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Review: Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024)

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024)

Directed by: Gil Kenan

Premise: A follow up to Ghostbusters: Afterlife. The Spengler family has relocated to New York City and restarted the paranormal control business. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) discovers a haunted artifact that may contain an evil deity.

What Works: Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire continues the story of the Spengler family while bringing back the classic Ghostbusters cast. The main focus is on the new characters introduced in Afterlife. Frozen Empire makes better use of Carrie Coon, who plays the mother, and she has a likeable rapport with Paul Rudd who plays her other half and a fellow Ghostbuster. The strongest element of Frozen Empire is the subplot of Phoebe, played by Mckenna Grace. She is now a teenager and stuck between childhood and adulthood, unable to participate in ghostbusting even though she’s the most capable member of the cast. Phoebe develops a friendship with a ghost (Emily Alyn Lind) and their relationship has some real moments. Frozen Empire also incorporates the legacy characters. Afterlife was sort of Egon Spengler’s story, providing the character an epilogue, and Frozen Empire brings forward Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and makes him a major player in the action. Like the previous film, Frozen Empire mixes scares and comedy and the movie is frequently funny. The film attempts to develop the Ghostbusters concept, asking what happens to ghosts after they’ve been busted, and the creature design is interesting.

What Doesn’t: Frozen Empire exacerbates the flaws of Afterlife. The main problem is the surplus of characters. Between the cast introduced in Afterlife, all the returning legacy characters, and the new people introduced here, there are just too many characters and not enough screentime to go around. Each of the subplots gets truncated. No one has enough room to breathe and develop their story. The legacy characters in particular feel extraneous. Aside from Ray no one really has anything to do; they’re just here for the sake of the brand. The plotting is top heavy. A lot of storytelling parts have to fall into place to unleash the main villain and the payoff doesn’t justify the buildup. Frozen Empire also suffers from familiarity. Every Ghostbusters movie replays the same scenario. An artifact heralds an invasion by an evil deity and it is up to the Ghostbusters to save the world. Frozen Empire also borrows from superhero films with the climax revolving around a beam of light shooting up into the sky. It’s all very rote and missing the ingenuity that made the original Ghostbusters interesting in the first place.

Bottom Line: Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is entertaining enough to be passable. There are good characters in here but the story is pulled in too many different directions and it all feels very generic. If there’s going to be more of these, the filmmakers have to shake up the formula.

Episode: #990 (March 31, 2024)