Who Exactly Are You Going To Call?

I saw Ghostbusters: Afterlife. I liked most of it, but as a critic and as a Ghostbusters fan there was some stuff that rubbed me the wrong way, and so I’ve come to the internet to write it down.

Michael Reaves has strong feelings about Ghostbusters: Afterlife

You want spoilers? Cuz I got spoilers!

A lot of things in this film are both a strength and a weakness. Almost every relationship in the film seems surface level. Nobody connects in any real way except the young girl Phoebe and Egon’s ghost, which they do without any words. The mother is physically there, but not emotionally. She is both disinterested and uninteresting. She is blasé, takes no interest in her kids, and takes every opportunity to tell them (and everyone else) what a terrible parent Egon was. Which is weird for fans of the Ghostbusters and also seems like bad parenting maybe?

The ghost plot is a rehash of the first film, so not much original here and an overabundance of member-berries for old nerds like me. So if that is something you’re looking for, they got you covered – everything from Slimer 2.0 to Stay Puft 2.0 to “who you gonna call” and “are you a god?” I did like the Evo Shandor stuff and mossssst of it worked. I really liked that J.K. Simmons only got one line but the Evo in a box thing was a bit confusing, and I don’t understand why the terror dogs were just sitting around on the sidelines while Gozer was getting smoked by particle throwers.

The sudden deus ex machina of the original Ghostbusters was another strength and weakness. I mean, we all want to see those characters again and what they are up to, but showing up so suddenly to take agency away from the other characters legitimately took me out of the story. It kind of ruined the movie to be perfectly honest? That said, I thought their characters were on point and well-scripted. And I still have mixed feelings about CG-resurrection of Harold Ramis, which I thought they milked about 40% too much in the final scenes. But there were tears, so yeah, they got me.

Also, why, OH WHY did Egon lead Phoebe to release Vinz Clortho from the ghost trap? Didn’t that put them all in terribly deadly danger? I guess maybe it was part of his master plan but jeez, if you can move chess pieces and lamps, how about a pencil on a piece of paper?

The Elmer Bernstein music cues, identical to the original, brought back many memories, what with the original Ghostbusters being one of my most-watched films of all time, and I liked the design of Slimer, er, I mean MUNCHER and how well the animators pulled off its facial features.

Perhaps the thing Ghostbusters: Afterlife was most successful at was getting me to want to watch the original again, as well as The Real Ghostbusters cartoon…especially the “Egon’s Ghost” episode, which is excellent.

What other Real Ghostbusters episodes are excellent, since I have you here? Sounds like a great time to make a top 6 list!

  • Collect Call of Cathulhu, not just because they fight Cthulhu, but a well-crafted story by Michael Reaves.
  • Mr. Sandman, Dream Me A Dream One of the entities that causes people to fall asleep and dream goes rogue and tries to put the whole world to sleep so there will be no more wars or conflict. Dreams come to life and IT’S WHACKED!
  • Ragnarok and Roll – a jilted lover tries to bring about the end of the world, written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • When Hallowe-en Was Forever: Samhain, the spirit of Hallowe’en, stops the clocks so that Hallowe’en will last forever. Written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • Slimer, is That You? Egon and Slimer have their brains swapped, with hilarious results.
  • and of course Egon’s Ghost, in which an accident ends up sending Egon to the netherworld. The guys have to go in and rescue him. Includes a terror dog!

Honorable mentions: Knock Knock; The Boogieman Cometh; Night Game; The Thing in Mrs. Faversham’s Attic; Citizen Ghost; and Take Two – the crew is called to California to help make the Ghostbusters Movie

Most of these are available to stream somewhere or other

Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Neon City

Stark (Michael Ironside) is a rough-and-tumble ex-cop turned bounty hunter and the attractive young Reno (Vanity) is his bounty, which he must take on a bus with a rag-tag cast of characters through the Outlands to get to Neon City. On the way they must weather toxic storms and deadly solar events as well as attacks by mutant raiders. Each of the passengers have their secret or are connected to Stark in some way (former friend, former wife…that sort of thing).

