As 2020 draws to a close, it’s not hard to look back at the many movies pushed ahead, be it the “Black Widow” movie or the ninth “Fast and the Furious” film. But lately, I’ve been thinking about was “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.” From Jason Reitman, son of “Ghostbusters” director Ivan Reitman, the movie seemed to be interesting for what initially appeared to be inspired by the promo shots for “Stranger Things” Season Two. And the more I thought about the Ghostbusters series, I realized that I haven’t seen the all-female reboot from 2016 that depending on who you ask is either the worst indoctrination of feminism into a beloved franchise or just an okay movie. So, were the man children throwing a fit over nothing?
Kristen Wiig plays Erin Gilbert, a professor at Columbia University who’s close to tenure. One day, a man comes to her about the possible appearance of a ghost and cites a book she wrote with estranged friend, Abby (Melissa McCarthy). Worried it will affect her career, Erin tracks Abby down at a technical college and investigates the potential paranormal phenomenon with her old friend and her assistant, Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon). After a video of her spotting a ghost goes viral and she gets fired, the girls make shop atop a Chinese restaurant and hire Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), a dumb aspiring actor, as their secretary. With the help of MTA worker Patty (Leslie Jones), they don the beige jumpsuits and take up the recognizable gear to take on occultist Rowan North (Neil Casey).
Like the original movie, one of the strengths is the cast. Each of the actresses play off of each other brilliantly; Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy have a friendly banter akin to Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd/Harold Ramis, with McCarthy’s enthusiasm playing off with Wiig’s pragmatism. Leslie Jones is a fun outsider who helps out with providing Ecto-1 and the indirect introduction to the iconic logo. While a part of me wishes Jones’ character had a little background in science, I can understand her role as the Winston stand in-the outsider who joins in the team. But when it comes to the Ghostbusters performances, Kate McKinnon steals the show; every scene with her is a joy to watch and seems like she’s having fun and bringing a more anarchic energy that rivals Bill Murray’s performance. Chris Hemsworth’s performance as the secretary that gives off massive himbo energy has its moments, but there are moments where his stupidity left me sighing. The joke, having Thor play a secretary for the female gaze, works, but it kinda sags in his scenes in the middle.
As reboots go, the story is pretty solid. Many of the modern translations work and they got a chuckle out of me. Seeing the cameos from actors like Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Annie Potts, Sigourney Weaver, and Ernie Hudson were fun. Simultaneously, the equipment, effects, and action scenes helped to give the movie its own identity. These aren’t your parents’ Ghostbusters; these ones are hip. They have new equipment, a viral presence, and a personality that shines outside of their predecessors. And I am so glad they didn’t make this a passing of the torch movie.
I went into this movie thinking it would be okay; but I was surprised at how good it was. And while I have nothing against the Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters movie, I feel like Paul Feig made a movie more in the spirit of the original than the son of the original director. “Afterlife” feels slow, gothic, and too bound in reality. This movie however, has the same spirit Ivan Reitman had; It’s fun, entertaining, and complimented with a stellar cast.