By Chris Dos Santos
21st March 2024

'Ghostbusters' is a franchise that needs no introduction. We have the original two 80s films, the two animated TV show, the 2016 reboot, and now the legacy sequel franchise. 'Afterlife', released during the pandemic, ended up grossing US$204 million worldwide (the lowest in the franchise), which was only US$25 million less than the 2016 film and US$11 million less than 'Ghostbusters II'. Now, 'Ghostbusters' is back in the zeitgeist - and with a much more positive reception than previous attempts, the franchise was again reborn.

After the events of 'Afterlife', the Spengler family - Callie (Carrie Coon, 'Widows', 'Avengers: Infinity War'), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard, Netflix's 'Stranger Things', 2019's 'The Addams Family'), Phoebe (Mckenna Grace, 'Malignant', 'PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie') and summer school teacher Gary (Paul Rudd, 'Ant-Man', 'Anchorman') move to New York and into the Ghostbusters' firehouse. The busting crew are re-established and taking to the streets once again to protect the city from unwanted visitors from the other side. Raymond (Dan Aykroyd, 'The Blues Brothers', 'Pixels') is now working at an antique shop where Nadeem (Kumail Nanjiani, 'Eternals', 'Migration') pawns his grandmother's bronze orb. Unknown to him, that orb was holding an evil ancient sprit with the power to freeze all of New York. Once again, the Spenglers and friends, Podcast (Logan Kim, TV's 'The Walking Dead: Dead City') and Lucky (Celeste O'Connor, 'Madame Web', 'A Good Person'), and the other original Ghostbusters, Peter (Bill Murray, 'The French Dispatch', 'The Jungle Book'), Winston (Ernie Hudson, 'Champions', 'The Basketball Diaries') and Janine (Annie Potts, 'Toy Story' franchise, 'Pretty in Pink'), must all team up or New York will become a Frozen Empire.


'Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire' is a fine addition to the cannon but feels incredibly safe, stuck in the middle. It never reaches the highs of 'Afterlife', largely in part due to just how large this cast is. The original 'Ghostbusters' do not need to be here and it's very apparent some of them straight up don't want to be here (*cough* Bill Murray *cough*), while the new crew who we are still learning to love feel used so sparingly. Podcast and Lucky feel like afterthoughts and are purely here because they were in the first; they have nothing to do. Phoebe is clearly who should be the focus here, but is missing for large chunks and most of her scenes are not with any of the main cast. It feels like we didn't get to spend time with any of the characters for the entire run time. I didn't even get to James Acaster (2021's 'Cinderella') or Patton Oswalt ('80 for Brady', '22 Jump Street') - the film just has too many people that it can't give any of them satisfying screen time.

The humour is the winner here. The MVP award goes to Kumail Najiani - he is the comedic heart of the film. We do get more scenes with the Mini-Pufts from 'Afterlife' and while they are funny, we simply pan over to them for some hijinks and that's it. It's the same with the return of Slimer - he's here and being himself, but again it's just for fan service and doesn't add anything to the film. Having said that, a big complaint of 'Afterlife' was the fan service, and 'Frozen Empire' does do a better job of being its own thing; while the original crew are here and it's New York, this does steer clear from cheap fan service outside of the expected.

'Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire' is a fine addition to the cannon but feels incredibly safe, stuck in the middle. It never reaches the highs of 'Afterlife', largely in part due to just how large this cast is.

The titular 'Frozen Empire' is simply the third act and the film could have benefited from bringing that forward. There are large chunks without any ghostbusting, so a frozen New York could have been a really fun playground, but the film leaves all of that for a third act that only takes place at the fire house. It's also another film where the trailer has a lot of shots they are simply not present in the finale cut.

If 'Ghostbusters' is to continue, it needs to find a new identity. It's there if you look hard enough, but it still feels the need to remind you of the 1984 film. Say what you want about 2016 reboot, but that had a tone of new ideas we hadn't seen before especially in the equipment they use, and I would like to see this franchise inject some more of those ideas and stop bringing in the original guys.

It is still unclear who 'Frozen Empire' is for. It again has moments that are a tad too scary to call it an all-out family film, but then it does have too many family film beats to be for the die-hard fans. Young kids will be confused why they keep showing these old guys, but then new fans will be disappointed by how little they are in it. It falls somewhere in the middle, but never really rises enough to be for either party.

'Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire' is a fine addition to the ever-growing franchise. It fails to reach the heights of 'Afterlife', but it's a fine blockbuster to see and then return your proton pack back to the shelf only to be reminded about it when the next sequel comes out.

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