Movie Review: Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)


Title: Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Release Date: November 19, 2021
Director: Jason Reitman
Production Company: Columbia Pictures | Bron Creative | Ghost Corps | The Montecito Picture Company  Right of Way Films
Summary/Review:

The long awaited sequel to the original Ghostbusters franchise picks up in the present day.  Egon Spengler (the late Harold Ramis) has abandoned his friends and family to invest himself in a paranormal manifestation on a remote farm in Oklahoma.  After his death, his daughter Callie (Carrie Coon), who never knew her father and is dealing with abandonment issues, inherits the creepy farmhouse and moves there with her two children.  Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) is a scientifically-literate but socially awkward preteen while Trevor is good with cars and eager to have a girlfriend.  Soon enough they each uncover bits of pieces of their mysterious grandfather’s past and begin to figure out how to carry his final project.

The great thing about this movie is that it is stylistically not at all much like the original Ghostbusters.  It feels a lot like a Spielberg/Amblin 80s family adventure complete with unsupervised children getting into very dangerous situations. It’s also very efficient in moving the film along without spending too much time dwelling on the various discoveries or the inevitable callbacks.  The final act is probably the most “derivative” of the original Ghostbusters movie, although as the plot centers on loose ends from that movie it makes sense.

There are some great performances in this movie, especially Grace as Phoebe.  The cast is boosted by newcomer Logan Kim as Phoebe’s nerdy friend Podcast, Celeste O’Connor as Trevor’s co-worker and love interest Lucky, and Paul Rudd as Gary, a lazy summer school teacher and scientist who loves the Ghostbusters, who also becomes a love interest for Callie.  And it should be no big spoiler that the original cast of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts all return as their original characters, although not as much as you might expect.  It’s a great family/adventure/comedy movie and a loving tribute to the original film.

I also loved the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, which I think was bigger on laughs, but Ghostbusters: Afterlife is bigger on heart. Both are light years better than the awful Ghostbusters II which seems to have been ignored by the Afterlife filmmakers. Now, of course, we need a multiverse where the casts of both films as well as Filmation’s Ghostbusters come together to fight the biggest threat yet! (No, that would been awful idea, so if you’re a Hollywood producer looking for concepts to work with just pretend you didn’t see this).

Rating: ****

Classic Movie Review: The Wild Bunch (1969)


Title: The Wild Bunch
Release Date: June 18, 1969
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Production Company: Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Summary/Review:

The Wild Bunch tells one of the most familiar stories in film history. A group of aging outlaws lead by Pike Bishop (William Holden) and his sidekick Dutch Engstrom (Ernest Borgnine) try for one last score with a heist of silver from the railroad.  The heist is a bust and soon the surviving members of the Wild Bunch find themselves on the run over the border into Mexico pursued by Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan), a former member of the gang now deputized by the railroad company as a bounty hunter.

The big difference between The Wild Bunch and earlier Westerns is that in 1969 the production code is no more.  Expletives are shouted, womens’ breasts are bared, and every bullet shot hits its target with an explosion of flesh and blood. (Previously all I knew about Sam Peckinpaugh was from a Monty Python sketch which I thought was exaggerating the blood and gore, but now I know better). A bigger change from earlier Hollywood is that all moral certitude is gone as the gang of anti-heroes does what they need to do to survive.

The Wild Bunch is essentially the template followed by action-adventure films for the ensuing 50 years.  It feels like an oddball among the other movies on the AFI 100 list but I can see it deserving a shot for being an influence.  And while this isn’t a movie I particularly enjoyed, it was worth watching it once.

Rating: ***