Ghostbusters: Afterlife crumbles under fan nostalgia

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Ghostbusters: Afterlife aims to breathe new life into the franchise.

Sony

Ghostbusters: Afterlife, in theaters now, is a direct sequel and a shameless ode to the beloved 1984 spooky comedy… and Ghostbusters toys, the Ghostbusters cartoon, and general nostalgia for the good old days. Of course, Afterlife is making efforts to chart a new direction for the Spectrum Detection franchise. But it’s directed by Jason Reitman with contributions from his father Ivan Reitman, director of the original films, and it’s absolutely jam-packed with fan-baiting references to the ’80s originals that pile up until you completely master any spark of originality.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Ghostbusters. I had the lunch box. I bought the comics. I still have a cracked front tooth that I broke face first on a picnic table while chasing “a ghost” when I was 9 years old. So yeah, I got a kick out of some parts of Afterlife. In the opening scenes, for example, if you recognize the PKE counter you will understand the importance of the dread detection gadget that lights up as it detects a certain spectral presence. That moment in Afterlife, which connected the franchise’s goofy ghosts to real death for perhaps the first time, gave me a real thrill.

For starters, Afterlife tries to forge its own identity. By moving the smart urban setting from the original film to nowhere in town, Oklahoma (technically, Summerville, Oklahoma), Afterlife taps into a different vein of horror. The whole point of the New York setting from the original film was the comedic incongruity of the supernatural shenanigans, but Afterlife brings elements of rural horror like a spooky house overlooking a hill, unsettling outbuildings, and spooky cornfields.

Mckenna’s Grace and the Stranger Things star Finn wolfhard are new children in this hamlet on a horse when their mysterious grandfather dies under mysterious circumstances. Grace, the Emmy-nominated star of The Handmaid’s Tale, I Tonya and The Haunting of Hill House, frowns and steals the show as the petite scientist who holds the key to completing Grandpa’s job (this which might involve saving the world).

Netflix hit Stranger Things recycled and remixed ’80s teenage fantasies like Ghostbusters and The Goonies, and now Stranger Things DNA is being fed back into the source material as a team of four tweens, including Wolfhard and a girl. socially awkward but exceptionally capable, supernatural threat tackle in rural America. It’s basically what someone who hasn’t seen Stranger Things probably thinks Stranger Things is.

And the nostalgia party doesn’t just extend to the franchise’s Easter Eggs. The soundtrack is mostly classic soul songs, and Summerville’s social hub is roller hop. Cell phones are dumped in the first 10 minutes, which you think is the usual horror movie release clause, but never makes it into the plot. It seems the filmmakers just wanted to go back to an older era, a sun-dappled childhood that maybe only exists in this kind of big screen fantasy where misfit kids are also ace mechanics flirting with each other. with the others in the creepy old mine on the edge of town.

Among adults, Carrie Coon does not have much to do other than worry about standing several steps behind the children, while a Paul Rudd travels through the film mainly as a spectator. But that’s okay, because the kids are fun to hang out with while they uncover the mysteries of the city (which old-school Busters fans will have already figured out, obviously). The film is most appealing when they sculpt their own personalities and breathe new life into old ideas.

But the more they put themselves in the shoes (and combinations) of the original Ghostbusters, the more old ideas come back. display like a speed race in a props museum. It’s telling that when one of the most beloved original props takes center stage for a great action sequence, it doesn’t lean on what is seen in the original film, but on the toy based on the cartoon based on the film.

Afterlife is desperate to be a tribute to the original, but it’s really fueled by the silted layers of commercialized nostalgia obscuring the utterly brilliant basic idea of ​​a gang of nerd zapping monsters.

Time and countless fallout (and the 2016 all-female versionspiral of death in Culture War) enshrined the franchise with a weight and holiness that seems quite odd when you really watch the originals. Ghostbusters ’84 was an irreverent and steamy spin-off of Saturday Night Live, not a deep meditation on life and loss. So by the time you get to the heavily sentimental, horribly derivative, and reverent ending of Afterlife, it’s hard to believe that this is the same series that threw a gag on Dan Aykroyd blows himself up by a poltergeist.

One last quick question: have you ever seen these truly whimsical toy statues? You know, the ones with realistic sculpted heads and 20 different ones tiny, screen-accurate accessories? The ones that come in a hand-numbered box and cost a hundred dollars? The care, attention, and respect that goes to these Ghostbusters collectibles makes them absolutely true to the movies, but the precise details and dead-eyed replicas have nothing to do with spirit, life, and soul. spark of real people, real things that made you love these wacky Ghostbusters in the first place. As Afterlife’s cynical finale turns into an inevitable (and frankly bizarre) post-credits scene, it feels like there’s not much left of the spirit of the original films.

Like I said, I had the lunch box, but even I don’t buy what Afterlife ends up selling.


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