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  • Nate Adams

'Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire' review: Perhaps it’s time to put this franchise on ice


Courtesy of Sony

 

“Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” is another chilly legacy sequel that, rather than attempt to spruce up the franchise, plays all the greatest hits to drum up cheap nostalgia. And if you’re looking for callbacks to the 1984 original some 40 years later, then writers Gil Kenan and Jason Reitman have you covered. You want to see the original logo open the movie? Or a new spin on Dr. Vankman’s ESP test? Look no further. There’s even a CGI rendered version of the Slimer who pops in and out of the movie when it needs to remind audiences why they cherished the original. Though 2021’s “Afterlife” had some spirit, taking the action away from New York City to a small Oklahoma locale was a nice touch, “Frozen Empire” doesn’t so much propel the series forward, it just unloads mountains of convoluted lore and exposition (Kumail Nanjiani is a firemaster??) to the point of exhaustion. 


“Afterlife” introduced us to the daughter (Carrie Coon) and grandkids (Finn Wolfhard and Mckenna Grace) of the late Egon Spengler who accepted the call to become Ghostbusters and they brought along Paul Rudd’s Gary as the patriarchal father-figure because why not. Now, it’s two years later, and the Spangler clan has relocated to New York City and have made a decent living zapping up paranormal entities roaming the streets. On one hand, the film wastes no time throwing us back into the world of ghostbusting, but on the other, it takes a while to fully establish the big, bad ghoul who will eventually put the lead characters, and the city, in grave danger. Not to mention several subplots involving paranormal investigators and the emergence of a ghost that Phoebe befriends feels like nothing more than a buffer in a film with too much already going on. 


This time, the threat revolves around an artifact that has imprisoned an entity capable of unleashing a second ice age (“the death chill”). It’s a good thing Nadeem (Nanjiani) discovered the item while cleaning out his grandmother's basement (he was looking for Pop Tarts) or else there would be no plot for this movie. Of course, we’re told how dangerous and otherworldly this creature is thanks to a historian played by Patton Oswalt, but it doesn’t become a legitimate problem until late in the third act and, by this point, we’re left to wonder how much gas is left in the tank. 


Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, and, yes, even William Atherton are roped back into the fold and I’m sure their paychecks were heavy, because, aside from a cheeky Aykroyd, none of them, especially Murray who’s screen time is far too short, look particularly thrilled to be donning their old uniforms. There are some fun moments that are hard to resist (admittedly, I was amused by the Slimer and the tiny Stay Puft Marshmallow Men) and there’s always something sentimental about watching iconic characters suit up for the big climax, but “Frozen Empire” never shakes the feeling of just going through the motions.


Grade: C 


GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE is now playing in theaters.  


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