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‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ - beating a dead ghost

A rear-view of a car with the ghostbusters logo speeding toward the Empire State Building. Swirling wind surrounds both.

By Jack McLaughlin

Arts & Features Editor 

“Ghostbusters” as a film franchise has been struggling to figure out what to do with itself since the release of the beloved classic in 1984. 

Between a direct sequel, a reboot that focused on new characters, and another reboot completely ditching that concept, this series always feels like it’s floundering in a desperate attempt to regain the huge audience it originally had. 

Finally, in 2021, they managed to make “Afterlife,” which didn’t polarize audiences like other installments and used a familiar template of bringing back old cast members and familiar imagery in an attempt to monetize the audience's nostalgia for the original film.  

“Frozen Empire” marks the fifth film in this series, serving as a sequel to “Afterlife.” The story reunites us with the Spengler family, who now live in the iconic firehouse busting all the ghosts that haunt New York City. 

Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) is barred from working on the team following an incident with the city’s mayor due to the concerns of having a teenager working on the team. Meanwhile, a mysterious orb is discovered by retired Ghostbusters founder Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) that has sinister intentions. 

And from there, the film plays out exactly how you would expect it to. 

It’s all here - the return of the original Ghostbusters team, spooky ghosts, and freaky little marshmallow creatures that attempt to distract you from the film’s dark truth. 

None of it feels fun.

Maybe it’s because we as an audience know this type of movie template - it’s been popularized for almost 10 years now. Since “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” there’s been this race between film studios to capitalize on the nostalgia of their huge franchises that have long since seen their peaks. 

No performances stand out - everyone serves the story adequately and offers nothing unique to the table. It feels like the only actors having fun in this, for the most part, are those from the original film. 

The new actors, Finn Wolfhard especially, are given little to nothing to do and feel as if the writers forgot they existed halfway through writing the script. His subplot being boiled down to just being frustrated about being slimed by a ghost is annoying yet absolutely hilarious that they can’t give him anything more to do. 

They somehow manage to make Paul Rudd, an actor that exuberates so much charisma and charm in anything he’s in, one of the most forgettable leads who feels like he’s just there to be on the poster so people get excited to see him. 

The character with the most to do is Phoebe, but it’s not explored nearly as much and instead we’re given long, painfully drawn out scenes of characters like Nadeem (Kumail Nanjiani) delivering some of the most poorly written comedy which is a far cry from the roots of the original film.

It doesn’t matter how much money they gave Bill Murray - he looks like he just randomly showed up to set one day, threw on a Ghostbusters uniform and winged it. He manages to get the one joke in the film that made me genuinely laugh, but it happens over two-thirds in, so does it really matter?

If I had to give this product any positive feedback, it would be that they nailed the pacing of this. A brisk flash in the pot that lasts under two hours made watching this a much more bearable endeavor. If it were any longer, I think I would’ve fallen asleep. 

It does sound like I am going off on this movie. No, “Frozen Empire” is not inherently a terrible movie. It’s watchable and has a vague sign of life somewhere in it. 

It is, however, a perfect representation of what makes most blockbusters so uninteresting to watch. 

This is a long-dead franchise that’s a ghost of what it once was. Huge films like “Barbie” and “Dune” are distancing the audience's attention to this predictable formula for movies, and it’s time studios like Sony get the clue. 

Rating: D

Hauntingly mediocre


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