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Home > Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024): A Review

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024): A Review

Who you gonna call?

The Ghostbusters are back for a new adventure, this time returning to New York City. After the events of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the Spengler family moves into the old firehouse and forms a new Ghostbusters team consisting of the three Spenglers and Gary Grooberson. The family struggles to work as a team, leading them all to clash heads. While the family carries on the Ghostbuster legacy, Ray Stantz begins to reminisce about his glory days as a Ghostbuster. Still operating his occult bookshop, he records a Podcast about collecting haunted objects. When a brass orb enters his possession, he discovers it confines a godlike entity, Garraka, with the power of the Death Chill. As the Spengler family teams up with the original Ghostbusters, they fight to protect the world from a second ice age. 

Old Meets the New

Based on a script written by Jason Reitman and Gil Kenana, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is directed by Kenana and sees the return of numerous legacy characters. Mckenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Celeste O’Connor, Logan Kim, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray, Annie Potts, and William Atherton all reprise their characters from the previous three installments. In addition to the existing cast members, Kumail Nanjiahi, Patton Oswalt, Emily Alyn Lind, and James Acaster join the film’s roaster as well. 

After serving as glorified cameos in Afterlife, it’s refreshing to see the original Ghostbusters play a larger role in Frozen Empire. Aykroyd and Hudson serve a more prominent role in the story, interwoven their side quests throughout the narrative. Seeing the old cast interact with the newer members also helps stabilize the movie and connect it to the original. While the Spengler family introduced in Afterlife are interesting enough to carry their own film, it allows audiences the chance to see the original beloved characters grow and develop over time.

Too Much Stuff, Not Enough Space

Surprisingly, the Frozen Empire trailers didn’t reveal much of the plot. Numerous plot lines and narratives weren’t even hinted at in the marketing. All of these narratives are interesting and help flesh out the world of the Ghostbusters in fun and unique ways. However, for being just under two hours, the movie cannot provide enough screen time to give a satisfying arc for each of the narratives. One of the main issues of this seemingly comes from the movie’s unwillingness to retire characters from previous films. For example, Lucky and Podcast are fun and enduring characters in the Afterlife, but they serve no purpose in this narrative. The movie comes up with contrived excuses to bring them back for the sequel, but their reasonings are flimsy and take away runtime that could have been dedicated to other plot lines. While they are still great characters that have a fun screen presence, it would have best served the movie if they were cut.

Besides Podcast and Lucky, the movie tries to stuff other plot lines into the narrative, causing several of them to trail off without a satisfying conclusion. Finn Wolfhard’s character, Trevor, is given a narrative that, by the end, amounts to nothing and serves no purpose in the grander arc. Other characters are given story arcs that do impact the narrative directly, such as with Phoebe, but because of the crammed story, it doesn’t feel like their stories were given the proper amount of time. With Phoebe, she’s given an arc that expands upon the Ghostbuster’s world in unique and exciting ways, but it still feels like the story wasn’t fully explored. This goes for almost all plotlines, where they begin to feel half-baked. Trimming the fluff from the movie could have allowed the story to focus on and better expand the new ideas being introduced.

Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson in “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” | Image: Sony Pictures

New Decade, New Rules

As mentioned, the movie introduces new ideas and concepts never seen in previous Ghostbusters movies. This enhances the film as it feels like they are progressing the franchise further. One of the latest concepts involves Phoebe and her relationship with a ghost. It’s a simple concept, but it enhances the experience overall as it explores the universe from perspectives we’ve never seen before. 

Picking up where Afterlife left off, the family dynamic of the Spengler family continues to provide a breath of fresh air to the franchise. The switch from four bachelor scientists to a dysfunctional family unit allows for exploring new themes. While Ghostbusters has always appealed to a kid audience, the original two films from the 80s have a slight edge that didn’t always make the entire film family appropriate. With Afterlife and Frozen Empire, the franchise has begun to skew toward a family-friendly audience that provides a new charm that wasn’t present before. 

Breaking the Mold

As mentioned before, Frozen Empire takes the franchise down new avenues. The previous four films mainly revolved around the formation of the Ghostbusters team, which began to feel monotonous. From the start, Frozen Empire jumps into action by having the Ghostbusters busting ghosts. It frees up runtime to dedicate the movie to exploring new ideas rather than focusing on the team’s formation. 

Like all of the other Ghostbuster villains, the film’s threat, Garraka, isn’t given any development beyond being an evil entity that must be stopped. Nevertheless, the power of Death Chill and the icy atmosphere created some unique action sequences, setting him apart from Gozer and Vigo in the previous installments. Even the lore and history established for Garraka develop the Ghostbusters universe in exciting ways. His involvement in the story also added frightening imagery, boosting the horror elements to balance out the comedy. 

While Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire contains numerous flaws, the creativity and departure for the franchise helped elevate the positives. It expands upon the already-established lore and plays around with interesting concepts. It struggles with balancing the plot lines and characters, with almost all feeling underdeveloped to a certain degree. However, characters introduced in Afterlife are further developed here, establishing the new crew of Ghostbusters as worthy of carrying on the franchise’s legacy.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is currently playing in theaters.

Image courtesy of Sony Pictures

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024) Official Sony Pictures Trailer 

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Mason Kupiainen is a recent Butler University graduate with a degree in Creative Media and Entertainment. His work has been published in Butler Collegiate, The Mall, and Byte BSU. Along with written work, he has a videography portfolio with Indy Blue Video, Byte BSU, and Ball Bearings.
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I am an aspiring author living and working out of Honolulu, Hawaii. I received my bachelor's degree in Art History at Westmont College and then pursued a master's in Museum Studies at the University of Hawaii. I am currently working on a few novels, and am thankful for the opportunity to expand my creative writing voice at Dead Talk Live.