Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024) – Film Review

Ghostbusters Frozen Empire Film Review

Director: Gil Kenan
Cast: Paul Rudd, McKenna Grace, Dan Aykroyd
Certificate: 12A

By Roger Crow

It’s summer in New York, but the place is freezing? How do you pull off such an effect? Shoot part of the new Ghostbusters in Blighty, that’s how. British summers eh?

Following the sublime Ghostbusters: Afterlife, most of which took place in a rural outdoorsy setting, we’re back on familiar turf with the fourth movie in the OG Ghostbusters timeline. (That gender-flipped 2016 version doesn’t count, and yet has a much higher gags-per-minute count, not least thanks to Chris Hemsworth).

Anyway, following her star-making turn in the previous movie, McKenna Grace once more steals this film as Phoebe Spengler, the granddaughter of Harold Ramis’s much-missed character, Egon.

She and her family, brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), mum Callie (Carrie Coon) and bolt-on stepdad, Gary (Paul Rudd), have moved into the old firehouse known to many as Hook and Ladder in the Big Apple. We’ve never seen so much of said building before, that’s because this version has been designed by Brit genius Luke Whitelock, who also worked on Sandman and The Batman. (His Insta feed is a fascinating collection of behind-the-scenes demos of how he created movie magic).

Ghostbusters Frozen Empire Film Review

“May or may not have special powers”

Anyway, the plot involves an ancient artefact, like a brass bowling ball covered in glyphs, that summons an ancient demon, who makes things chilly. The artefact belonged to Nadeem (Kumail Nanjiani), a guy who may or may not have special powers and spends far too much screen time not being funny while attempting to control fire.

The heart of the story is the relationship between Phoebe and Melody, a chess-playing ghost of a similar age, who also has a nice line in deadpan one-liners, and possibly a hidden agenda.

Phoebe’s fractious relationship between her stepdad provides some tension, and those young characters from the previous film are also back: Podcast (Logan Kim), and Lucky (Celeste O’Connor). Oh, and James Acaster (one of my least favourite comedians but a not-bad actor) plays it straight as Lars, another Ghostbuster, who seems to be setting up a future franchise on a massive scale.

There’s so much exposition about the new Ghostbuster base that it has to pan out for sequels, possible theme park, TV show, video game. This definitely feels like Sony are capitalising on a much-loved franchise in its 40th year, and beyond.

All of which is financed by Winston (Ernie Hudson), who now seems to have as much cash as Jeff Bezos.

Ghostbusters Frozen Empire Film Review

“A lot of fun”

William Atherton from film one is also back as officious VIP Walter Peck, but that authority seems to be forgotten. And Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) does his exposition thing, as does Dr Hubert Wartzki (Patton Oswalt), who works at the New York library. Old school characters Venkman (Bill Murray) and Melnitz (Annie Potts) are on hand to make fans of the original misty-eyed.

Oh, and green blob Slimer is also back, stuffing his face in the attic of the old firehouse.

So there are TOO MANY CHARACTERS, and not enough plot, but having said that, this is still a lot of fun with some great set pieces. Ecto-1 wailing around New York chasing a ghost in the opener is fun enough, or it would have been if the kid next to me hadn’t spent the first 10 minutes clearing up the popcorn he spilled.

The effects are fine, the score is okay, and there are some touching scenes as all the loose ends tie together in the third act.

How does it rank with the other movies? Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021), Ghostbusters (2016), this movie, and then Ghostbusters II (1989), though you may have a different opinion. What’s remarkable is that all the movies are great fun, and the fact there have been only five in 40 years, and none are terrible, means that the next one has a lot to live up to.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Expire is in cinemas now

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