Ghostbusters: Afterlife Review

Ghostbusters: Afterlife movie posterSynopsis
When Phoebe (McKenna) and her family learn of her grandfather’s passing, they move to his home in Summerville, Oklahoma. When Phoebe learns about her grandfather’s work, she must pick up where he left off and stop the impending apocalypse.

Review
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is Hollywood’s latest attempt to create a sequel to a popular franchise decades later, this time it’s fan favorite supernatural comedy, Ghostbusters. I will say that it is one of the better examples of how to create a follow-up film many years later; paying homage to what came before while building its own identity. With the passing of Harold Ramis years ago, he obviously could not be in this film. The way his character of Egon was handled in this film pays respect to the character (and Harold himself) in a heartwarming way. As a Ghostbusters film and starring Paul Rudd, you can be sure to expect plenty of laughs. In that regard, the film did not disappoint. I found myself laughing out loud multiple times throughout the movie.

However, the overall pace of Ghostbusters: Afterlife felt slow as it tries to tie into the previous films and characters while building up towards the final showdown. It’s not that it was bad, it’s just that it didn’t feel that exciting. The ending was the best part but before that, not was relatively slow, and not in the good, deliberate way. Nonetheless, I am not turned off from these new characters completely and would enjoy another outing with them. I’m always interested to see how a younger generation picks up the reins and I think that the franchise could be in good hands with Mckenna Grace and Fin Wolfhard.

I thought Ghostbusters: Afterlife was OK 😐 If you are a fan of the original Ghostbusters films, there are plenty of homages and respect given to those films, while at the same time introducing a new generation of characters. It also has plenty of heart that a story like this needs and deserves. But overall, there is a lack of substance that prevents it from reaching the heights of its widely loved predecessor.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Jason Reitman – Director / Writer
Gil Kenan – Writer
Rob Simonsen – Composer

Mckenna Grace – Phoebe
Fin Wolfhard – Trevor
Paul Rudd – Grooberson
Carrie Coon – Callie
Logan Kim – Podcast
Celeste O’Connor – Lucky
Dan Aykroyd – Ray Stantz
Bill Murray – Peter Venkman
Ernie Hudson – Winston Zeddemore

Juno Review

Juno movie posterSynopsis
When Juno (Ellen Page) gets pregnant unexpectedly, she decides to put her unborn child up for adoption. While searching for adoptive parents, she finds the couple Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman) Loring and befriends them.

Review
I’ve known of Juno since it came out back in 2007. For one reason or another, I never watched it. However, that has now become one of my biggest regrets of the last twelve years. The only time I have finished a film with a similar feeling was after watching Million Dollar Baby the first time. These are character-driven dramas that have left a lasting impact on me as a cinephile and it’s movies like these that helped influence me to become a movie blogger. If you should take one thing away from this review, it’s that you need to go see Juno immediately if you haven’t seen it at all.

Some movies have characters who are bland and paper-thin, getting very little development or existing only to further the main characters’ story. Other movies have over-the-top characters that feel larger-than-life. However, the best movies are those that have characters the audience can relate to and and connect with. Juno creates these connections with ease. I might not be a woman or know anything about how it feels to be pregnant but I still was able to feel a connection to Juno. Her struggle with her uncertainty, her love for her family, and her feelings to genuinely do what is right are still emotions that I can relate to. To say that I was able to sympathize with a pregnant, teenage girl as an adult male is a true testament to how well written the script by Diablo Cody is.

While a large part of this connectivity comes from the thoughtful, well-written script, another portion comes from Ellen Page as the titular Juno. As early as the first line, she instantly captures your attention and had me laughing. I mean, can you think of a better opening line than “Shut your frickin’ gob!’? From there, she doesn’t let off the charm. From now on, when I think of perfect castings, Ellen Page as Juno will be one of my top examples.

Although I have spent a good chunk of this review so far talking about Ellen Page as Juno, almost all of the same things can be said for the rest of the cast. Late 2000s awkward teen go-to Michael Cera, in one of his first movie roles alongside Superbad, gives a fantastic performance. JK Simmons and Allison Janney as Juno’s father and step-mother respectively are great as her support during this uncertain time in her life. Jason Bateman is more of a comedy actor to me but his dramatic performance as Mark Loring might be one of his best performances I’ve seen. And as always, Jennifer Garner nails her part.

This film is a drama at its core but there is plenty of humor sprinkled throughout. As I said, from literally the first line I was laughing. Ellen Page and Michael Cera bear the brunt of the comedy responsibilities but there are some funny moments from Olivia Thirlby as Juno’s best friend Leah. JK Simmons has some great one-liners as well. The humor may not be laugh-out-loud funny but at the same time, it doesn’t need to be. It’s just the right amount of wit to help connect to the characters and still remain affectionate.

But honestly, Juno‘s greatest strength is how it presents teen pregnancy without becoming preachy. It seems today that teen pregnancy often comes with a negative connotation. Early in the film, Juno decides to get an abortion but then decides against it. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, this film doesn’t make an argument for one or the other and it doesn’t demonize nor praise Juno for being a pregnant teen. Instead, it looks at Juno as a pregnant teen and and simply tells a clever and heartfelt story.

I thought Juno was GREAT 😀 The fantastic script is complemented by great casting all around and offers one of the most sincerest stories about teen pregnancy in cinema. If you’ve never seen this before, please be better than me. See it as soon as you can.

Juno was recommended by Kim of Tranquil Dreams.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Jason Reitman – Director
Diablo Cody – Writer
Mateo Messina – Composer

Ellen Page – Juno MacGuff
Michael Cera – Paulie Bleeker
Jennifer Garner – Vanessa Loring
Jason Bateman – Mark Loring
Allison Janney – Bren MacGuff
JK Simmons – Mac MacGuff
Olivia Thirlby – Leah