- November 18th, 2021, 11:42 pm#4960431
I alluded to as much in the regular thread:
I loved Phoebe. I thought she was a great character, and that Grace truly embodied the spirit of Ramis' performance while also bringing something new to the table. So much of the humor in the movie for me isn't one-liners, it's just the way she inhabits the role, which is thrilling and entertaining.
I was glad to see the movie make fun of its own nature a little (the best example of this that comes to mind is Trevor's flashlight going out when he finds the car for the first time). As far as it being funny, it was lighthearted and jokey enough for me even if it isn't the kind of comedy the original movie is.
For the first two-thirds, I felt the film walked the line pretty well on nostalgia. As I think anyone who's seen my posts knows (and I am operating under the assumption it's okay to mention this here as long as it doesn't derail the thread), I am a fan of the 2016 movie, but among the complaints I hear I agree on, it's very reference-heavy in a way that gets old, and I thought, aside from the score (which I still think is good!), this one had more restraint.
However, then the third act rolls around, and that's where most of my major problems lie. I love Ghostbusters as much as anyone else on this board -- I'm just on the end of a whirlwind trip to Los Angeles I was officially invited on just over 24 hours before I was seeing the film, which I took exclusively to attend the premiere -- but while I always felt it was inevitable there would be more Ghostbusters, I had no idea what form that would take, nor have I thought a reunion movie seemed like an especially viable idea in roughly the last 21 years (even moreso during the last seven following Harold's passing). I've seen Blues Brothers 2000. Ghostbusters would not be Ghostbusters without Dan's eccentricities or creative vision, but Hellbent sounded like it had similar issues.
I come to Ghostbusters both as a fan of the series, but also a fan of movies, and someone with a keen fascination with sequels. They're a tricky business: they need to evoke the things that made the original successful, but they really do need to be doing something new, and it really helps if there's a thematic idea behind it. What I found exciting about Ghostbusters: Afterlife when it was announced was the feeling like Jason might have a uniquely good one: working through the idea that his father created something special and meaningful and that he might take on that mantle, same as Phoebe. So, ultimately I found it pretty disappointing that Afterlife returns to the well of Zuul and Gozer, has Callie and Grooberson repeat the Gatekeeper/Keymaster stuff, and basically goes on plot autopilot for the last 20 minutes, after so successfully bringing a sense of freshness to things for the preceding 100.
The low point of this for me, sorry to say it, is the integration of the original Ghostbusters. Reitman is a very talented director, especially in his work with Diablo Cody (Young Adult is one of the sharpest comedies of the last decade), and he mostly acquits himself as an effects and action director, but the movie's climax is a real mess. In a moment where a bunch of intense ghost action is occurring, the movie grinds to a halt for their entrance. What is Gozer doing, just standing there while they say hello? It's also pretty underwhelming to have them basically repeat and riff on bits from the original, rather than coming up with new jokes.
However, what's most unfortunate about this scene is that it takes some of the focus away from Phoebe and her friends, who are the heroes of this new movie and deserve to be the primary factor in defeating Gozer. I think if the Ghostbusters had arrived with less momentum-killing conversation, and provided backup to these resourceful kids (most of the beats in the scene are fine even if the execution is bad, like Phoebe having re-lined up all of Egon's dominoes and Trevor figuring out to blast the tanks; I would have added Podcast using the ghost whistle to knock Grooberson out of his Terror Dog and given Lucky something better to do than be possessed), I could've forgiven the familiarity a bit more, but it feels like the movie shorting its best aspect.
Also, sorry, I absolutely, under no circumstances, for no reason, and in no context wanted to see a ghostly Harold on screen. It feels to me like the realization of so much (IMO) cringe artwork done in the wake of his passing. The pan across the guys should've just been to Phoebe, with Harold represented by some extra energy sparking, charging, and coloring her proton beam. The finale could've been Phoebe and Callie, understanding both each other and their grandfather/father, looking up at the stars, and if you absolutely had to have Harold in there visually, I'd have accepted some sort of Ghostbusters II-style reveal of his visage burned onto the barn or in the dirt where he buried the traps. Best I can grant is that the visual representation was solid, not a Rogue One monstrosity.
All in all, I like it more than II, because Phoebe gives the movie so much. But I really wish the ending had been massaged into something much different.