Review: Ghostbusters: Afterlife revives the franchise nicely

Ghostbusters: Afterlife. PG, 122 minutes. Three stars.

In the beginning - well, 1984 - there was Ghostbusters. The paranormal comedy - with a catchy title song by Ray Parker Jr - was a hit and was followed by a 1989 sequel reuniting the core trio of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis as the title characters.

I found those films enjoyable but not classics (especially the second) so the prospect of a female reboot didn't faze me. But that 2016 film was let down by a weak script.

This new movie follows on from the first two and, while again no classic, it is a pleasant surprise. Jason Reitman - son of the original film's director Ivan - directed and co-wrote and there's a bit of a Steven Spielberg feeling about this one (compliment intended).

Decades after the events of the original, struggling divorced mother Callie (Carrie Coon) and her children, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) are kicked out of their big-city apartment and move to small-town Oklahoma.

Finn Wolfhard, left, Mckenna Grace and Logan Kim in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Picture: Sony

Finn Wolfhard, left, Mckenna Grace and Logan Kim in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Picture: Sony

Callie's estranged father has died and left her his farm. It's a decreipt, basically worthless place, but it's all they've got. Callie and Trevor get jobs and Phoebe attends summer school, where her intellect piques the interest of the teacher, seismologist Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd).

It's not a big spoiler to say that Callie's father was the late Egon Spengler (played by Ramis in the earlier films) and that . New York isn't the only place to find ghosts. Fighting spooks is, in a sense, the family business.

Other characters include Lucky (Celeste O'Connor), Trevor's co-worker and eventual love interest, and Podcast (Logan Kim), one of Phoebe's classmates.

There are lots of cameos and callbacks to the earlier films - and make sure to catch the credit scenes. One appearance by an actor no longer with us might raise debate as to the appropriateness of such a move, but I felt it worked. The whole movie, though, goes a bit too hard on the fan service. Those not familiar with the earlier films will miss a lot.

While the film feels long - just over two hours - and overstuffed, the actors are good and Reitman spends time setting up the scenario and characters before unleashing the special effects.

This is fun for the nostalgic or those who've seen the older film recently.

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