WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, now playing in theaters.
It's safe to say the Star Wars sequel trilogy will go down as one of pop culture's most divisive topics. Many took issue with how the series tried to subvert the lore, especially Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, while others felt J. J. Abrams' movies tried to stick too much to the older films. Now, Ghostbusters: Afterlife has a similarly daunting task in terms of passing the baton in a legacy story. So, as it fixes one of Star Wars' biggest mistakes, it also copies another.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife Has A Better Version of Star Wars' Rey
In The Force Awakens, it became clear Rey was the one who'd get the torch from Luke Skywalker to carry on the Jedi legacy. However, the franchise couldn't decide on her lineage, shifting her from being a nobody to Emperor Palpatine's kin to someone who then needed to adopt the Skywalker name. If felt muddled, losing her sense of identity as it also granted her new powers never hinted at before, fanning the idiotic Mary Sue arguments. And while those were toxic, it can't be hidden how inconsistent and incoherent Rey's story ended up being.
In Afterlife, Phoebe's journey is similar yet streamlined and shows how simplicity can work. She's immediately positioned as the science whiz grandkid of the legendary Egon Spengler. She also schools her teacher, the kooky Gary, on seismic activity. Therefore, when the time comes for her to learn about the paranormal from him and her buddy, Podcast, it makes sense.
She's a fast learner and a genius like Egon, so she can easily use his tools, especially the proton packs and ghost traps. She also has a proper motivation, wanting to show the world she's not meek; thus, she's automatically built as the successor from moment one, which is something Rey's journey struggled to achieve. Phoebe wanting to bring the Ghostbusters back is also seamless, with no shortcuts as to how she becomes the leader. As such, her moment later on with Egon's ghost feels more earned than Rey with Luke as they tried to figure out what the Jedi Order should be moving forward.
Afterlife Makes A Big Mistake With Its Snoke and Emperor Palpatine
However, Afterlife botches the return of its big villains by following the formula of Snoke and Palpatine. Firstly, Ivo Shandor is finally shown, somehow rising to life in his Summerville crypt in the mines. However, it's never revealed how he's alive after so many years. Instead, Gozer cuts him in half as soon as he wakes up, mimicking how Kylo Ren cut Snoke up. It's wasted because fans wanted to learn Shandor's history, how he grew his cult in the '80s and how he became this pawn.
An exchange with Gozer would have had an impact, detailing why and how he grew into an acolyte, how he had a doomsday clock, created the demon pool and built this temple. Instead, his death reminds audiences how they never got to see Snoke realizing he was a tool used by Palpatine for his return, leaving the mystery hanging in an annoying manner.
As for Gozer herself, her return after the first Ghostbusters in the '80s is akin to Palpatine coming back after fans thought he died in Return of the Jedi. Star Wars then forced him back by having him enter his own clone saga, arriving in a decrepit state, only for Rey and Kylo to defeat. It felt inorganic with not much fleshing out. Gozer's resurrection from a hellish dimension follows the same path, lacking development or explanation as to the hiatus. Instead, their return is rushed as they sit with their dogs rather than actively hunt the Ghostbusters in a revenge scheme. This makes Gozer an underwhelming pawn with a repeated, boring mission, forced in for nostalgia's sake when the series had been there and done that already.
To see how one Star Wars' error is fixed and another's repeated, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is in theaters now.
KEEP READING: Ghostbusters: Afterlife Makes the Franchise's Most Popular Ghost Cuter - But Way More Demonic
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