Ghostbusters Frozen Empire

Directed By Gil Kenan

Starring – Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Mckenna Grace

The Plot – The Spengler family returns to where it all started, the iconic New York City firehouse, to team up with the original Ghostbusters, who’ve developed a top-secret research lab to take busting ghosts to the next level. But when the discovery of an ancient artifact unleashes an evil force, Ghostbusters new and old must join forces to protect their home and save the world from a second Ice Age.

Rated PG-13 for supernatural action/violence, adult language and suggestive references.



You can call into question many elements of the sometimes underwhelming and uninspired execution of “Frozen Empire”, but its ambition isn’t among them, returning to New York City to supplant what feels like the single biggest installment of the franchise, both in conflict and expansive world-building. On the former, while its materializing does take far too long, it feels like more citizens of the city are at grave danger than ever before, and between the lack of experience with the new Ghostbusters, and the rust on the fenders of the older generation of Ghostbusters, it truly surmizes a gripping and intense challenge that feels bigger and badder than any of them have ever faced, especially while reveling in enough paranormal activity to light up Dan Akroyd’s eyes with the fiery passion that he helped co-create with Harold Ramis, back in the franchise’s early days. As for the world-building, the technology of the team might be my single favorite aspect of the entire film, combining toy electronics with paranormal weaponry, all for uses that feel freshly innovative and full of fun factor. This time around, Jason Reitman, son of series original helmer Harold, to which the film is dedicated to, steps down for Gil Kenan, this time around, and not only does Kenan maintain the rich combination of humor and horror that the fanbase appreciates so fondly, but also a family dynamic on-screen in generations young and old that carry with it all of the honor and prestige of this now 40-year franchise. Kenan broke through the big scene with his 2006 family horror hit, “Monster House”, and it’s easy to see the parallels between the two films, especially here because “Frozen Empire” allows him to get as strange and crazy in ways that he could only dream of with his debut hit, and while a Reitman has always been present for the duration of this franchise, I feel that Kenan seamlessly filled the immense pair of shoes that would cripple weaker directors, serving as a calling card for a possible third installment of the franchise, should that ever be greenlit. But while many things change about this second or fourth chapter, depending which way you choose to approach it, the one thing that stays the same is the soul that Grace unloads to the engagement that the film benefits greatly from, all while interacting with some of the series most familiar icons. On the surface, Grace’s Phoebe could easily be overlooked, as it’s never her energy or enthusiasm that makes the part, but rather the heart and morbid curiosities within the craft, and in that aspect we bear the only recognizable link to Ramis’ Egon, supplanting a far greater appreciation for her that effortlessly transcends even her most gifted of deliveries, where she’s legitimately playing a character, and not an extension of a big name at the header of the movie’s marketing posters. Akroyd is easily the biggest benefactor of the returning veterans, and it’s clear within every scene that his passionate excitement for the character and the world he helped create refuses to wither, in turn bringing full circle the wacky, zany old man with an abundance of knowledgeable guidance, whom we all knew he would eventually grow to be. Lastly, while the action is limited throughout, I found the opening set piece inside of the Ectomobile to present an alluring urgency and intensity to the proceedings, in ways that sadly was never matched again. This is when Kenan and cinematographer Eric Steelberg really feel on top of their game, as the combination of unique angles, razor sharp editing and quick-thinking dialogue offers a compelling reintroduction to the characters we’ve been without for three long years, all with evidential evolution in the family’s capabilities that echo a confidence factor among their growing dynamic.


