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Trying Not to Judge a Movie by It's Trailer #GhostbustersFrozenEmpire

I am really excited for the new Ghostbusters movie, Ghostbusters Frozen Empire but...

By Sean PatrickPublished 25 days ago 3 min read

Why do I hate the trailer for Ghostbusters Frozen Empire? I love Ghostbusters. I have enjoyed every Ghostbusters movie to varying degrees. I was excited for and really enjoyed the all female, cast alt-universe Ghostbusters movie, and I adored Jason Reitman's Ghostbusters: Afterlife, especially the tributes to Reitman's dad, director Ivan Reitman, and to writer and star Harold Ramis. The first Ghostbusters from 1984 is a big part of why I ended up dedicating most of my life to writing about and loving movies.

I have been rooting for this franchise to return for years and I have been pleased with what has come from the return of the franchise. And yet, there is something about the trailers for Ghostbusters Frozen Empire that has nagged at me. I've only recently figured out what is bothering me and before I actually see the movie, I wanted to purge my mind of these issues and press myself to be excited for the movie again.

The first trailer for Ghostbusters Frozen Empire introduces the big supernatural conceit: something is causing New York City to freeze solid. A horned entity is causing people to freeze in place and die almost instantly. It's a concept almost too scary for a Ghostbusters movie, considering that these are supposed to be comedies that happen to have ghosts and world ending danger involved.

Regardless, that is a minor issue that I could get over if it weren't for the way the trailer introduces a seemingly separate danger, like a secondary horror conceit. On one hand, we have the freezing in place, which Dan Akroyd's Ray calls a possible second ice age. On the other hand, we have a villain with the power to scare people to death. It's a horned demon who appears, via visual clues, to be commanding the cold. But this demon kills by scaring people to death... and freezing them? Are they frozen by fear? Because visually, we see icicles and people literally freezing with ice surrounding them that can shatter if touched. So, do you die from fright or freezing to death or are these two separate dangers?

Then there is a sphere that can turn people frozen. So is the sphere the thing that is freezing people or the horned demon? Are there two stories happening or just one? Are the old Ghostbusters fighting the fear demon and the new team, with the kids and Paul Rudd fighting the freeze? Or are they all working together? Who is Patton Oswalt's character? Why is Kumail Nanjiani here? Are there four or five new Ghostbusters? And is Annie Potts now a Ghostbuster? She was the secretary in the original and the person in charge of Egon's estate in Ghostbusters Afterlife.

That's a lot of confounding elements in just the first trailer. Then, two weeks prior to when I am writing this, March 7th, 2024, the makers of Ghostbusters Frozen Empire dropped another teaser trailer that muddied the plot even further. In this version of the story, the big horned demon is now commanding an army of ghosts that have escaped from the Ghostbusters containment unit. You remember? From the first two films? There was a containment unit that Ray and Egon built that they stored ghosts in? That's apparently just been sitting there in the old Ghostbusters Fire Department.

This new horned villain is letting the ghosts out. Didn't we do that already? Am I forgetting something? Regardless, it's just another needlessly confusing element that is blunting my excitement for a movie that I was/am genuinely excited for. I'm still hopeful that the movie will unlock something that ties all of these disparate elements together but it's hard to stay excited. Early reviews of Ghostbusters Frozen Empire aren't great and while I have purposely avoided reading any of the actual, long-form criticism of the movie, I have seen an overview and it appears to confirm the issues that these trailers indicate: the movie is overstuffed, overlong, and tonally all over the map.

I hope this isn't true, but I am growing wary. Thankfully, as I write this, I am only hours from seeing Ghostbusters Frozen Empire. So, I can probably stay excited for a few more hours, but it is an effort I am making to stay positive. The trailers have funny moments. The return of William Atherton's Walter Peck has helped stoke my nostalgia and I know Paul Rudd will be his Paul Rudd-iest. I don't judge a movie by its trailer. I am a professional film critic, I am able to put aside a lot of nonsense and judge a film based on the film. But... this is Ghostbusters. I love Ghostbusters. I'm worried about this thing I really enjoy not being good.


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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