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Let's talk about Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Let's talk about Ghostbusters: Afterlife



Alright, Shack. I'm going to be honest. I meant to make my post for the week about something else. A new Psych movie came out. I got really excited for it. Couldn't wait to see Shawn and Gus again. Fun times for all! Then I saw something else.


Let's talk about Ghostbusters: Afterlife for a minute. I'm not the hardcore Ghostbusters fanatic that some people are. I've watched maybe two episodes of The Real Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters II aged like milk for me. And I wasn't offended by the mere existence of the 2016 Ghostbusters, I just thought it was bad and forgettable.

Afterlife actually made me mad for a little while and a big part of that is because it teased being something a lot more interesting than it ended up being. For the first hour, it follows the two kids, who are subtly hinted at being the grandchildren of Egon Spengler. I liked the idea of this movie exploring Egon's legacy and what he left behind. I loved following Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), who's the best character in this movie by miles, who channels Egon's personality to a tee. Her discovering her grandfather's work and ultimately wrestling with his complicated legacy, one where he's only remembered as a crazy old dirt farmer who died alone and forgotten (something that, in theory, should outrage the hardcore Ghostbusters fanatics, but that's another argument for another day), was a genuinely interesting idea. If the movie is just Phoebe (and Trevor, to a lesser extent, though he's a far less interesting character than I expected) discovering Egon's work, uncovering the mission that ultimately killed him, and building on what he put together, that could have been a great story.

Instead, an hour in, it becomes an almost note-for-note retread of the original Ghostbusters. Instead of going somewhere new and interesting, it's right back to Gozer and the same beats from the original movie. You can only imagine how much I groaned during the scene where Callie (Carrie Coon) and Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd) did an almost literal re-creation of the original movie's bit with Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis, because we've done this already! Of course, the ultimate "MEMBER THIS?" moment came later with the reintroduction of the old Ghostbusters, including a Bill Murray who very much looked like he did not want to be there. More on him in a bit.

It's not a bad thing to pay homage to the old movie. Heck, when Phoebe confronted Gozer, I entirely expected Gozer to ask her, "Are you a god?" and for her to say "Yes." I thought that would have been a cute reference and could have led to something fun and interesting. Instead, they gave that moment to Ray... again, complete with Venkman and Winston almost winking to the camera. Instead of doing something potentially new, they made a reference for the sake of making a reference. That sucked.

This all leads to what I thought was one of the grossest moments I've seen out of a movie in a while and that's the CG Harold Ramis. I thought this was kind of icky when Star Wars did it in Rogue One, but this one just felt like Hollywood dug up a corpse and made it dance on the big screen. The makers of this movie will call this a tribute, but can anyone really speak for the dead and assume that this is what they would have wanted? I hated the use of the CG Ramis and the "FOR HAROLD" text that popped up right before the end credits felt almost manipulative.

Here's the other thing about the use of the old cast, though. Remember a moment ago when I said that Bill Murray looked like he didn't want to be there and you could see it all over his face? Even half-assing it, he was still better than almost anybody else in this thing. His comic timing and his delivery were a thing of beauty and that he was able to pull this off while putting in a fraction of effort spoke really poorly of the rest of the main cast. By the end, I wondered why they even bothered with a new team at all. Nobody can ever be the Venkman, because there's nobody like Venkman. You can very clearly replicate Egon, as we saw with Phoebe... and that's probably not supposed to be the takeaway, given that this was supposed to be a big tribute to Harold Ramis. But Bill Murray and Venkman are such a critical piece of the Ghostbusters formula that you can't really do a Ghostbusters movie without that character... or without Murray. The 2016 movie found that out the hard way and now we're taking that ride again.

I said this when Harold Ramis died, God rest his soul, but it was time to retire Ghostbusters when he passed and leave the memories alone. If they have to move forward, could they maybe stop with the nostalgia bait and just tell a totally new story already? Can we actually stop with Gozer now and maybe explore some new ghost stories? They have the pieces there now with Phoebe. (Oh, and Trevor, I guess.) So just do it with the sequel already.

On the plus side, that sequel will probably be better than the original's sequel. (Ghostbusters II sucks, you guys.)

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