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Review: “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire”

The fifth installment of the “Ghostbusters” franchise is a forgettable, mediocre attempt at keeping the franchise alive.
Image by Ava Weinreis
“Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” released in theaters on March 22.

The “Ghostbusters” series released its fifth installment, “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire,” on March 22, starring Paul Rudd with supporting appearances from some of the original film’s cast. 

Unfortunately, the series has become a shell of its former self in the nearly 40 years since the original, losing much of its wit and charm.

Directly following 2021’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” also starring Paul Rudd, “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” is about Gary Grooberson, played by Rudd, and the Spangler family, played by Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard and Mckenna Grace, working alongside members of the 1984 Ghostbusters crew as they fight against an ice-powered ghost that came from a haunted antique orb.

If the plot sounds unambitious and boring, that’s because it is. “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” does little to progress the franchise in a meaningful way as it over-relies on nostalgia and lame attempts at comedy.

Within around 10 minutes of the movie,  Dan Aykroyd reprises the character Dr. Ray Stantz. The filmmakers had to think of a way to make his character modern, so they took the easy way out and decided he has a YouTube channel now.

Following Aykroyd’s return, we also see Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson reprising their classic roles. Re-introducing these old characters felt too rushed, as the audience barely had time to re-familiarize themselves with the new characters before the filmmakers decided to shoe-horn in the old characters for the sake of nostalgia.

In the spirit of using fan service as a gimmick, yet another callback to the original film is when the new crew visits the New York Public Library, which was notably featured in the first film. Here, they consult Patton Oswalt about the orb containing the ice-themed evil spirit. 

Again, this feels like a cop-out by the filmmakers, shoving in as many references to the original as possible instead of trying to make something interesting out of a continuation of the franchise.

The most compelling part of the film that centers around the new characters is the friendship between Phoebe, the youngest member of the new Ghostbusters crew, and Melody, a ghost who died in a fire in a previous life played by Emily Alyn Lind. While these two characters on their own aren’t that interesting, together they had on-screen chemistry that proved to be one of the rare examples of the new characters being entertaining.

One strength of the movie is the special effects. The new ghosts look pretty cool, especially the film’s main villain.

While there are a few references to the ghosts from the original movie, the filmmakers actually do a pretty good job of focusing on the new main villain rather than shoving more old villains down our throats.

For the most part, “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” is lackluster and forgettable. While there are a couple of funny jokes, much of the humor falls flat and is sure to sound dated years from now, which can’t be said about the original film. 

Unless you are a “Ghostbusters” completionist, there is no reason to check out this new movie.

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