Movie Review

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire Was A Fun, Yet Flawed Experience.

I started my Friday Night drinking adult beverages and eating appetizers with a friend at Miller’s Ale House. I later found myself paying a cherished part of my childhood a visit. Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire opened nationwide this past weekend. That’s right. The Ecto-1 roared back onto the screen, this time with the Spengler family behind the wheel. Fun was had, questions were raised and there was a slight amount of confusion here and there. However, as the song clearly states: “Bustin makes me feel good!” and I found myself leaving a movie theater in the year of our Lord, 2024 with the ultra-rare feeling of satisfaction.

The Spengler Family Has Taken Over The Firehouse In “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire”.

The much-anticipated follow up to Ghostbusters: Afterlife does fall short of the emotional impact that Afterlife had on the audience. However, The writing remained sharp. The jokes landed and the effects were on point. Writing this review is a tough ask for me. As much as I did enjoy Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, there is a fair number of things wrong with it as well. This is where the line between my take as a fan ends and my take as a critic begins.  It is my duty to you as a reader to maintain an objective point of view, so I will do just that.

Without further ado, Let’s dive in and explore why Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire has become such a paradox for me.

What Frozen Empire Gets Right

The main plot of the movie is an interesting one. We start off in traditional fashion, with a backstory that dates back to 1904 and sets the tone correctly. It is stuff that lines up well with the mystical undertones that Ghostbusters has been known for. After the setup we are greeted with the Ecto-1 speeding through the streets of New York City.

The Spengler Family is hot on the trail of a spiritual being and ends up saving the day. Unfortunately, the inevitable damage is frowned upon. The newly elected Mayor of New York City; Walter Peck admonishes the group. He orders Phoebe benched, citing child labor laws as his reasoning for doing so.

Seen Here In 1984, William Atherton Returns in “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” As The Arrogant Walter Peck.

William Atherton returns as Peck and hasn’t missed a beat. He is smug, condescending and chews up the scenes he is in with sadistic glee. 

Ernie Hudson returns as Ghostbuster turned philanthropist Winston Zeddemore. He has expanded operations beyond the firehouse and has a high tech lab where paranormal activity is studied and people are trained to be official Ghostbusters. This direction of the plot is an interesting take on Zeddemore’s character arc. I’m hoping that it plays a bigger part should future installments of the franchise be made.

The Side Stories Are Very Entertaining

Kumail Nanjiani gives us a steady stream of laughs as a shady drop shipper who sets the film’s chain of events in motion. Nanjiani continues to maintain a reputation as an accomplished character actor. He assimilates with the legacy characters well and his interaction with Bill Murray’s Dr. Peter Venkman is one of the funniest moments in the movie. 

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the movie for me is the rivalry between Slimer and Trevor Spengler. Slimer’s hijinx are a humorous annoyance. The scenes are reminiscent of the relationship between Venkman and Slimer in the Real Ghostbusters cartoon series.

I would Have Much Rather Seen The Real Stay Puft Make An Appearance.

 

There are callbacks galore, which other reviewers such as Kneon from Clownfish TV saw as excessive. At times, Kneon is right. The mini Marshmallow Men were cute in the film’s predecessor. However, the ‘member berries don’t need to be THAT strong. Ghostbusters: Afterlife was only made less than three years ago. We all remember them. That callback is unnecessary. However, some criticism of the callbacks is a tad too harsh. I enjoyed seeing Ray go back to the New York City Public Library. For fans of the original movie, seeing Ray Stantz go back to where the franchise begins is a nice touch. What’s more is; Frozen Empire also provides the beautiful shots of the New York City Skyline that the first two movies were known for. Sorry, Afterlife. New York City is just better looking than Oklahoman farmland.

What Frozen Empire Gets Wrong.

This is where I have to take my inner child/fanboy hat off and get down to business. Let me begin by saying that I DO enjoy this movie. I do not regret paying for tickets to see it in the theater. It is fun, as I stated before; the jokes and gags are well placed and well written. When they land, they land spectacularly.

That being said; the movie has major problems making the story function because the writers didn’t self edit. There are too many sub plots in this movie to keep track of. It causes the viewer to lose focus on the main story which I admittedly forgot about multiple times throughout the movie because there was so much filler crammed in. Plot points included…

  • Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd) struggling to gain recognition as a father figure to the Spengler Children.
  • The actual studying of Ghosts at Winston’s institute.
  • Trevor Spengler wanting independence.
  • Phoebe Spengler navigating her awkward teen years.
  • A ghost that befriends Phoebe and is trying to get to the Afterlife and reunite with her family.

All of these subplots are focused on intensely to the detriment of the main plot and our actual villain. There was even one point in the film, where the macguffin acts up, and I said to myself out loud: “Oh yeah, I forgot this still a thing.”

