, lifeless, thinly written, and shameless cash grab and exercise in IP recycling, wasting what should have been a glorious moment reuniting the stars of one of the most beloved comedies of all time. It’s a slog, wasting not just the iconic original cast — here in glorified cameos that try and fail to pull on nostalgic heartstrings — but also a collection of modern stars and its up-and-coming teen stars of tomorrow.
J.K. Simmons and Olivia Wilde appear in the movie, in what can only be called “get that paycheck” roles, joining reigning Sexiest Man Alive Paul Rudd, in what is assuredly the worst film he’s ever starred in — and cult sensation Carrie Coon in a role so far beneath her it’s infuriating. Makenna Grace does some heavy lifting here, and while she adds another item to a resume that points to a future breakthrough, all she does here is secure a future “Did you know she was in…?” trivia item.
This latest installment in a once venerated franchise puts what is almost assuredly the final nail in the coffin that is Ghostbusters. The movie has two end-credits scenes which are pure fan service — as if there are any fans left after sitting through this turd. And while a small moment in the film threatens us with future installments, we can only hope that there’s no Afterlife for Ghostbusters beyond this.