Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)

Movie


Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)

When a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.
Canada
USA
IMDb   N/A
Metacritic   62 %
TheMovieDb    7.7 /10
RottenTomatoes  61 %
FilmAffinity   6.3 /10
Creators
Director Jason Reitman
Writer Gil Kenan
Writer Jason Reitman
Writer Dan Aykroyd
Writer Harold Ramis
Information
Release Date2021-11-10
Runtime
GenreComedy, Fantasy
Content RatingPG-13 (PG-13)
Awards
CompanyColumbia Pictures, BRON Studios, Ghostcorps
CountryCanada, USA
LanguageEnglish
Dr. Peter Venkman
Dr. Raymond Stantz
Dr. Winston Zeddmore
Phoebe's Classmate
Trevor's Classmate
Janine Melnitz
Sheriff Domingo
Mr. Grooberson

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a 2021 American supernatural comedy film directed by Jason Reitman, who co-wrote the screenplay with Gil Kenan. The film stars Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, and Paul Rudd, while Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts reprise their roles from the original films. It is the sequel to Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989), both directed by Reitman's father and this film's producer Ivan, and the fourth film overall in the Ghostbusters franchise. Set thirty-two years after the events of the second film, a single mother and her two children move to a small town in Oklahoma, where they discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and their grandfather's secret legacy.

A third Ghostbusters film had been in various stages of development since Ghostbusters II was released in 1989, stalling as Murray refused to commit to the project. After the death of cast member Harold Ramis in 2014, Sony instead produced a female-driven reboot directed by Paul Feig and released in 2016. After Feig's film drew controversy among fans of the original films and became a box office failure, Jason Reitman developed a sequel to the original films. The new cast members were announced by July 2019, while the original cast signed on two months later. It is also posthumously dedicated to Ramis. Filming took place from July to October 2019.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife was screened unannounced on August 23, 2021 during the 2021 CinemaCon event in Las Vegas. It was released in the United States on November 19, 2021, after being delayed four times from an original July 2020 date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film received mixed reviews, with the cast members' performances, Reitman's direction, and nostalgic tone being praised, but its fan service being criticized.


Plot

Thirty-seven years after the "Manhattan Crossrip of '84", Ghostbusters founding member Egon Spengler has relocated to Summerville, Oklahoma, where Gozerian cultist Ivo Shandor's mining operations were located. Egon captures an entity from one of the mines, aiming to lure its master to his farm, where he has set a trap for it. When it fails, he runs inside his farmhouse, hiding the ghost trap in a secret compartment located in the floor. Egon sits in a chair calmly when a fog creeps in; he then has a fatal heart attack and dies when the spectral entity assaults him.

Callie, Egon's estranged daughter, and her two children, Trevor and Phoebe, are evicted from their home and forced to move into Egon's farm in Summerville. Trevor meets Lucky, a local girl working in a diner, and Phoebe is enrolled in summer school, under the care of Gary Grooberson, her eccentric science teacher, whom Callie later dates. Janine Melnitz informs Callie that Egon left behind a mountain of debt.

While sorting through Egon's belongings, Phoebe finds the house is haunted and discovers a PKE Meter, and an unseen ghost leads her to a ghost trap, while Trevor finds the decrepit Ecto-1 and repairs its engine. Lucky takes Trevor to an old mine atop a mountain, where something has escaped. Phoebe brings the ghost trap to school to show her friend, Podcast, where Gary reveals himself as an aspiring Ghostbuster, unveiling his own investigation on Summerville. Despite not sitting on an epicenter, it has been experiencing a string of strange earthquakes, which he suspects is caused by something supernatural. Gary, Phoebe, and Podcast tamper with the ghost trap, and a bestial entity escapes into Shandor's mine.

The ghost leads Phoebe to an underground lair where Egon kept his equipment. Realizing the ghost is her grandfather, Phoebe repairs Egon’s proton pack under his direction and tests it the next day when encountering the metal-eating ghost Muncher. It escapes capture and flees into Summerville, where Phoebe and Podcast meet with Trevor in the moving Ecto-1. After Phoebe explains to Trevor they are descendants of a Ghostbuster, they chase and successfully capture Muncher. However, the police arrest them for property damage, confiscating the Ecto-1 and other Ghostbusters gear. Phoebe contacts the Ghostbusters' number, and Ray Stantz (who again works at his occult bookstore after the "Vigo Incident of '89") tells her Egon took the car and the gear before moving to Summerville, causing the other Ghostbusters to accuse him of betraying them.