At Times, “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” Felt Bogged Down With Way Too Many Characters.

Too Many Plots, Too Many Plot Holes, Too Many Characters

The problem with so many plot elements is that they leave no room for development.

  • Kumail Nunjiani’s character is supposed to be instrumental to the plot, but there isn’t any room left for the writers to explain why.
  • Melody, the ghost that befriends Phoebe has ties to the main villain. There is no logical explanation as to how or why this particular ghost has said ties.
  • If the containment unit at the Firehouse is on its last legs, why can’t Winston just fix it? He literally converted an abandoned aquarium into a state-of-the-art facility. 
  • Phoebe has a moment where she just knows how all of the technology in the new facility works and has a moment reminiscent to the moment at the end of Casper only in reverse. She has the operating procedures down to a science despite the fact that all of this tech was just introduced to her.
  • The history of the main villain is never comprehensively explained, so when the big reveal comes; it isn’t as impactful as it should be.

More sub plots also lead to more characters. Most of these characters are unnecessary.

  • Patton Oswalt has a painfully unfunny cameo that could have easily been converted into knowledge that Ray’s character should have already known.
  • Melody, although played competently by actress Emily Alyn Lin, isn’t necessary to the progression of the plot.
  • Podcast and Lucky have also made the pilgrimage from Oklahoma to NYC for some reason. Their roles could have easily just been skype cameos.

Characters Like Podcast Were Ultimately Not Necessary For This Chapter Of The Franchise.

The movie is a house party that has invited way too many guests. This only sets the movie up for failure as the main cast is never given an opportunity to shine on their own. However, Peter Venkman returning to the Firehouse, finding his hidden stash of booze and offering “courage” to everyone else is a scene so natural and relaxed that only Bill Murray is able to pull it off. It was little moments like that that salvaged the film.

Final Takeaway/The Scene That Broke Me.

There is a scene towards the middle of the movie after a mishap, where Winston and Ray have a heart to heart. Winston suggests that Ray hang it up and go “enjoy his golden years.” Ray tearfully responds to Winston with “… These are my golden years.” If you know the history of this franchise, and what it means to Dan Aykroyd, then you’ll know how emotionally powerful that line is.

The Ghostbusters are Dan Aykroyd and Dan Aykroyd is the Ghostbusters. One ceases to exist without the other. 

With Harold Ramis And Ivan Reitman Dead, Dan Aykroyd Is Left Alone To Carry The Torch He Lit Over 40 Years Ago.

Aykroyd has had a lifelong fascination with the paranormal and crafted the original concept of Ghostbusters with friends Eddie Murphy and John Belushi in mind. After John Belushi fell victim to his personal demons in 1982, the project died on the vine and Murphy moved on. When Harold Ramis teamed up with Aykroyd and retooled the script, history was made in 1984. Of course, we all know Belushi still made it into the film. Slimer is in fact John Belushi in the afterlife.

Reitman Was The Final Piece.

With all due respect to Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson and the rest of the wonderful cast that made this cultural icon what it is today; Aykroyd conceived this idea. Ivan Reitman and Harold Ramis helped him bring it home. Ramis passed on to the next life ten years ago after struggling with a painful disease. Reitman passed away two years ago.

With those two men dead, this leaves Aykroyd alone to carry the torch that he lit himself all those years ago. So when he tearfully says that line, which resonated with me a lot after I walked out of the theater; I will make the argument that this is Dan Aykroyd subconsciously breaking the fourth wall and telling the fans that he’s not going anywhere.

Blues Brothers is an all time classic. Trading Places is one of the greatest comedies of the eighties. Driving Ms. Daisy, The Great Outdoors, Coneheads… All of these films are wonderful in their own right. Ghostbusters however, is Dan Aykroyd’s legacy. 

 That line is him knowing that nothing lasts forever. He will defend and honor this beloved franchise until the very end. So yes, the movie is flawed. Some things don’t make sense. I will even dare say that some plot points are stupid. However, the movie is also fun and entertaining. There is still a charm to it. I questioned the film and some choices made. However, I ended up enjoying the movie too much to care about the miscues.

It was a night out where I escaped from the stresses of the world and watched Dan Aykroyd take this baby out for a spin one more time. This day and age, you can’t ask for much more than that.

So, thank you to Dan Aykroyd for this wonderful franchise and thank you for seeing it through to the very end. Whenever that may be.

To the Golden Years!

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Thank You for reading! When I am not writing I enjoy spending time with my wife Barbara, my four year old daughter Frances, and my loyal hound Marbles.  For more hot takes, follow me here.  You can also check out more of my content on my author’s page.

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