In some alternate universe where a global pandemic didn't knock virtually every event in the entire world dramatically off course, we would have already seen Jason Reitman's much-anticipated Ghostbusters: Afterlife. The 30 years later sequel to Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, both directed by Reitman's father Ivan, was originally set to hit theaters in July of 2020. Then the film was delayed, and delayed again, and delayed again.
Now, three months out from its hopeful final release date of Nov. 11, a select group of journalists has finally seen the film, and they're calling it the movie everyone was hoping it would be.
Set in the years following Ghostbusters II, the film follows the daughter (Carrie Coon) and grandchildren (Finn Wolfhard and Mckenna Grace) of original Ghostbuster Egon Spengler (the late Harold Ramis), who left his family a farmhouse in the middle of Oklahoma, but seemingly not much else. Once they arrive in their new home, the family works to uncover their grandfather's secrets, and with the help of an inquisitive local teacher (Paul Rudd) they realize that something else is at work in the town. Something's causing earthquakes out of nowhere, something tied to an old mine, something that just might reawaken the world's need for the Ghosbusters.
As part of Sony Pictures' presentation at CinemaCon on Monday, which also included the launch of the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer, Reitman decided to surprise attendees with a screening of Afterlife, which he dubbed in his introduction the "biggest Easter egg hunt" any movie fan has ever been on. The Easter eggs themselves will probably have to wait until the rest of the world can see the film, but in terms of the story, there was definitely a wow factor in the way attendees responded.
"Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the Ghostbusters sequel that I’ve been waiting all my life to see," Scott Menzel of We Live Entertainment wrote. "It is nostalgia done right. A perfect blend of classic Ghostbusters moments with a fresh & unique twist for a whole new generation to enjoy. I got goosebumps."
"Ghostbusters: Afterlife … Wow! Was not expecting how heartfelt it is," Jason Guerrasio of Insider wrote. "It has a very childlike Spielberg vibe to it. And @JasonReitman is extremely loyal to the original."
Of course, some viewers were willing to throw in a few reservations about what they saw, including io9's Germain Lussier.
"Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the sequel fans have been waiting decades for, for better and worse. It’s got great new characters, lots of surprises, & plenty of laughs with just the right amount of nostalgia. I loved SO much of it. However, it’s not without some issues," Lussier wrote.
He continued, "Mainly, it packs so much into it, there are big leaps in logic & plot that hold it back from really firing on every cylinder. When it works though? Especially the kid stuff? Damn, it works. Just at times, it doesn’t. Overall though, I cheered, cried, & can’t wait to watch again."
Then there were the viewers who were willing to go even further with their praise, calling it perhaps the best Ghostbusters movie they'd ever seen.
"I saw Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Sorry, no review. But what I can say is that it’s the best of the series, full stop," Full Circle's James Preston Poole said. "Stupendously well written, not leaning too hard on nostalgia, and telling a story better than even the original could muster. A winner in every sense."
So, will Ghostbusters: Afterlife become everyone else's new favorite Ghostbusters movie? For most of us, we have three months to wait and find out, but it's nice to know that there seemed to be genuine emotion among the CinemaCon crowd Monday night.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is in theaters Nov. 11.