4.5/10 After the cinematic abortion and one of the worst movies of the past decade (and no, I am not exaggerating) with 2016’s “Ghostbusters”, Columbia Pictures wanted to keep the franchise alive but distance itself from the atrocity of the last movie which ended up being about as funny as the Holocaust. While “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is light years ahead of the previous installment, Columbia unfortunately overcorrected a bit too much and focused way too heavily on fan service. The first act of this movie genuinely impressed me with its introduction of new, likeable characters and even more surprisingly, funny humor that worked. I’m so used to the forced humor of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that tries so hard but falls flat that I generally expect every modern blockbuster to follow in Marvel’s unfunny footsteps. So to my pleasant surprise, I found myself laughing out loud at several moments throughout, especially in the first half of the movie. Director Jason Reitman (son of original “Ghostbusters” director Ivan Reitman) wisely uses a solid mix of practical effects and CGI so the movie actually looks pretty good. While the casting, humor, visuals and pacing worked well, the other half of what makes this movie up falls flat. Since the movie is so content on pleasing fans, the script plays it safe and repeats an insane amount of content from the original film. The same villain returns, crossing the streams, the devil dogs, proton packs, marshmallow men, the entire third act, etc. The story retreads over old ground instead of trying to establish anything new for these new characters to do. The villain gets zero development and the ending battle doesn’t seem like too much of a challenge for our protagonists. Another problem with our characters is that they are a bunch of Mary Sues. For those of you who are unfamiliar, a Mary Sue character is one who is great at almost everything they do, despite no training and happens to be virtually without flaw in anything they attempt. Whatever the plot needs them to be good at, they are, with no explanation of how. In this case, Mckenna Grace as Phoebe just so happens to be absolutely brilliant in regards to all STEM fields. She is so brilliant yet remains in her normal classroom/school instead of being several grades ahead or in a school/class for gifted kids. We know she is related to Egon Spengler but just because you are related to a smart person doesn’t mean you inherit their insanely high IQ. Her brother Trevor played by Wolf Finnhard just so happens to be a great mechanic because the plot calls for him to fix the old Ecto-1 vehicle. How does a young kid who failed his driver’s test multiple times but knows how to fix vehicles that were made before he was born, despite not having a father around to teach him and a mother too busy working to show him? No idea. We will just say he can. There is a ton of belligerent product placement from Twinkie to Nestle Crunch to Walmart to Baskin-Robbins. Following Paul Rudd in the original “Ant-Man” and now this, I think he has a stipulation in his contract where he has to shill for Baskin-Robbins in every other movie that he makes. Finally, the much hyped return of the original living Ghostbusters is both a positive and a negative. On the positive side, having them back as their actual characters who bust ghosts as opposed to stupid, random cameos like in the 2016 version was a lot of fun to see them used properly. On the negative side, it seems like none of the characters stayed friends/kept in touch so when they all pop up near the end with the most convenient timing, it feels unearned and forced. The ghost version of the late Harold Ramis was a nice addition but since he is dead, they gave him no dialogue which felt awkward. They should have at least had him bend over and whisper something to his daughter/granddaughter, disappear and then someone could have asked what he whispered to them. Instead, him not saying a word despite this being his only chance to felt off. In the end, the laziness of copying the original film, blatant product placement, boring villain and Mary Sue characters make this a disappointing entry in the Ghostbusters Cinematic Universe but thank God that for the time I was viewing the movie in theaters that I wasn’t thinking about the Hellish nightmare of the 2016 version.

#EgonGirl / #ILoveYou,Venkman / #EgonButNotForgotten / #TheGhostCatchWasAGuy / #EgonLegacy / #LostInPulsation

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