Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire – Movie Review

Stop, stop, the franchise is already dead

What’s it about?

40 years after the original, 8 years after the reboot, and 3 years after the previous film (which ignored the 2016 reboot and continued the continuity of the original movies), the Ghostbusters are back! The family from the last movie are now in New York being actual Ghostbusters, and the ice-themed monster of the week shows up in a fashion that necessitates the inclusion of the original Ghostbusters. Busting ensues.

What’d we think?

I’ve always been confused by the unearned reverence that people believe that other people hold for Ghostbusters as a franchise. The first movie is great, the second movie is fine (although it really just retreads the original), and I completely understand that there’s an element of nostalgia for the toys and cartoons for people who were there at the time. By the time the 2016 reboot rolled around people weren’t exactly clamouring for more of the franchise, and if they were it would have been for reuniting the original cast instead of the embarrassingly unfunny reboot that was churned out. 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife ignored the reboot and aimed to restart the franchise in the same universe with new characters which worked about as well as you’d expect, being fine at best and ghoulishly tasteless at worst.

The plot is fairly light out of necessity, Kumail Nanjiani (the standout comedic performance in the movie) pawns some of his recently-deceased grandmother’s trinkets to Ray (Dan Akroyd) who’s still a spiritualist crackpot but now running a Spooky Haunted Item Store. One of the trinkets contains the Big Bad Villain, and the new Ghostbusters have to stop him with the help of the original Ghostbusters.

Frozen Empire does a far better job of incorporating elements from the original film than you might expect, and actually does it quite well in a few cases. You’ve got the family from Afterlife running the company, backed financially by Winston (Ernie Hudson) so far, so organic. Ray brings them the spooky trinket – hey, this feels pretty natural so far! Wait, why does Podcast intern for Ray? Remember Podcast? The kid from the small town in the previous movie who has no discernable personality apart from being named Podcast? Hey, why is Finn Wolfhard’s Love Interest from the previous movie now an intern for Winston? How did two kids from the same small town both come to New York in a ghost-adjacent context without their friends knowing? Don’t even worry about it, Bill Murray is now here for some reason aaaand it’s over.

The original movie wasn’t about coming together as a family, it was about a weirdo, a dirtbag, and a nutjob doing grubby extermination work (that also kinda feels like a scam). By the end of Frozen Empire you’ve got about 20 people in Ghostbusters uniforms when you could have just taken Kumail, Patton Oswalt, and Paul Rudd and had them slot into new roles. It’s too serious to be a comedy, makes too many jokes to be scary, and there’s too much focus on family drama. Most of it doesn’t work, but at least there’s so much going on that you’ll be distracted until it’s over.

It really doesn't have much going for it, but it's not terrible. If you're a Ghostbusters fan (you're not, don't lie), you'll like it regardless. Otherwise you can probably give it a miss.
A raconteur by nature and motormouth by trade, the only thing Pete loves more than watching movies is a good debate about movies. He'll argue with anyone about anything, and enjoy it more than is socially acceptable.
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