Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire Unleashes a New Ice Age in the Big Apple

The firehouse freezes over in New York City in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.

I’ve been a huge fan of the Ghostbusters franchise ever since I was a little kid. I love the original two movies and Ghostbusters: Afterlife (although I never saw the remake), I watched the animated series back in the day, and I even had the “real-life” Ghostbusters appear at my birthday party one year. So naturally, I’ve been pretty excited for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire from the day it was announced. I counted down the days until the day I’d finally be able to see it, and now that the day has finally come, I’m sad to report that it’s a huge disappointment.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire was directed and co-written by Gil Kenan, and it stars Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Logan Kim, Dan Aykroyd, and Kumail Nanjiani. In the film, a few years have passed since Afterlife, and the Spenglers (along with Paul Rudd’s Gary Grooberson) are living in the old Ghostbusters headquarters.

They’re busting ghosts in the Big Apple just like Egon and his friends did back in the 1980s, but not everyone appreciates their work. In particular, Walter Peck, the overzealous EPA inspector from the first movie, is now the city’s mayor, and his dislike for the Ghostbusters is just as intense as ever. On top of that, when original Ghostbuster Ray Stantz comes across a brass cylinder that holds a nasty entity inside, all hell breaks loose and threatens to plunge New York into a perpetual ice age.

Like just about every film in this franchise, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire doesn’t exactly tell a super compelling story. It’s your standard “nasty supernatural entity is about to take over the world” plot that we’ve seen multiple times before, so this film needs to excel in other areas. But unfortunately, it’s just a big letdown all across the board.

People talking in a library
Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), Podcast (Logan Kim), Ray (Dan Aykroyd), and Dr. Hubert Wartzki (Patton Oswalt) in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.

To begin, a lot of the nostalgia in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is completely shoehorned in, and coming from me, that’s saying something. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, so I usually eat this stuff up. But here, it just sticks out like a sore thumb. For example, the disgusting green fan-favorite ghost Slimer is back, but he plays no real role in the story. He’s just there to tickle our nostalgia, and the movie would’ve been exactly the same without him. Similarly, the cute little Stay-Puft Marshmallow Men from the last film are also back, and their presence is just as pointless as Slimer’s.

But hands down, the worst nostalgia bait in this movie is Walter Peck. He uses his authority to strip the Ghostbusters of their equipment, but they’re able to get it back without breaking a sweat. They basically employ a lame deus ex machina, so Peck doesn’t even present a legitimate roadblock for them. He’s just a minor inconvenience, so he really has no business being in this story.

On top of all that, even some of the returning characters from Afterlife are pretty disappointing. Most notably, Lucky, Trevor’s crush in that film, shows up randomly, and she never does anything to justify her inclusion here. She’s kind of just there, so once again, Ghostbusters: Frozen Kingdom would’ve been exactly the same without her.

Along similar lines, I also thought that Podcast, one of the best characters in Afterlife, just didn’t have the same charm he had in the previous movie. See, in that last film, he was barely a teenager, but in the three years since it came out, he’s grown up quite a bit. He looks like a completely different person, so the quirky personality that made him a cute, endearing kid just comes across as weird and off-putting this time.

Slimer in a pile of trash
Slimer in a trash pile in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.

To be fair, none of those flaws killed the movie for me. I could’ve forgiven them all if Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire nailed the franchise’s signature humor, but unfortunately, this film commits one of the worst cinematic sins of all: it’s an unfunny comedy. As I’ve said before, few things can ruin a film worse than humor that doesn’t land, and that’s what ultimately does this movie in.

Granted, not all of the jokes fall flat. They actually get noticeably better in the second half, and the third act actually has some pretty good ones, but by then it’s just too little too late. Like all comedies, this film’s number one job is to make us laugh, and it simply doesn’t do that.

All that being said, I can’t quite say that Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is a total failure. Aside from a few decently funny moments, there’s one thing about this movie that I actually quite liked: the villain. In particular, I thought the design of this entity was pretty cool. It looks, talks, and moves in a way that would fit in with a more serious horror film, but it also has the kind of cartoonish feel that makes it perfect for a Ghostbusters movie. It’s the best of both worlds, so whenever this thing was on screen, I always enjoyed seeing it go about its evil business.

But unfortunately, that’s not nearly enough to salvage the entire experience. On the whole, the poorly done nostalgia, the weak returning characters, and, above all else, the unfunny humor make Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire a real slog to get through, so unless you just need to see this film, I suggest you skip it and watch something better, like Love Lies Bleeding or Late Night with the Devil.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is playing in theaters right now.

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong movie fan, and his favorite genres are horror, superheroes, and giant monsters.

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