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Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

Platform(s): Movie
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: March 22, 2024


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Movie Review - 'Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire'

by Adam Pavlacka on March 22, 2024 @ 12:53 a.m. PDT

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.

"Ghostbusters: Afterlife" was a welcome surprise that bridged the gap between the original movies and a new generation of heroes. Although the threat underlying the story was a bit of a retread (think of it as the Ghostbusters version of "The Force Awakens"), in the end "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" did a great job of bringing in new blood while also paying its respects to the past. With "Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire," the story tries to go in a new direction, but ends up feeling unfocused.

Set a few years after "Afterlife," "Frozen Empire" picks up in New York City. The Spenglers have moved back into the old firehouse and have resumed working as the Ghostbusters. McKenna Grace is once again the star of the show as child prodigy/Ghostbuster, Phoebe Spengler. This time around, the challenge is adjusting to the new situation and realizing that she's still just a kid. Smart? Most certainly. But she's still inexperienced (she pulls a proton gun on another official).

The movie tries to make Phoebe's issues the central story arc of the film, but that happens at the expense of ghostbusting hijinks. After opening with an initial chase through downtown New York, we don't actually see much ghostbusting. We get plenty of exposition. We're told about the big bad. We get some fun references for old school fans. But chasing and trapping ghosts? Not as much as you'd expect.

If the story had gone all-in on Phoebe's story, it probably would have worked, but either the director or screenwriter obviously had second thoughts about taking that risk because "Frozen Empire" takes the kitchen sink approach and throws in way too much.

I'm as much a Real Ghostbusters fan as I am a fan of the original movie, so it was great to see Slimer make an appearance. At the same time, he's wasted screen time. Slimer isn't core to the story. He's just fan service. I could say the same about the return of Lucky and Podcast. They were both integral characters in "Afterlife," but they're just present for the sake of being present in "Frozen Empire." Cutting them out would have left more time to focus on the core cast members. That said, I'm making an exception for the adorably insane mini-Pufts. They can be wherever they want to be.

Besides McKenna Grace, the other standout in the film is Kumail Nanjiani as Nadeem Razmaadi. Razmaadi is a lifetime slacker who brings about the near destruction of the world after trying to sell off his dead grandma's possessions. If it weren't for Nanjiani's impeccable comic timing, the character of Razmaadi could have easily come off as a jerk. Instead, he ends up as more of an adorable mess. "Frozen Empire" would have been a better film if it had more of a focus on Grace and Nanjiani and cut some of the unnecessary supporting characters.

Much like "Ghostbusters 2," "Frozen Empire" tries to put more focus on the interpersonal conflicts than the supernatural, but unlike "Ghostbusters 2," the primary villain has no personality. For all of that movie's missteps, Vigo the Carpathian was memorable. The frost demon in "Frozen Empire" just exists and doesn't really become a threat until the third act. At the point, the demon is an uber-threat, with a climax that is equal parts exciting (because it focuses on Grace and Nanjiani) and disappointing because it spends time highlighting all the other cast members and then immediately sidelines them.

As a movie, "Frozen Empire" isn't bad so much as it lacks focus. If it had cut some of the fat and really dug deep on one or two story threads — instead of a half-dozen — "Frozen Empire" could have been a much better movie.

So how does it compare to the rest of the franchise? Here are the totally unofficial, official Ghostbusters movie rankings.

  1. Ghostbusters (1984)
  2. Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)
  3. Ghostbusters II (1989)
  4. Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024)
  5. Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016)

If you're a hardcore Ghostbusters fan, "Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire" is still worth checking out on the big screen, but most viewers are probably better off waiting for it to arrive on streaming.

Score: 6.0/10

"Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire" is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 1 hour and 49 minutes. It is showing in standard theaters and in IMAX.

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