‘Afterlife’ does justice to the ‘Ghostbusters’ legacy

‘Afterlife’ does justice to the ‘Ghostbusters’ legacy

This is more like it.

After decades of waiting for a new film that continues the story of the iconic characters of the classic “Ghostbusters” movies, we finally get a new chapter in that story in “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.” It introduces well-written new characters with realistic, convincing relationship issues. Best of all, it’s an emotional story about family and legacy that also serves as a fitting tribute to the classic film series.

“Afterlife” finds Callie (Carrie Coon) and her children, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), relocating to a creepy old house outside Summerville, Oklahoma. The property is full of gear and research performed by Callie’s father. As Phoebe and Trevor make discovery after discovery, the mystery surrounding their grandfather’s life begins to dissipate.

Meanwhile, the whole town shakes and quakes on a daily basis. With the help of Phoebe’s new friend, Podcast, (Logan Kim), and teacher Gary Grooberson, (Paul Rudd), Trevor and Phoebe work to solve the puzzle of what’s causing Summerville to quake and put a stop to it.

While it’s rarely laugh-out-loud funny, “Afterlife” is full of wit, good character work, and a ton of heart. Working from a script he co-wrote with Gil Kenan, Director Jason Reitman crafts a story that is a logical continuation of the original movies and is tightly tied into the “Ghostbusters” mythology while not neglecting to tell its own story.

What results is a film that can give a relatable depiction of being the new kid in a small town and also supply the requisite creepy creatures and kinetic action scenes. The first scene where Podcast, Trevor and Phoebe chase a ghost in the legendary Ecto-1 is as much fun as car chase scenes get. But the movie also knocks quieter dialogue scenes, like one where Callie and Phoebe argue whether Grandpa was crazy out of the park.

The cast also does plenty to sell this story. Grace gives a pretty cerebral performance, playing a character who processes emotions differently than the rest of us. She may react to extreme situations very flatly but you can always see the wheels turning in her head. That’s a hard thing to pull off, but Grace does it.

Kim and Rudd are also great in their roles. Kim gets a lot of chuckles as a pint-sized conspiracy theorist podcasting events as they happen. Rudd is his typical goofy, funny self and helps lighten the mood and keep things becoming too drab when things get apocalyptic.

Visually, “Afterlife” looks beautiful, leaning on the natural landscape to give the movie a sense of scale. The effects are obviously more dynamic than the ones in the movies from 30-plus years ago, but they aren’t too far away for the look of those in the classic films. The camera moves and shot composition do a lot to help tell the story, whether guiding you to where your eye needs to be looking or staging important developments in the backgrounds of scenes.

Yes, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” leans hard on nostalgia. But it also tells an emotionally-fulfilling story that has some thrilling action, witty dialogue and best of all, some great new characters. In fact, it does a good enough job of developing the new characters and fitting them into the overarching “Ghostbusters” story, that it’s entirely possible that the ending will leave you a bit misty-eyed. I mean, I’ll admit it — I cried.

4 Indy Fedoras out of 5

MPAA Rating: PG-13