October 11, 2021
Jason Reitman takes over his father’s franchise and immediately tanks it with a tonally misjudged blend of pandering fan service and bizarrely played-straight spectacle
Ghostbusters: Afterlife review – a slimy, stinking corpse of a sequel
There’s a certain advantage to seeing a film like Ghostbusters: Afterlife among the cosplaying faithful at its New York Comic-Con premiere. Crowd response in the cavernous convention hall had a way of clearing up any lingering confusion over why the original Ghostbusters, a crude-ish comedy featuring Saturday Night Live alumni doing sci-fi-flavored schtick, would be revived as a played-straight action spectacle in which children learn that science rules and nothing’s more important than the love of family. The appeal of a sequel systematically stripped of everything that made its predecessor into enough of a hit to merit this treatment quickly grew evident as the attendees voiced their high-decibel approval for what they saw as the true draw of this misbegotten project. An attendee couldn’t help but hear the instantaneous focus-grouping.
Every time another anti-spectral doohickey first appeared on screen, it was met with orgasmic roars of excitement from the audience. Same goes for the awestruck glimpses of the old car, the old costumes, some of the old dialogue, and the rest of the myriad nods to Ivan Reitman’s canonized blockbuster. His son Jason, the director who announced a desire to see his installment launch a whole universe of Ghostbusters content during his pre-screening panel, aspires to little more than this deadened rat-pulls-lever pleasure of recognition. His approach banks on a sycophancy proved reliable in real time at the Javits Center, that the automatic delight of knowing what things are will supersede the need for the humor or smart-ass charm that initially made Ghostbusters worth watching. At the box office, this underhanded tack may very well pay dividends. This is for the fans, after all, but a peculiar breed of fan more interested in identifying objects than what’s done with them.
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