It’s a journey and a story not unlike the 1939 western Stagecoach, but with shades of Mad Max and neither the competence or inventiveness of either of those films. The cast and characters stand out, but not much else. Certainly not the dialogue, direction, cinematography or sets.

Tropes: bitter enemies become lovers; one of the party is an impostor; improvised laser; gunpoint standoff; gunpoint standoff involving a hostage

Toren’s rating: 4/10

Now back to Toren’s Post-Apocalyptic Movie Guide

Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: A Quiet Place Part II

Taking place immediately after the events of A Quiet Place, the family leaves their burning home to find a new one, and accidentally finds a former family friend who has lost everything, but has a good hiding spot from the echolocating killer aliens.

A radio signal tips off that there are more survivors, and the daughter with the hearing aid/sonic weapon wants to find them and save the world, so she runs off by herself. Mom convinces family friend to bring her back and dangerous adventures occur.

Good acting, good characters, decent writing, and the continued tension will keep you rapt until the end, which doesn’t take long as it’s a refreshingly short film. A bit predictable in places but overall quite enjoyable.

Tropes: flashback explains origin of apocalypse; survivors work against eachother; booby traps; black man is killed; skeletons cause jump scare; monsters weakness discovered accidentally

Toren’s Rating: 7/10

Now back to Toren’s Post-Apocalyptic Movie Guide

Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Finch

Robot maker Tom Hanks has survived a land-waste-laying solar flare and the ensuing societal collapse. He’s old and sick but he has a dog that needs to be cared for, so he builds a robot and they take a road trip to escape a superstorm.

More of the same old same old, Tom Hanks does Tom Hanks which is not a complaint, but this time with friendly robots AND a dog! A bit heavy-handed in places but also not a typical Hollywood ending. Not very cerebral, and not very exciting either despite a few interesting moments. Pretty PG affair overall with some added coughing up blood. Kind of needed a bad guy.

Tropes: robot learns to be human; hope epitomized in tiny animal; booby-trapped snack

Toren’s rating: 6.8/10

Now back to Toren’s Post-Apocalyptic Movie Guide

Omega Doom (1996) Post Apocalyptic Movie Review

After a robot war AND nuclear apocalypse, only various models of robots are left, and they are very concerned about a rumored return of humans who plan to take back the world with a rumored stockpile of guns. Rutger Hauer, a mysterious stranger introduced as the eponymous character in the opening credits, rolls into town with a mission. The mission is revealed at the end but, like the rest of this movie, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

The robots in the town consist of a gang of ‘droids’ – who look like people but make mechanical servo noises when they walk or turn their heads – and a gang of ‘roms’ who look like humans, specifically rejects from the Matrix (three years before the Matrix, mind you). And also a bartender and bodiless head, who all look like humans. Basically everyone’s a replicant but with circuitry and machinery under their skin. They breathe, drink, and presumably poop.

Of course Omega Doom pits the factions against one another and wins a series of energy knife/boomerang duels. One of them wounds a robot so badly we can see the chromagreen fabric that never ended up having special effects added. Overall, pretty dreadful writing, pacing, and the actings not so hot either.

Tropes: Old West style duels but with throwing knives not guns; pitting gangs against eachother; fisheye lens used for wide shots; flashbacks; nuclear winter; literature quote before the action starts

Toren’s rating: 4/10

Now go back to Toren’s Post-Apocalyptic Movie Guide

Movies I’ve Seen – Summer 2021 Edition

all ratings out of 10….

Nomadland – 8

The Marksman – 5

The Neverending Story – 7

The Suicide Squad – 7

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) – 6

Pig – 7

Bullitt – 6

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood – 7

Colossus: The Forbin Project – 6

Live Free or Die Hard – 5

The Hitman’s Bodyguard – 6

Black Widow – 7

Samurai Rebellion – 9

The Tomorrow War – 5

In the Heights – 7

A Quiet Place II – 7

The Shootist – 6

No Blade of Grass (1970) Post Apocalyptic Movie Review

Pollution somehow causes a virus that kills grains and so the world begins to starve.
Some countries, including Britain, may or may not plan to exterminate a large portion of their population with nerve gas so that the whole country doesn’t starve to death. As society breaks down around them, a family led by an ex-military with an eyepatch and various tagalongs escape the city and head for a relative’s farm where I guess for some reason they aren’t worried about the grass blight.

