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Movie Review: 'Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire'

Well, it's better than the trailer.

By Sean PatrickPublished 24 days ago 4 min read
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Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024)

Directed by Gil Kenan

Written by Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan

Starring McKenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Dan Akroyd, Ernie Hudson, Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Bill Murray

Release Date March 22nd, 2024

Published March 22nd, 2024

Recently, I worked out my concerns over the trailer for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire in an article that worried that there were too many stories, too many characters, and a generally overstuffed quality to the movie. My concerns were not entirely unfounded. Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is stuffed to the gills with plot and characters. But, to the credit of director Gil Kenan and co-screenwriter Jason Reitman, do bring all of these characters together well enough. It's not a great movie, but Frozen Empire is better than my worst fears for it. Good enough that I can recommend it, with some minor reservations.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire picks up the story of the Spengler Family, Egon's daughter, Callie (Carrie Coon) and her two kids, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), the oldest, and Phoebe (McKenna Grace), the genius, as they take on ghosts in New York City. Oh, and Gary (Paul Rudd), is also there. They are the Ghostbusters and we join them as they are chasing what looks like a flying electric eel. Property damage and other such mayhem ensues and it leads to Phoebe getting kicked off the team, at least until she's 18.

As this is happening, the rest of the plot is unfolding at Ray's supernatural things shop. Ray, now apparently acting as the guardian for Podcast (Logan Kim), is buying magical items when a customer named Nadeem Razmaadi (Kumail Nanjiani) who is selling a deeply cursed item. It's an ancient ball that Ray theorizes is some kind of prison for a remarkably evil entity. Ray decides to turn the item over to Winston (Ernie Hudson) who, while bankrolling the new Ghostbusters, is also building out new ways to capture and contain malevolent spirits.

It's perfect timing actually, for Winston's effort as the old containment unit is struggling. The walls of the Ghostbusters headquarters, the old fire station, have been shaking and cracking as it seems the spirits are trying to escape back into the world. Before they can begin to transfer the spirits to the new facility however, the big bad of Frozen Empire is released via the accidental actions of Phoebe, Podcast, and Ray. They went to visit a librarian, played by Patton Oswalt, with a specialty in ancient languages and he uses an old recording that unintentionally lets loose an evil demon.

There is more complicated stuff surrounding the plot of the big bad in Frozen Empire, stuff involving a teenage ghost, Melody, played by Emily Alyn Lind, but that's not important enough to dwell on. The gist is that an ancient evil has been unleashed and this evil has the power to either scare people to death, though we never see that demonstrated, I don't think, or they can freeze people to death, smashing their icy shell with a twist of their boney finger.

Blah, blah, blah, bustin' makes me feel good, et cetera. The plot is fine. It works and their are good jokes in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, especially from Paul Rudd. That said, there is a tired quality that extends from the script. The script is eager to hit a lot of familiar notes and along the way, the screenwriting compromises to speed up the plot. About the time that Ray is attacked by a stone lion and saved by Phoebe blowing up the lion, the plot gets very dumb.

For reasons, because the plot needs to divide our heroes, Winston blames Ray and Phoebe for blowing up the lion, even though it was clearly possessed by an evil entity and numerous people witnessed it trying to kill Ray, Winston is forced to deliver a speech telling Ray to stop being a ghost investigator. Winston, who has fought stone dogs in the past and is fully aware of how evil spirits work, is placed in the position of being the one to say that the Ghostbusters need to stop ghost-busting. This makes no sense.

Similarly, Callie and Gary are called upon to blame Phoebe's youth and inexperience for her blowing up the stone lion. Again, makes no sense. They are fighting ghosts in this movie and when Phoebe saves lives by destroying a possessed item, they says she's too young and reckless to be a ghostbuster? It just feels fake. It feels like the wheels of a screenplay are turning and causing a complication that the screenplay needs to prolong itself and the fakeness of the complication undermines the movie for a time.

Thankfully, the last act of Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire bounces back. Once everyone is suited up, proton packs at the ready, and Phoebe is using her smarts to even the overwhelming odds, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire gains new strength. The ending is a tad bit rushed, especially where one character flipping sides occurs, but all that is around that is solid, exciting, and classically Ghostbusters. So, I don't love Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, but I like it enough to recommend it. Lower your expectations, live in the glorious nostalgia of it, and you will likely have a good time.

Find my archive of more than 20 years and more than 2000 movie reviews at SeanattheMovies.blogspot.com. Find my modern review archive on my Vocal Profile, linked here. Follow me on Twitter at PodcastSean. Follow the archive blog on Twitter at SeanattheMovies. Listen to me talk about movies on the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast, wherever you listen to podcasts. If you have enjoyed what you have read, consider subscribing to my writing here on Vocal. If you'd like to support my writing, you can do so by making a monthly pledge or by leaving a one time tip. Thanks!

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About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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