For those of us who were born in the 80s, it’s always a pleasure to be taken back in time with a movie and remember the days of Back to the Future, Robocop, Terminator, Karate Kid, Indiana Jones, and Superman can all be real tear-jerking stuff. And Ghostbusters is another 80’s nostalgia classic as we make the trip to the past in a matter of seconds, as if we were back in our living rooms at home, racing around in a white Cadillac and trapping ghosts in a plastic box like there were no tomorrow. Once again becoming those kids fighting evil from the sofa, humming the mythical soundtrack of the film we loved so much to listen to and which in 1985 won the BAFTA award for the best original song. The movie Ghostbusters: Afterlife directed and co-written by Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan, does just that; reminds us of what it was like to be a kid back then and how we enjoyed imagining that there was life beyond ours, in those ghosts that remain among us until they fulfill their mission on Earth.

The current remake now in theaters reflects the spirit of the original made in 1984, including a cameo featuring all the original stars (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson). It has all the necessary ingredients to take us to an era that we now call ‘retro’. For example, the waiters at the gas station bar serve food on roller-skates, the teacher plays the students VHS movies on an old television, the protagonist’s friend records a podcast on an outdated device …

Even though it’s set in 2021, the references to the 80’s pop up throughout and even features one of those old-fashioned phones with the wheels dial you had to turn for every number you marked. Hence if the mission was a return to the past, the job has indeed been well-done. The problem is everything else. It’s a highly predictable film and far too long for what it wants to tell us.

The good thing about movies made today based on films from the 80’s is just how far we’ve come technologically speaking. The Marshmallow Man is just one example. We see him emerge from a bag of marshmallows, his snow-white body, love handles galore, in tiny form as he jumps around the shelves of a supermarket, that is until he falls into a barbecue and disintegrates, sending up a chorus of ‘awwwws’ from gasping cinemagoers, distraught because, even though he’s only appeared on screen for a bit, we’ve already taken a shine to him. Then come the guardians of the evil Gozer the Gozerian, inspired by those from the original film and  faithful to the aesthetic they had back in the 80’s, like they were toy dolls taken from that moment. And it’s precisely the technology which compensates for some of the movies shortcomings, the major one being… we know exactly how it all pans out. The characters delve into the past and end up discovering the history of the first Ghostbusters, even recovering the car, the weapons and the famous suits as from minute one, we start to get the feeling that we’re not going to be surprised by anything that takes place.

Our novelty feature on this occasion is that we have an actress playing the leading role with  Mckenna Grace, leaving one of the most prominent actors from another retro show, Netflix series Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard, in the background. She’s the star, the scientist, the number one geek, the one who discovers all the skeletons in the closet in this family: even adopting the role of the gun-carrying, ghost-hunting lead. We see her doing it all; from playing chess to repairing the weapon she’ll eventually use to capture the heavy-set ghost who feeds on steel. The team is joined by another African American female figure and actress Celeste O’Connor. Thus, the team is made up of two girls, Wolfhard and little Logan Kim, another geek who dreams of finding fame and glory through his podcast on the paranormal. If we think about it, we have transitioned from seeing four men hunting ghosts, to four women doing the same job and have now moved onto four children in a diversely balanced crew. The next logical step would be that of three elderly men: Murray, Aykroyd and Hudson (sadly, the fourth actor, Harold Ramis, passed in 2014), with their aches and pains as they continue the fight against evil and salvation of all humanity.

Bárbara Padilla
Bárbara Padilla. Collaborator in the Series section of La Vanguardia. News editor and presenter on RAC1. Barcelona-based journalist since 2007. An amateur movie buff since she was old enough to know right from wrong and of series since the Netflix boom.