It may have taken one passionate film in between, but my fears about “Afterlife” finally surmized in “Frozen Empire”, giving way to a littany of issues that made this the weakest of the four films in the Reitman Universe. For starters, shameless fan service is on overload here, feeding to familiarities in ways that rarely feel justified or earned in the depths of the scenes they’ve accompanied, but also diminishing the growth and impact that these new characters have on the proceedings, especially considering the film looks so often to the past that it finds comfort in. Little things like musical cues from the original 1984 “Ghostbusters” are fine enough, but when it comes to wedging in every character familiarity, like Walter Peck, Slimer or an army of little Stay Puft Marshamallow men, then it points to my biggest issues with nostalgia porn, in that the characters are there to merely make an appearance, instead of adding anything of depth or insight to their summoning. This leads to my next issue with the film, as the script is a tedious mess and blundering bore to the sequencing of the storytelling, both in the single longest first act of the year, for what feels like 75% of the movie until the conflict is firmly established, and abundance of undercooked subplots stacking underwhelming dividends for what feels like forceful justification for so many characters being involved, but being given nothing of substance to actually do. The biggest of these disappointments is easily in Finn Wolfhard or Carrie Coon, who in “Afterlife” were such a vital part to the growth and integrity of the team, but here solemly float into the background of many scenes, only to be forgotten with the rest of the overcrowded ensemble that make up this picture. It’s normal to introduce a new character or two to a sequel, but when you’re already combining two generations of films within this world, the need to indulge further in a Kumail Nanjiani, Patton Oswald, or Emily Alyn Lind doesn’t feel necessary, and it leaves little opportunity for anyone to match the appreciated efforts of Grace and Akroyd, who work overtime in standing out above the white noise of diminishing cameos. The script is also faulty for its ineffective brand of humor, which elicits the try-hard emphasis in every scene that it accompanies, leaving these predictable punchlines with little to no spontaneity in their deliveries. In fact, so much of the material feels rehearsed and wooden that it’s tough to even buy in to the magnitude of the conflicts the characters are conveying, and with an overall lack of urgency or vulnerability towards a conflict that should feel universal, it feels like our heroes are going through the motions, until they’re absolutely forced to contend with this C.G-overloaded evil spirit that finally arrives with less than a half hour left in the movie’s run time. This late arrival could be with the character’s contending with so many aforementioned subplots that overwhelm and overstuff the engagement, or lost in translation to suspect editing where at least four memorable instances within the movie’s trailers are nowhere to be found during this engagement. Is a better film lurking somewhere on the cutting room floor? We may never know, but some abrupt and even prolonged developments do give way to something feeling obviously excluded from the fray, and with so much fighting for leverage of attention within a 110 minute run time, something was bound to be sacrificed, but it seemed unwise to do it to the scenes you’re advertising to the general public.

“Ghostbusters Frozen Empire” is the ghost of a franchise whose best days now feel far behind it. Though aided tremendously by another star-making standout from McKenna Grace, as well as scope and scale that breed ambition, the film is ultimately disposable in the lack of focus that underwhelm and undercut so many characters and story arcs continuously fighting for attention, in turn supplanting the coldly mediocre kind of cash grab that I initially expected with “Afterlife”, but this time made so much worse by the dream team ensemble that adorn its once limitless potential.

My Grade: 6/10 or C-

4 thoughts on “Ghostbusters Frozen Empire

  1. Excellent review! It feels like the nostalgia wave is beginning to crest and run its course. I’m excited to see all the old characters, but not at the cost of a good script. I think you are correct that there are just too many characters, causing some of them to be minimalized. Hopefully if there is a third installment, they let the new cast shine and only use the originals sparingly. That said, I am definitely going to check this one out!

  2. Fair review…can’t remember what you gave afterlife for comparative purposes. I’m hoping to see this Tuesday, so we’ll see how it goes…

  3. Bummer! I was personally so floored by how incredible Afterlife was that I swore I was onboard with any Ghostbusters movies moving forward: sold immediately. Your review paints my worst fears about how this was gonna go. Also the difference between fan service and nostalgia porn must have been staggering. And the fact that some advertised action wasn’t to be found is a huge pet peeve of mine. Thanks for setting my expectations right before watching.

  4. Man I was hoping this would turn out a little better. I will still get the kids to watch it. Thank you for taking the time to review all these movies.

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