Ghostbusters: Afterlife (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Jun 27, 2024
  • Format: 4K Ultra HD
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Ghostbusters: Afterlife (4K UHD Review)


Jason Reitman

Release Date(s)

2021 (February 1, 2022)


Ghost Corps/Bron Creative/Columbia Pictures (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
  • Film/Program Grade: B-
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: C+

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (4K Ultra HD)




After the disastrous and controversial reception to 2016’s Ghostbusters (retroactively titled Ghostbusters: Answer the Call), which attempted to move the series in a more improvisational and over-the-top comedic direction, the Ghostbusters franchise was temporarily put on hold while Sony decided what move to make next. The original plans to make multiple Ghostbusters films set in an expanded universe (a la Marvel) were nixed altogether, especially when the box office take for Answer the Call fell well below expectations. Meanwhile, fans were crying out for a return to the dry, sardonic humor of the original two films, with or without the original cast. Unfortunately, by the time Sony decided what direction to go in, Harold Ramis had passed away. In the wake of that, Ivan Reitman handed the directing reins off to his son Jason, who would co-write a new film with Gil Kenan (of Monster House fame) and with Ivan producing.

2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife saw a semi-passing of the torch, while still keeping the remaining original characters on call, promising future entries in a newly-rebooted franchise. Released during the COVID-19 pandemic, Afterlife was successful enough to warrant a second sequel (Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, reviewed here), but it was also chided by critics for its re-use of ideas from the original Ghostbusters (1984) and for providing abundant “fan service.” Despite the detractors, it was mostly well-received by audiences, particularly franchise fans, many of whom felt that the series had returned to its roots for something a little more engaging that also honored the legacy of what had come before.

Many years have passed since the events of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II. The team has dissolved and the former Ghostbusters are mostly estranged from one another. When Egon’s daughter Callie (Carrie Coon), her own daughter Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), and her son Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), receive the news of Egon’s passing, they learn that he’s left them an Oklahoma farmhouse in his will. Struggling financially and recently evicted from their apartment, the family moves in, hoping for a new start. While Trevor is distracted by a local girl, Phoebe discovers that their new house is haunted. Upon befriending her summer school science teacher Gary (Paul Rudd), Phoebe tells him about the haunting, as well as her family’s history. Soon they all stumble upon a plan by Egon to recapture Gozer the Gozerian, who seeks to return to this world for revenge. So it’s up to Gary, Callie, and the kids—who’ve discovered the original ghostbusting equipment in an underground lab on the farm, along with the Ecto-1—to prevent Gozer from succeeding.

Even with its problems, Afterlife is a fun sequel that manages to pull at your heartstrings if you let it. There’s certainly room for improvement, as the condemnations of an overreliance on ideas from the original film are justified. However, there are fine performances from all involved, especially Mckenna Grace and Logan Kim as Podcast, who steal the show entirely. The sequence of Phoebe, Trevor, and Podcast driving around in the Ecto-1 to catch this film’s version of Slimer, named “Muncher,” is by far the most exciting and enjoyable thing in the film. All of these kids are a natural fit here, and nothing ever feels forced. It’s just a shame the adults are sidelined by a romantic subplot and, eventually, succumb to yet another possession by Vinz and Zuul.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife was captured digitally by cinematographer Eric Steelberg (Juno, Ahsoka, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire) in the ARRIRAW codec (at 4.5K) using Arri Alexa LF cameras and Panavision T-Series anamorphic lenses, finished as a 4K Digital Intermediate, and presented theatrically in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Sony’s Ultra HD presentation is encoded on a 66 GB disc and graded for high dynamic range (both HDR10 and Dolby Vision options are included). Though lacking the visual texture of celluloid, the film was composed with depth in mind as open vistas, mountains, buildings, and other objects are carefully-placed in nearly every frame. Detail appears sharp at all times, with great clarity and definition. Blacks are deep, with excellent contrast in shadowy environments, particularly at night. Daytime scenes have a warm glow, but never at the expense of color or texture. The HDR grade widens the spectrum in these areas, especially in the underground mine scenes. Bold greens, pinks, and reds are employed often, and the grading brings as much nuance out of these colors as possible. All in all, this is a fine looking presentation.

The primary audio option is an English Dolby Atmos mix (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible) that widens and expands the soundtrack’s capabilities and delivers a blisteringly effective surround sound experience, full of nuance and subtlety. The height and surround channels are put to extensive use, broadening every action scene, but also giving atmospheric immersion a boost. Subtle sound effects are greatly enhanced, particularly in and around the quiet dirt farm at night, as well as the booming earthquake effects. The lower registers rattle your windows with deep bass, and Rob Simonsen’s score, which re-interprets much of Elmer Bernstein’s work for the original film, is beautifully rendered. It’s a powerhouse Atmos track. Other audio options include English, French, and Portuguese Audio Descriptive Service, French, Spanish, and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitle options include English, English SDH, Cantonese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai.

Sony’s Ultra HD release is a 2-disc set that includes the film in 4K on UHD along with 1080p HD on Blu-ray. There are no extras on the 4K disc itself other than:

  • Previews (HD – 12:24)

To this, the Blu-ray adds the following special features:

  • Summoning the Spirit: Making Ghostbusters: Afterlife (HD – 19:50)
  • The Gearhead’s Guide to Ghostbusters Gadgets (HD – 6:12)
  • Special Effects: The Ghosts of Afterlife (HD – 6:29)
  • Bringing Ecto-1 Back to Life (HD – 4:49)
  • We Got One! Easter Eggs Revealed (HD – 7:49)
  • Ghostbusters: A Look Back (HD – 10:37)
  • A Look Ahead (HD – 3:34)
  • Deleted Scene: Is It Ever Too Late? (HD – 1:24)

These amount to a collection of featurettes that examine select aspects of the production. Reitman and key members of the cast and crew offer their insights, and you get to see glimpses of the filming and work behind-the-scenes. Highlights include a look at the Ghostbusters’ iconic car, various on-screen references to the previous films, and a retrospective on the franchise as a whole that features Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Sigourney Weaver, and Ivan Reitman. You also get a deleted scene, and the aforementioned previews, which include trailers for Spider-Man: No Way Home, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, A Journal for Jordan, Morbius, and Uncharted. A Movies Anywhere Digital Code is included on a paper slip in the packaging.

Though far from perfect, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is an entertaining sequel that introduces a number of fresh new characters, while honoring the past, and taking advantage of a bit of nostalgia in the process. Somewhat more grounded than its follow-up, Frozen Empire, Afterlife also earns points simply by not insulting longtime devotees of the Ghostbusters franchise. Sony’s 4K release delivers the film in excellent A/V quality that should please fans of this film and the UHD format alike.

- Tim Salmons

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