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Photo: Sony Pictures

Ghostbusters: Afterlife Flies Into Theaters

A rapid, wild ride for fans of the franchise.

When Phoebe Spengler moves to a small Oklahoma town with her mother and brother, the precocious tween scientist gets her hands on her grandfather’s old ghost-busting equipment. With the help of a new friend and her family, she tries to finish what he started: preventing the fall of humanity at the hands of a resurrected ancient god.

This latest addition to the Ghostbusters franchise, starring Carrie Coon (Fargo), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man and the Wasp), Mckenna Grace (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), wastes no time thrilling the audience with paranormal activity. The film opens with a loud, chaotic chase (ghost pursuing human, not the other way around), and a confrontation with death—ghost-busting is dangerous business.

After her estranged father’s passing, Callie Spengler, struggling to pay rent, relocates her kids to a run-down farmhouse on a bit plot of dirt. Despite forewarnings from townsfolk about the mysterious goings-on at their new abode, each family member moves forward in their lives. Trevor, Callie’s son, gets a job at the local burger joint, Phoebe makes a friend at summer school, and Callie gets a date with Phoebe’s teacher.

It’s not long until a spirit guides Phoebe to discover ghost-hunting gadgets hidden throughout her grandpa’s property. While tinkering with the equipment, Phoebe, a science-whiz, and her friend Podcast, a lovable audiophile and conspiracy-theorist, connect the dots between the town’s unusual earthquakes and what’s lurking inside the local mountain.

While original Ghostbusters fans will enjoy Easter eggs sprinkled throughout, this movie is mainly geared toward kids who love action more than character development. Scenes feel hyper-paced, leaving little time for characters to move beyond their tropes or for conflict and tension to build. Some plot points hinted at morals to the story, such as the need to work as a team, believing in friends and family, and not letting the feeling of being an outsider keep you from being who you are—but resolution came a little too easily.

The film spotlights intricate technology and characters geeking out on science, which is a plus. A handful of quips between Rudd and Coon’s characters offer parents entertainment. Heads up: there are a couple brief mature humor moments. Podcast’s character is perhaps the most delightful with his witty narrations and excitement over danger.

Overall, the film is fun, a little spooky at times, and has high production value. The kids likely won’t be disappointed by an outing to the theater. If they want to stretch out the experience, they can download the free immersive Ghostbusters: Afterlife app to learn more about the high tech Ecto-1 car and other gear, take photos using unique filters, and trap ghosts by playing the (mildly entertaining, somewhat intuitive) Ecto-1 Speed Trap Game.

Need to Know: Ghostbusters: Afterlife hits theaters November 18, 2021 and is rated PG-13.

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