by Geoff Fox
“It’s happening. It’s really happening!” These were words spoken by Janosz Poha near the end of Ghostbusters 2 as Vigo the Carpathian began possessing baby Oscar.
On November 19, those words were spoken by pretty much every Ghostbusters fan, including yours truly, as “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” opened across the country after multiple delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Afterlife” is the movie fans have been waiting 30 years for since the end credits rolled on the aforementioned Ghostbusters 2.
Sure, there was a reboot in 2016, but it had its problems (bad writing, bad acting, forced humor) and wasn’t in the same universe as the original movies.
Three years later, Sony Pictures released a small teaser trailer with familiar music and vehicle. A few weeks later, Jason Reitman, son of Ivan Reitman who was director of the original movies and a bit part in the second movie, was penning and directing a new Ghostbusters movie set in the original universe.
False starts, a long wait
Before I go further with “Afterlife,” I should go back and explain the last 30+ years waiting for a third Ghostbusters movie.
From 1990 to 2015, there were rumors of a third Ghostbusters movie on and off. Scripts were allegedly being written. Casts were being done. That kind of thing.
However, there was some tension between Bill Murray and Harold Ramis stemming from the movie “Groundhog Day” and the fact Murray didn’t want to do the second movie in the first place.
Rumors swirled that Murray tore up scripts of a “Ghostbusters 3” or demands he be a ghost instead of an actual Ghostbuster.
Then came 2009 when Atari released “Ghostbusters: The Video Game” that saw all four Ghostbusters (Murray, Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson) return alongside Annie Potts, William Atherton, and Brian Doyle-Murphy return to the franchise and lend their voices.
A lot of people, including Aykroyd, feel this could be the third movie.
But on February 24, 2014, all hopes of a third Ghostbusters movie with the original cast disappeared as Ramis passed away at the age of 69 due to complications from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis.
With Ramis gone, we never thought a movie would ever get made.
Paul Feig gave it a try in 2016, with the original cast making cameos, including a blink and you’ll miss it shot of a Ramis bust.
But again, “Ghostbusters: Answer the Call” fell flat to the reasons above, despite what Feig and cast members say.
With the way “Answer the Call” tanked, everyone though it was the end of any possible Ghostbusters movie.
That is until January 16, 2019, when the teaser trailer was released.
When the first two trailers were released, I had tears of joy.
Once the trailers on TV started coming out, it made it real. Ghostbusters social media, both fan and official, started getting into the single digits… pure excitement!
All of this is to explain what this movie means to not only me, but every Ghostbusters fan around the world.
Finally, it’s here
This past Saturday, I sat down with a bucket of popcorn and a soda to watch the highly anticipate movie.
After sitting through a number of commercials and trailers, the Columbia screen came up followed by Sony and Ghost Corps.
The movie starts with Egon Spengler being chased from Shandor Mine in Summersville, Oklahoma, and gives an in-universe death to Ramis.
Callie, Trevor, and Phoebe, who we never get a last name until the end of the movie, are evicted from their apartment and move to Oklahoma after her father passed away.
The town of Summerville has been experiencing earthquakes for some time, even though there are no fault lines or volcanic activity near the town.
The family tries to make it work in the small town and meet teacher Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), Podcast (Logan Kim) and Lucky (Celeste O’Connor).
An unseen force directs Phoebe to look in certain spots for a ghost trap and an underground lab that reveals the unseen force is actually Egon Spengler.
Trevor, being handy with cars, finds and gets a dust-covered and rusted Ecto-1 running with a small hand from unseen Egon.
The kids end up busting a ghost that eats nothing but metal and dub him Muncher.
There’s a moment when the kids are in jail where Phoebe called Ray to find out about the events of the 1980s. Ray gives her an explanation for the hatred he had toward Egon and why the Ghostbusters split up.
After getting tossed in jail and bailed out by Callie and Grooberson, the action picks up.
Grooberson heads to Wal-Mart to get some ice cream and encounters the Mini-Pufts, the Ghostbusters cuteness equivalent, you could say, to Baby Yoda/Grogu of the Mandalorian.
This also begins a bit of a callback to the original movie with the terror dogs. I won’t get into much so I don’t spoil anything.
The kids also find a Gozer temple in Shandor Mine and the body of Ivo Shandor, which hasn’t decayed since his death in 1945.
The kids also figure out what Egon was doing at the farm as the locals referred to him as “The Dirt Farmer.”
When they get everything in order, they head to the police station to get Ecto-1 and their gear.
Phoebe, Trevor, and Podcast jump in Ecto-1, but Lucky jumps in a police car. It’s not explained why she did or where she’s going.
The Keymaster and Gatekeeper return, allowing Gozer to return once again.
They lure Gozer to the farmhouse, and after a small battle with the kids, we get the return of the original Ghostbusters – Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Winston Zeddemore (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson).
The final battle has a very heartwarming moment that runs from the battle to the credits. The tears hit me and I had to collect myself.
If you are wondering, yes, the Ray Parker, Jr. song “Ghostbusters” is in the movie.
There are also two scenes after the movie, a mid-credit scene with a callback to the opening of the 1984 movie and a post-credit scene that includes a deleted scene from the 1984 movie that leads to the present. I won’t spoil these, but they are very sweet.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give this a biased 10 because I’m a Ghostbusters fan. It earned it just from the heartfelt tribute to Harold Ramis and the way the movie ends.
Unbiased, I’d say 8.5 just on the scene with the police car and Ecto-1 and a few other scenes that could have used a little more expansion. There are also a few spots where the comedy misses.
Grace carries the movie and Kim is great as the comedic relief. These two have great chemistry together in this movie.
It’s also great to see the entire cast from the original movie, minus Rick Moranis (Louis Tully in the original movies) and Slavitza Jovan (Gozer in the original) return.