Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire
dir Gil Kenan
scr Gil Kenan, Jason Reitman
prd Jason Blumenfeld, Ivan Reitman, Jason Reitman
with Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Kumail Nanjiani, Patton Oswalt, Celeste O'Connor, Emily Alyn Lind, Logan Kim, James Acaster, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray, Annie Potts
release US/UK 22.Mar.24
24/US Columbia 1h55

nanjiani oswalt oconnor
See also:
Ghostbusters (2016) Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)

Is it streaming?

coon, grace, wolfhard and rudd
While this instalment in the revived 1980s franchise is watchable, and occasionally enjoyable too, it falls into the bloated blockbuster sequel trap, featuring so many characters that none of them feel satisfying. And the story is both over-complicated and underwhelming. The cast is strong enough to keep us smiling,, but the movie is neither funny nor scary enough to be much more than a bit of over-egged fluff.
Now at home in the iconic Ghostbusters firehouse in New York, Gary (Rudd) is building a family with girlfriend Callie (Coon) and her science-obsessed teen kids Trevor and Phoebe (Wolfhard and Grace). Chasing renegade spirits is their business, bankrolled by veteran Winston (Hudson) with assistance from his original teammates (Aykroyd, Murray and Potts). Then Nadeem (Nanjiani) turns up to sell his grandmother's artefacts, one of which is an orb containing an imprisoned deity who is intent on freezing humanity for some reason. When he escapes, stopping him proves to be an epic challenge.
Of course, because there's never any doubt about where this story is going, there's not much tension in the plot. And this angry god is yet another anonymous grizzled digital creation with no personality or presence. Instead, entertainment comes in creepy moments that lead into explosions of ghostly mayhem, plus limited witty interactions between cast members. But the escalating chaos doesn't allow for much down time, so the film relies on nostalgic touches and big slapstick-style action rather than the usual earthy mix of comedy and nastiness.

It's great to see the original stars, relaxed and effortlessly hilarious as they remain above the material. Meanwhile, the rest of the likeable ensemble is in the thick of it, grappling with various story threads while trying to steal a scene or two. Each actor shines, but only Grace's Phoebe gets her own subplot as she befriends chess-playing teen ghost Melody (Lind). Rudd has his properly hilarious moment, but the best dialog goes to Nanjiani and Oswalt, as an antiquities librarian who explains the mythology.

Because this franchise has generated good will over the decades, we are determined to love this movie and have fun with it. This takes some work, as the rickety narrative is engulfed in digital effects and plot exposition. There are some underlying themes that catch the imagination, mainly relating to this assembled family, but there's not much to them. So we're left fondly remembering the improvisational joy of the earlier movies, hoping they can tap into that again.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 21.Mar.24

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© 2024 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall