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Afterlife ‘breathes new life into the franchise’s’ 80s fantasy entertainment

“Ghostbusters” is the franchise that refuses to die. Since the release of the original, there has been an increasing flow of merchandise, from T-shirts to a new proton pack, a multi-platform video game series, a 1997 animated show called “Extreme Ghostbusters “and many comic book series. It’s clear that fans always wanted more, even though the 1989 sequel wasn’t so funny or engaging; probably due, in part, to being informed by the hit, kid-friendly animated series “The Real Ghostbusters” which began in 1986 and removed humor from adults. (Sorry, no more ghost sex.)

Directed by Jason Reitman, Oscar nominated director of “Juno” and “Up In The Air” and the son of original “Ghostbusters” director Ivan Reitman (who produced the new one), “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” released Friday, finally delivers the sequel longtime fans deserve. During a surprise screening at New York Comic Con in early October, audiences were thrilled with a new tale that also featured cameo appearances from all of the surviving cast members.

It delivers the products in the spirit of the classic original by balancing the spooky and the wacky, coming up with distinct new characters, meeting kids and adults halfway through the humor, and giving us a more twist on it. concept youth. In the 1980s, the Ghostbusters (Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson) became nerd icons with an anti-establishment bent. Nerd culture is everywhere now, but the Ghostbusters’ alien status remains in this small town story because, in the movie, it shows that their old exploits were laughed at by many.

The original ghost hunters.Colombia Pictures

Setting up “Afterlife” is simple. Mired in debt, Callie Spengler (Carrie Coon), the estranged daughter of Ghostbusters team member Egon Spengler (the late Harold Ramis), moves her teenage son Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and younger daughter Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) into the Oklahoma countryside. Callie has inherited her father’s creaky old house, and Phoebe, a goofy nerd, becomes fascinated with her grandfather’s paranormal adventures after discovering her old Ghostbusters gear.

Meanwhile, Trevor discovers the clumsy Ghostbusters Ecto-1 car and develops it. A nearby mountain with an abandoned mine is home to supernatural secrets and sinister specters that generate regular tremors and threaten their rural town much like Manhattan in previous films. Soon the young Spenglers, joined by their new Podcast friends (Logan Kim) and Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), attempt to stop an old evil from taking hold of the world. And in the real fashion of 80s kids’ fantasy movies, most adults don’t believe them.

While the trailers made “Afterlife” odd, there’s still a lot of branded humor that fueled the success of the original. Phoebe drops dry, cheesy jokes, the talkative podcast constantly documents everything in its wacky way, and Paul Rudd’s summer school teacher, who befriends her, serves a spirit of self-deprecation. In one scene, as unenthusiastic as his typically slow-to-class students, he distracts them with ’80s VHS movies that include Stephen King’s heartwarming story of a rabid dog named Cujo.

It was a smart move for Reitman and his co-writer Gil Kenan to extract the supernatural scenarios from an urban location – a quirky idea in the 1980s – and place them in an American Gothic setting. Like its predecessors, the polarizing reboot of 2016 also took place in Manhattan, so it was time for a change.

Reitman and Kenan have also given the franchise a new lease of life by wisely focusing on a younger cast (Phoebe being the main hero here) rather than bringing back the original Ghostbusters for a full adventure. There are lots of nods to all the old characters, villains and jokes, but placing the story in a small town that seems out of time allows “Afterlife” to retain a sense of wonder and joy for years to come. 80 which will connect with older fans even if newer ones are drawn. It also offers an emotional family history.

Indeed, about its name, “Afterlife” succeeds because it knows how to pass the torch to Gen Z Ghostbusters. Reitman takes material his father worked with and imbues it with his own style. It plays to elements of the original films, the latter of which was darker and more serious while also updating the wacky humor that made the original so endearing. It’s fresh and remixed combined, with the most classic moment involving the hilarious shenanigans of the tiny Stay Puft Marshmallow Men – parents of the juggernaut that crossed Manhattan at the height of the original – coming to life in a Walmart, a chain. who did just that. at the Big Apple in the 2000s.

Reitman, Kenan and the cast put all the right touchstones on, including two darts in the credits – one of which hints at a sequel and both of which will shoot the hearts of older fans. While “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” doesn’t push the franchise’s major boundaries, it does strike the right balance between ’80s grandeur and humor with a distinctly 20s flavor. It’s a welcome return to a good franchise. -loved but inconsistent who understands what made the original so fun.

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