Trevor, Phoebe, Lucky, and Podcast return to the mine, finding a temple dedicated to Gozer. They also find Ivo Shandor (in suspended animation), and a trap Egon had set up to contain any potential incursion by Gozer. Gary and Callie are possessed by Gozer's minions, Vinz Clortho the Keymaster and Zuul the Gatekeeper, respectively, and go to Shandor's mine. The Keymaster destroys Egon's trap, allowing Gozer to manifest and Ivo Shandor to wake. Gozer kills Shandor, taking its throne in the temple. The teens discover Egon's plan to trap Gozer, and gear up as Ghostbusters and enter the mine again to enact it. Podcast traps Zuul, causing Gozer's form to falter. Callie is restored, and they flee the mine to Egon's farm drawing Gozer there. The trap fails, and Gozer breaks Zuul out of the trap. Zuul possesses Lucky, and Gozer is restored.

Ray arrives with Peter Venkman and Winston Zeddemore to aid the Spenglers et al, but Gozer breaks free by uncrossing their streams. Phoebe attempts to save them by herself. Egon materializes beside his granddaughter to help. Trevor powers the trap with his proton pack, and the traps are triggered, trapping Gozer and its minions within them. Egon reconciles with family and friends before vanishing into the afterlife. Afterwards, the surviving original Ghostbusters return to New York City with the Ecto-1 and equipment.

In a mid-credit and post-credit sequence, Venkman and Dana Barrett are revealed to be married and playing with Venkman's ESP cards and shock machine, while Winston is a wealthy businessman who uses his resources to tend the Ghostbusters' properties, including their firehouse, and had the Ecto-1 completely restored. In the final shot, a red light is shown blinking on the ecto-containment unit.


Cast

  • Mckenna Grace as Phoebe Spengler:Callie's daughter, Trevor's sister and the granddaughter of the late Dr. Egon Spengler.
  • Finn Wolfhard as Trevor Spengler:Callie's son, Phoebe's brother and Egon's grandson.
  • Carrie Coon as Callie Spengler:Phoebe and Trevor's single mother and Egon's daughter.
  • Paul Rudd as Gary Grooberson:Phoebe and Podcast's teacher, who is a fan of the Ghostbusters and an amateur parapsychologist.
  • Logan Kim as Podcast: Phoebe's classmate.
  • Celeste O'Connor as Lucky Domingo: Trevor's co-worker and love interest.
  • Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman
  • Dan Aykroyd as Dr. Raymond "Ray" Stantz
  • Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore
  • Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett
  • Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz
  • Oliver Cooper as Dr. Egon Spengler (body double)
  • Bokeem Woodbine as Sheriff Domingo: The local sheriff of Summerville and Lucky's father.
  • Marlon Kazadi as Thickneck
  • Sydney Mae Diaz as Swayze
  • Tracy Letts as Jack
  • Josh Gad as Muncher (voice)
  • J. K. Simmons as Ivo Shandor:The leader of the Cult of Gozer. Shandor was previously mentioned in the first film and appeared in Ghostbusters: The Video Game.
  • Olivia Wilde (uncredited) as Gozer the Gozerian:An ancient eldritch being of unknown origin who was previously defeated by the Ghostbusters during the Manhattan Crossrip of '84. Shohreh Aghdashloo provides Gozer's voice, while Emma Portner plays Gozer's CGI spirit form.

Harold Ramis posthumously appears as Dr. Egon Spengler via archival clips and photos taken from the original two films. Ramis' likeness is also used in the film, superimposed over a stand-in actor.


