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Ghostbusters: Afterlife | Hawkeye, Episode 4

Ghosts, gifts and expectations.


MOVIE REVIEW /// Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Movie summary: When a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind. (IMDb)

I'm going to admit right up-front that I really, really like the original Ghostbusters movie; the second is decent; and I haven't seen the 2016 version because nothing I saw or read about it made me interested enough in seeing it. So, out of the three Ghostbusters movie I have seen, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is definitely the worst of them, and by a fair distance.

Maybe 'worst' feels a bit harsh and 'least good' would be better as there's nothing really bad about this movie, but there's nothing particularly great or special about it either. This is a perfectly serviceable movie and there's not much else to say because the movie's own premise restricts the kind of story you can tell in the first place, especially one that repeats the story of the first movie again.

Yep, as much as people want to compare The Force Awakens to A New Hope in the Star Wars series, Afterlife is a much closer copy of the original Ghostbusters movie, just relocating the action out of New York and into the countryside, and substituting the all-adult cast for a group of kids. Gozer is back, so are the 'helldogs', and so are many other references to the first film.

I've seen some people criticise Afterlife for shameless, nostalgic pandering, but I think it really only tips over from being fan pleasing into fan service a couple of times and a lot of the other references make sense as this is effectively Ghostbusters 3, acknowledging the events that happened in New York to the original team - it'd be stranger for there to not be some mention of what would've been a world-changing event.

The problem is that most of the references do only work functionally and don't really add anything to the movie - as someone who has already admitted to loving the first film, a lot of them just didn't do anything for me, feeling like common sense inclusions rather than anything either celebratory of what came before or doing anything imaginative or new this time around.

That same 'meh' feeling applies to pretty much the whole of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, including the performances. I really like Carrie Coon and Paul Rudd, but even their talents feel under-utilised, as if they were directed to give the most 'grounded', unspectacular performances of their lives - an approach that doesn't really make sense in a movie about a group of kids busting ghosts.

I don't want to sound too critical of it as - again - it's not bad, but there's nothing to really recommend either. Ghostbusters: Afterlife just exists to be another Ghostbusters movie, apparently to also start up the series again if later scenes are to be believed. I get that you might want to take a safety-first approach doing so considering the reverence for the first movie, but you lose what made the original two so enjoyable doing so.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is as inoffensive and unessential a movie as you can imagine - maybe deliberately so to avoid upsetting anyone (read: fragile men) after the female-led 2016 version proved to be divisive. It effectively re-tells the story of the first movie again, except feeling completely blunted this time thanks to the country setting and much younger main cast.

[5/10 - Average]


TV REVIEW /// Hawkeye, Episode 4, "Partners, Am I Right?"

Episode summary: Secrets are revealed and hard truths emerge, culminating in a battle against two opposing forces. (IMDb)

It was while seeing the reactions online to this episode that made me realise how well-written Hawkeye actually is, mimicking Renner's character by making the audience look one way while quietly completing its mission without anyone being any the wiser. In fact, "Partners, Am I Right?" is making me think I might've been a little too hard on the show up to now.

A problem that the MCU has is that the fanbase has grown so large that everyone wants to speculate on where events are heading next, grasping at every straw they can for future possible characters and/or storylines. In reality, the show has very little left to do in the last two episodes and should hopefully turn out just as enjoyable as episodes 3 and 4 have proven to be.

To explain: Clint is staying in New York to clean up all the Ronin-related mess - which is now well on the way to being wrapped up after recovering his sword here to add to the costume recovery previously - and to keep Hailee Steinfeld's Kate Bishop alive. Kate's story is to be accepted as a superhero by her idol, Hawkeye. That's it - all that's essential for this series to have a defined, complete arc and ending.

Maya, the Tracksuit Mafia and her 'Uncle' - the 'big guy' and implied kingpin of crime in New York - still have roles to play, but there's an Echo Disney+ series already lined up, so it's only their business with the Hawkeyes that needs to be resolved here. Then there's Kate's home life which might well be involved in that, but neither Eleanor or Jack need their stories to finish here either, and can easily continue to provide a source of drama further down the line.

You see, the show is called Hawkeye and at least the show understands this even if plenty of people watching don't. From the moment Clint and Kate met, almost all of the best scenes in the series have been the ones they've shared, developing a bond and learning to work together, not the 'fluff' around them that exists because of the superhero/villain-populated world they happen to live in.

Hell, the best sequence in this episode is Kate and Clint having a Christmassy night with each other, including cocktails, decorations, ugly sweaters, a movie marathon and, of course, Clint training Kate how to use a little Christmas tree decoration to hit a tiny target from twenty feet away. Yeah, the fun interactions between Clint's 'please can this be over?' attitude and Kate's 'please can this never end?' enthusiasm are highlights, but this is still a superhero show.

"Partners, Am I Right?" did a lot to assuage my fears about how much needed to be fit into the show because a lot of it would ultimately fall into the category of 'would be nice to know' rather than something essential to Clint or Kate's respective journeys. One of those being me hoping we'll see what happens when a Black Widow takes on a Mockingbird...

"Partners, Am I Right?" continues the quality of the previous episode and provides some great scenes with excellent character work, before topping things off with a rooftop fight that knits the events of the show a little tighter to the big-screen outings of the MCU. Clint's core story moves along nicely too, leaving not all that much remaining to be wrapped up in the last two episodes - which is a very good thing indeed.

[8/10 - Very Good]



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