More an apocalyptic than post-apocalyptic movie, but civilization goes to pot relatively quickly and there’s a biker gang in Nazi Viking accoutrements so I’ll give it a pass.

The conceit of over-saturated, fragmented flash-forwards doesn’t much help this heavy-handed narrative, and the whole film looks very cheap, but, refreshingly, the children don’t do anything too stupid and are mostly in the background.

Tropes: trigger-happy frenemy; off-screen cannibalism; soldiers mutiny; unlimited ammo; pregnant lady gives birth; coughing gives away hiding spot; gang rape; guy with no depth perception is still a good shot

Toren’s rating: 5.75/10

Go to Toren’s Post-Apocalyptic Movie Guide

No Blade of Grass (1970) — Contains Moderate Peril

Hardware (1990) Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review

A military self-repairing robot is scavenged from the wasteland and a man (Mo) who fears commitment brings it to his non-girlfriend (Jill) where it comes to life and chases her around the apartment.

This world has the trappings of a post-apocalyptic film (radiation, crappy outfits, cyborg hand) but there is a government and the woman’s apartment building has all the amenities (electricity, a security system, hot water that is more reliable than in my pre-apocalyptic building). A merchant in the first act finds out the robot’s weakness and then Mo learns it (it’s water) but in the climax of the film Jill learns it rather coincidentally. At some point in the film the robot skull’s US flag paint job goes away.

I finally finished watching this after years of not making it through the first half – quitting around the time the slovenly peeping tom neighbor invades the woman’s apartment. The dialogue is trite, and with very few exceptions, the actions of all the characters have zero bearing on how the story plays out which makes for very monotonous fare, despite the pedestrian attempts at avante garde cinematography and special effects.

Tropes: perverted neighbor; little person is a result of radiation; radio DJ exposition; shower lovin’; thermal vision sex scene; phone is destroyed to help the plot along

Toren’s rating: 4.2/10

Now back to Toren’s Post Apocalyptic Movie Guide

Love And Monsters (2020) Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review

After an attempt to thwart an asteroid impact backfires, rocket chemicals spray the land turning everyday creatures into giant monsters. Joel is separated from his ladyfriend and spends 7 years in a bunker before he decides to take the 7 day journey in monster territory to reunite. En route he overcomes his paralyzing fear and his terrible aim, meets some new friends and bonds with a dog.

The monsters and settings were well-designed and the world was fun to inhabit. I liked that the ending wasn’t schmaltzy. It wasn’t a ‘rescue the damsel’ situation but neither did it turn 180 with the ‘men are incompetent’ trope. Meanwhile, was expecting some closure on the dog’s red dress.

Tropes: passing on a treasured keepsake; radio stops working at dramatically convenient moments; dropping the grenade;

Toren’s rating: 7/10

Now back to Toren’s Post-Apocalyptic Movie Guide

Waterworld (1995) Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review

Kevin Costner is an ‘icthyo sapiens’ with webbed toes and gills who wanders an endless ocean trying to get by. He gets caught up in a battle between jet ski marauders known as Smokers and a floating settlement that harbours a child with a tattoo that may be a map to the mythical “Dryland.” Of course he escapes with the help of the child and her surrogate mom. At first he’s a complete dick to them both but through the trials and tribulations of eluding the Smokers and their merciless leader Dennis Hopper they become a dysfunctional family.

This film has reprehensible hair as only Hollywood (and Italian cinema) could hope to achieve, sketchy makeup (nobody’s buying that gouged eye socket), 2-dimensional dialogue, and hokey action that made me laugh out loud, but it does have rich worldbuilding in the form of consistent wardrobe and amazing set pieces.

Tropes: stoic lone wolf of few words; eccentric inventor; villain has eye patch; heroine offers her body as payment; each explosion bigger than the last

Toren’s rating: 4/10

Now back to Toren’s Post-Apocalyptic Movie Guide https://torenatkinson.com/2014/08/09/post-apocalyptic-movie-guide/