Production

Development

Earlier efforts

In the early 1990s, following the release of Ghostbusters II, Dan Aykroyd wrote a script for a third film tentatively titled Ghostbusters III: Hellbent. The concept had the characters transported to an alternate universe version of Manhattan called Manhellton, where the people and places are "hellish" versions of Earth, with the Ghostbusters meeting and confronting the devil. At the time, Aykroyd stated that the studio was interested, though the principal actors (especially Bill Murray) were not. It featured a new, younger group of Ghostbusters, while Ray, Egon, and Winston struggle to keep the business going upon Peter's relationship becoming serious with Dana. Part of this concept would later be used in Ghostbusters: The Video Game. At one point in the film's development, the new Ghostbusters team was rumored to be played by Chris Farley, Chris Rock, and Ben Stiller.

By 2004, movement on a sequel was revisited by the studio, though Bill Murray again expressed his disinterest in the project, stating that he dislikes sequels. The following year, Ramis confirmed plans to introduce Ben Stiller into the principal cast. By 2009, however development of the project had stalled. By January 2010, Ivan Reitman confirmed that he would be directing the film. In March, Murray discussed development of the film, and his mixed feelings about reprising his role. A release was scheduled for Christmas 2012. In the October issue of Vanity Fair, Aykroyd commented on the screenplay written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, stating that he was particularly impressed with how Murray's character had been written, and the implementation of the new team with the original team, while he and Ramis would work on a second draft of the script.

By August 2011, Aykroyd stated that the plan was for filming to begin later that year, with the story of the mantle being assumed by the younger generation. Later, when Murray decided to pass on reprising the starring role of Peter Venkman, Aykroyd announced the possibility that another actor might replace him. Aykroyd also mentioned that he wanted Rick Moranis to return as Louis Tully. By February 2012, the film was placed on hold as the production team reevaluated the project. Without Murray, the studio searched for replacement actors and considered featuring his character as a CGI-rendered ghost. In June, Murray again acknowledged that all involved were attempting to develop the third film once more before dropping out of the film the following month. In July, Aykroyd confirmed that the film was back in development, with a script re-write from Etan Cohen. Aykroyd said of the script that "It's got to be perfect. That's the whole thing. There's no point in doing it unless it's perfect. So that's what we're up to now." By September 2012, Reitman announced the developments of a remake. In May 2013, Aykroyd discussed plot points including real-life experiments being done by college students at Columbia University being source for inspiration. The plot would revolve around research being done by the university, which would bring about threats from other dimensions with a new team of Ghostbusters forming to save Earth's plane of existence from supernatural threats. The script reportedly wrote Murray's character in, with hopes that the actor would decide to join the production.

After the death of Harold Ramis on February 24, 2014, Sony Pictures stated that Ramis would appear in the film through use of a cameo. With the script needing to be reworked following Ramis' passing, the project was delayed once again. By March 2015, it was confirmed that Reitman would not be directing the third film, but would remain as producer with plans to begin principal photography by early 2015. Sigourney Weaver later revealed that her character's son will feature as a member of the team.

Afterlife development

A new film connected to the original two films, was revealed in January 2019. Jason Reitman, son of original director Ivan Reitman, was announced to direct from a script he co-wrote with Gil Kenan, while Ivan Reitman will serve as a producer. According to The Hollywood Reporter's Borys Kit, the film will feature teenagers, two boys and two girls, as the new recruits for the titular team. The film was scheduled to be released on July 10, 2020, but was delayed to March 5, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Principal photography began in July 2019 in Calgary and ended in October of that same year.

Director Jason Reitman has stated the film will ignore the events of 2016's Ghostbusters reboot directed by Paul Feig. Later, in February 2019, Reitman stated on a podcast that this film will "hand the movie back to the fans". Reitman clarified that he did not mean to snub the 2016 film and that he had "nothing but admiration" for Feig. Feig himself stated that Reitman had been a supporter of his film and that he "can't wait to see his take on the Ghostbusters universe". Reitman later explained the origins of his film, that the idea of a young teenage girl wanting to be a Ghostbuster had come to him, and with a positive reaction from Feig's film, proved out that the idea that anyone could be a Ghostbuster would work. Reitman continued that the Ghostbusters franchise could readily expand on this idea with all types of people becoming Ghostbusters, personally thanking Feig for making this possible. Reitman considered that unlike the three prior Ghostbusters films which all involved people going into the ghostbusting business that he wanted to make this film about family first, and with Kenan, created the script based around the Spengler family and why they were so disconnected. Of Reitman's script, Aykroyd stated, "Jason Reitman wrote a beautiful, heartfelt script that takes the real DNA from the first two movies and transfers that directly to the third, the next generation. It hands the legacy off to a new generation of stars, and players, and actors, and characters." Bill Murray, also confirmed to be returning to reprise Peter Venkman, said of the script, "The script is good. It's got lots of emotion in it. It's got lots of family in it, with through lines that are interesting."

With a script centered around family, Reitman also felt it was appropriate to also change the setting from New York City to the American West, as to give the film a new identity from the prior films and a different color palette. The script was structured like a mystery to slowly reveal the connection to the Egon Spengler character, which then would bring in the other facets of past Ghostbusters elements into the film. For example, the film brings up that Dr. Ray Stantz (Aykroyd's character) returned to running Ray's Occult Books as shown in Ghostbusters II.

Casting

Mckenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, and Carrie Coon were announced in March 2019, cast as the sister and brother with their single mother, respectively. Reitman described Grace as an avid fan of the series and a perfect fit for his teenaged-girl Ghostbuster concept. Wolfhard was unsure if he would get the role as he had already dressed up as a Ghostbuster during the second season of Stranger Things and that "Jason Reitman is probably not even going to look at my tape" because of that. On June 27, 2019, Paul Rudd shared a video on the official Ghostbusters social media accounts revealing that he had been cast in the film, later confirmed to be Mr. Grooberson, the children's new teacher who knows of the Ghostbusters' legacy. Newcomers Celeste O'Connor and Logan Kim were announced as cast in July 2019.

In addition, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts have been confirmed to be reprising their roles from the first two Ghostbusters films.

Production

To hold to the first Ghostbusters film, Reitman and the production crew reviewed the design of the ghosts and other supernatural creatures from the original film to design the ones for Afterlife, observing that nearly everyone from the original film had an original and unique design. This in part led to the creature of Muncher, a ghost similar to Slimer, for Afterlife. Reitman said that "Something happened to Slimer over the years that people started thinking of him as the dalmatian of the firehouse. The original Slimer was an angry dude and very scary and we wanted to get back to that."

Filming

Under the working title "Rust City", principal photography began on July 12, 2019, in Calgary, Alberta and area, and lasted until October. Location shooting in surrounding communities such as Crossfield, Beiseker, and Drumheller took place during July and August 2019. Additional locations around Alberta were also used. On October 18, 2019, Reitman posted a photo on his Instagram account confirming that filming had wrapped after 68 days.

Music

Ghostbusters: Afterlife Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by
Rob Simonsen
ReleasedNovember 18, 2021
Recorded2021
GenreFilm score
Length70:11
LabelSony Music Classical
ProducerRob Simonsen
Ghostbusters soundtracks chronology
Ghostbusters: Original Motion Picture Score
(2016)
Ghostbusters: Afterlife Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
(2021)

"Ghostbusters", by Ray Parker Jr., appears in the film's end credits. "Haunted House", which is performed by Mckenna Grace, also appears in the film's end credits. "The Clapping Song" by Shirley Ellis, "Baby It's You" by The Shirelles, "Can You Get to That" by Funkadelic" and "Boredom" by Buzzcocks are featured during the film.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is scored by Rob Simonsen. The score includes new material as well as utilizing material originally written by Elmer Bernstein for the original film. A soundtrack CD was released on November 18, 2021.

All tracks are written by Rob Simonsen.

Track listing
No.TitleLength
1."Trapped"4:56
2."Dirt Farm"3:29
3."Chess"1:19
4."Summerville"1:42
5."Research"1:53
6."Under the Floor"3:11
7."Nice Replica"0:43
8."Cuplable"1:53
9."Laboratory"3:59
10."Lab Partners"2:03
11."Definitely Class Five"2:07
12."Go Go Go"0:39
13."Trap Him"3:54
14."Don't Go Chasing Ghosts"2:42
15."Mini-Pufts"3:46
16."Down the Well"4:14
17."The Temple Resurrected"2:03
18."The Plan"3:00
19."Suit Up"2:09
20."No, I'm Twelve"2:27
21."Getaway"2:55
22."Callie"2:31
23."Protecting the Farm"5:41
24."Showdown"2:31
25."Reconciliation"4:36
Total length:70:11

