Today: July 9, 2024

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

There was a time when bustin’ made me feel good. I grew up borderline-obsessed with the first two films, and would rush to consume any new Ghostbusters media – the 2009 video game, the 2016 reboot, the 2019 retrospective doc…It was like catnip to me. Call it blind nostalgia, but I remained loyal to those schlubby scientists and their paranormal adventures. Then Afterlife came in 2021. It was a sweet film, sure, but fundamentally misunderstood what Ghostbusters is by making it so emotional and serious. Let’s not forget, the first film was a glorified SNL sketch that saw Dan Aykroyd getting head from a ghost so good his eyes rolled back.. 

There’s no easy way to say it – Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, Afterlife’s sequel, is more of the same, and a bloated mess to boot. Packing its two-hour runtime with characters (including a scientist inexplicably and tediously played by James Acaster) and plot threads, the film is dull and uninvolving. There are some nice busting sequences including an opening chase through the streets of New York that expands the team’s arsenal with a gunner seat for ECTO-1 and drone traps. But for each sequence like this, there’s twenty minutes of fluff. 

The highlight is Aykroyd, who brings as much gravitas to Ray Stantz’s paranormal jargon as ever. You can see the joy in his eyes, and it’s quite endearing to see him having such a good time – he’s certainly having more fun than Acaster who’s trademark despondent persona is jarringly out-of-place in a Ghostbusters film. As for other returning cast members, Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts are on decent form and Bill Murray is his usual self – phoning it in for the paycheck, but perhaps with a little more cheer than usual. William Atherton’s return as Walter Peck offers up some nice fan service. 

But beyond these familiar faces, Frozen Empire often doesn’t feel like Ghostbusters. While the previous film was a two hour exercise in the Leonardo-DiCaprio-pointing-meme with its onslaught of references before going needlessly schmaltzy and sentimental, Frozen Empire is just as soulless and forgettable. The jokes don’t land, there are far too many characters to have enough time to connect with anyone, and the plot is so tediously meandering that it becomes a chore to get through. Returning newcomer (does that make sense?) Mckenna Grace – who impressed in Afterlife brings the heart once again, and Aykroyd brings the soul, but nobody else brings anything and the result is a lifeless, monotonous affair that doesn’t even come close to recapturing the glory days of ghostbusting.
Ghostbusters needs to stop. Frozen Empire is a bloated mess that will do nothing for old fans and certainly not inspire new ones.

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