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Wednesday, March 20, 2024

‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ Review – The Nostalgia Tank Is Running on Empty in Familiar Ghostbusting Tale

It’s been almost forty years since Ghostbusters introduced the plucky foursome fumbling their way through spectral encounters, using a now iconic Manhattan firehouse as their operations base. Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, set two years after the events of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, further entrenches the Spengler family and newcomers into the franchise by returning to where it all began: New York City. Frozen Empire offers familiar set pieces, references, and easter eggs aplenty, but the nostalgia tank is now running on empty.

Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), mom Callie (Carrie Coon), and stepdad Gary (Paul Rudd) have adjusted well to life as Ghostbusters in the rundown yet classic firehouse. So well, in fact, that their latest paranormal capture caused enough city damage to put them in the crosshairs of Walter “Dickless” Peck (William Atherton). That’s not the only source of trouble for the new team; the firehouse’s containment unit is at capacity and struggling. Then there’s the matter of an ancient artifact that happens to act as the prison for a malevolent deity, Garraka, that intends to plunder the world into an icy apocalypse.

Ghostbusters in action

Sewer Dragon Ghost being chased through New York in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.

Afterlife co-writers Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan (Monster House, 2015’s Poltergeist) once again share writing duties, with Kenan taking over as director of Frozen Empire. Kenan has the unenviable task of corralling both the new generation of Ghostbusters and originals into one cohesive story, and it quickly proves to be an insurmountable hurdle to clear. Uniting the Spengler family with Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), and Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts) is seamless enough, thanks to the legwork in Afterlife. But Frozen Empire quickly struggles with incorporating Afterlife characters Podcast (Logan Kim) and Lucky (Celeste O’Connor). That’s before the introduction of Kumail Nanjiani’s Nadeem, Emily Alyn Lind’s Melody, Winston’s engineer Lars (James Acaster), and a slew of cameos.

Stretched far too thin in trying to give every character a moment to shine, whether through humor, callbacks, or ghostbusting heroics, Frozen Empire takes a long while to lay the groundwork. The throughline is Afterlife’s heroine, Phoebe, but poor Phoebe spends the bulk of the movie struggling with growing pains and teen angst. McKenna Grace does what she can and ultimately retains rooting interest through sheer will and empathy, but Frozen Empire throws every contrivance possible in her way to prolong the story’s central ghost problem.

And it has a big ghost problem, just not in the way the story presents.

Just some of the cast in Ghostbusters Frozen Empire

(L to R) Callie (Carrie Coon), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), Gary (Paul Rudd), Janine (Annie Potts), Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), Podcast (Logan Kim), Ray (Dan Aykroyd), Lars (James Acaster) and Lucky (Celeste O’Connor) in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.

With marketing leaning so heavily into the frozen aspect of its title, there’s very little in the way of a frozen empire or ghostly apocalypse. The movie spends the bulk of its runtime scattering its overcrowded cast to various corners, each separately discovering vital clues or puzzle pieces, with a cute but scant scattering of new encounters or familiar specters to tickle the nostalgia bone. When it comes to the film’s big bad, Frozen Empire prefers to tell audiences, rather than show, what terrible beast is poised to unleash hell on New York City. By the time he does come into full power, the climax feels far too abrupt and uneventful compared to the lengthy setup promising an epic showdown.

As polished as this entry may be, the stakes feel at the franchise’s lowest.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire can’t decide between nostalgia, humor, or heart. So, it opts for a scattershot version of all three. Whereas Afterlife grappled with family legacy, Frozen Empire isn’t sure of itself beyond addressing the shift from old guard to new. But it’s still far too reliant on nostalgia to serve as the next step in the franchise’s evolution, and that also includes the formula, right down to updated lines like “Are you the flame master?” It winds up a series of charming moments cast adrift amidst an overly simplistic, familiar story.

That may be enough for some, especially when Frozen Empire pulls out some deep-cut nods. But by the time the mid-credit scene kicks in, solely designed to inspire merchandising sales, it’s more likely to leave you ready for the Ghostbusters to retire in peace.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire arrives in theaters on March 22.

2.5 out of 5 skulls

The post ‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ Review – The Nostalgia Tank Is Running on Empty in Familiar Ghostbusting Tale appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3804975/ghostbusters-frozen-empire-review-the-nostalgia-tank-is-running-on-empty-in-familiar-ghostbusting-tale/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ghostbusters-frozen-empire-review-the-nostalgia-tank-is-running-on-empty-in-familiar-ghostbusting-tale

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