Marketing

On August 22, 2019, toy manufacturer and multimedia company Hasbro announced that they have obtained the master toy license for the Ghostbusters franchise, with the new products (including action figures and role-play items) set to be released in stores in April. Because of the pandemic delays to the movie's release date, the introduction of Ghostbusters: Afterlife toys to market has also been delayed. Target received exclusive versions of some toys ahead of the projected June 2021 release date, but further rollouts were held back when the studio announced an additional delay until November 2021. A new line of Hasbro action figures based on the movie was unveiled on the same day the second trailer debuted. It included several characters and costumes that had not been seen in any promotional material for the movie before.


Release

Ghostbusters: Afterlife was originally scheduled to be released in the United States on July 10, 2020, by Sony Pictures Releasing, but it was delayed to March 5, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, taking the release date of Uncharted. On October 21, 2020, Sony pushed the film once again to June 11, 2021, then later in January 2021 shifted the release to November 11, 2021. In September 2021, the film was once again delayed to November 19, 2021, taking over the release date of Top Gun: Maverick.

The film had an unannounced screening on August 23, 2021 during the 2021 CinemaCon event in Las Vegas. The film also had a surprise screening for fans at the 2021 New York Comic Con.


Reception

Box office

In the United States and Canada, Ghostbusters: Afterlife was released alongside King Richard, and was initially projected to gross $28–35 million from 4,315 theaters in its opening weekend. After making $16.6 million on its first day (including $4.5 million from Thursday night previews, $1 million more than the 2016 film), projections were increased to $40 million.

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 61% based on 193 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The site's critics' consensus reads: "Ghostbusters: Afterlife crosses the streams between franchise revival and exercise in nostalgia -- and this time around, the bustin' mostly feels good." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 47 out of 100 based on 40 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an 82% positive score, with 69% saying they would definitely recommend it.

Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter described the film's cast as "engaging" and " the comic beats down", and added: "they also play more fully fleshed people than the first film offered, reflecting the director's interest in character-driven stories." She also noted some similarities the film had with Stranger Things, The Wizard of Oz and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Olly Richards of Empire gave the film a score of 4 out of 5 stars, describing it as being "thoroughly lovely" and concluding that it "firmly establishes its own new generation" while being "full of love for the originals". Peter Debruge of Variety described the film as an "unnecessary but enjoyable movie", and added: "The good news for Ghostbusters fans is that Afterlife does nothing to tarnish what has come before". William Bibbiani of TheWrap wrote that "fans of the original — especially the ones who love finding Easter eggs — will probably be satisfied", but added: "Those who enjoyed the 1984 film and who actually wanted a new installment of Ghostbusters to offer something different … may be disappointed, but they can probably settle for Afterlife's slick and straightforward, formulaic craftsmanship." Scott Mendelson of Forbes gave the film a score of 6 out of 10, describing it as a "charming and witty kid-centric coming-of-age fantasy", but criticized its reliance on "pandering" nostalgic fanservice. Kyle Smith of National Review described the film as "a winsome, endearing summer movie for November, a cunningly engineered generational bridge."

Christian Holub of Entertainment Weekly was more critical in his review of the film, giving it a grade of C+ and describing it as "a stark reminder of how much of modern American culture consists of excavating the ruins of past glories." Jesse Hassenger of The A.V. Club gave the film a grade of C, writing that it "wants desperately to summon the spirit of watching the first movie back in 1984. It winds up ghoulish in the wrong way." Courtney Howard of IndieWire also gave the film a C grade, writing: "Yet with all the nostalgia packed into the picture, its own refurbished identity is slightly compromised, functioning as a mimeograph of what came before it." Charles Bramesco of The Guardian gave the film a score of 1 out of 5 stars, writing: "Here, we can find a damning summary of modern Hollywood's default mode – a nostalgia object, drained of personality and fitted into a dully palatable mold, custom-made for a fandom that worships everything and respects nothing." Kevin Maher of The Times gave the film 2/5 stars, describing it as "A shamefully flat mishmash rehash."