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'Ghostbusters: Afterlife' (2021) REVIEW

Prior to presenting a Ghostbusters movie made for the modern age, director Jason Reitman virtually addressed critics who attended the media screening. In his opening statement, he declares that Ghostbusters: Afterlife delivers two things: a story about family made by family, and that the movie would be an Easter Egg hunt for Ghostbusters fans. Reitman, in his summary, was exactly right about that.

It is incredibly easy for studios to look back on their most successful work and opt to add to a franchise's canon through rebooted, remade material. It's not as easy for offshoots to dig deeper into the groundwork that sprawls out before them, and to contribute something rich in meaning, and wants to have a broader purpose than just a means of bumping up box office revenue before falling out of relevancy once again. Ghostbusters: Afterlife sets out to become a transitional vehicle that introduces a new generation to Ghostbusters while equally delighting those who have been patiently waiting to see the Ecto-1 rip-roar across silver screens again.

Reitman is insistent that Ghostbusters: Afterlife is about family ties, and the film remains loyal to his cause. While the sequel cannot exactly be defined as a "coming of age" story, it becomes quite comfortable with the challenges that today's youth face: fitting in, standing out, and accepting oneself for who they are. It navigates the awkwardness of being a young person in today's world with quirky-yet-affectionate wit about it, laden with sarcastic charm and dry humor. Reitman, in association with co-writer Gil Kenan, have created a genuinely clever chapter of the Ghostbusters franchise that is peppered with allusions to the series' latest installation's predecessors.

While Ghostbusters: Afterlife possesses a magnetism that makes the film a true delight to watch, it stumbles over itself as soon as the third act introduces itself. The sequel loses touch with its tenderhearted nature while suddenly shifting its entire focus over its supernatural elements that have been hinted at and teased. It's a hard transition that is done so suddenly, and the abrupt shift isolates the film's climax from the established narrative. The jarring difference derails Ghostbusters: Afterlife, but not to the extent where it cannot salvage itself when drawing to its close.

At the heart of it, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a genuinely lovable tribute to its inspiration with enough warmth and nostalgia to distract away from its faultier moments. It's not exactly a ghost story, nor does it want to be completely dedicated to the haunt at hand. Instead, it eagerly welcomes back fans with open arms and introduces a new age of busting ghosts in a more contemporary fashion. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a feel-good blockbuster that asks the same question: who 'ya gonna call? 7/10.

*There is one mid-credit and one post-credit scene following Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

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