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Movie Review: Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire



 

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” - George Bernard Shaw


At the beginning of every review I write, I include a quote I feel is appropriate for the themes of the film I’m writing about. As I searched for the quote I wanted to use for this particular movie I realized why, unfortunately, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire just doesn’t work as well as I was hoping and that is - it doesn’t really possess any kind of actual identity. It is by no means great and doesn’t go so far as to call it awful. It is as mediocre and insignificant as any movie you would expect might be with a release date in the first quarter of the year. There is little to no surprise here and it makes for a mostly lackluster experience. 



Afterlife found a great balance of nostalgia and new allowing it to remember what was while still allowing the future of this franchise to shine not just through the story it told but through its young cast of up and coming future stars like Mckenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard. With Frozen Empire it forgoes the same path laid before it by Afterlife and chooses a more prosaic approach giving us a movie with unlimited potential and squanders much of if not all of it. It is very much a by-the-book, forgettable sophomore slump. 


Frozen Empire delivers on the setup made clear at the end of Afterlife that the setting of rural Oklahoma was switching to the big, exciting city of New York. Once there however it begins a pace suggesting it’s simply going through the motions. It feels as uninspired and disinterested as its cast who like the movie itself are simply going through it. They’re saying the lines and getting from point a to b. With the exception of two actors, nothing about this movie stands out. 



Among the sea of barely adequate shines through Mckenna Grace and Paul Rudd. It becomes clear early on that this is Mckenna Grace’s story and with what she is given makes for the standout performance of the entire movie. She is confident and her character earnest to prove herself. Grace gives a lively and mature performance making her a real highlight in a movie that otherwise doesn’t provide all that much beyond its basic thrills. Paul Rudd is a lot of fun to watch as well but I’m afraid what I enjoyed of him is simply because I’m a Paul Rudd fan to begin with. He’s everything you expect him to be. He’s never remarkable but does take his greatest strengths as a comedic actor and utilizes them to great effect making for one of the funniest performances of the movie. 



As for the rest of the cast they are as enthusiastic as the movie allows for them to be which isn’t saying much. They exist as sounding boards for other actors to deliver their lines to in hopes that they’ll in turn respond accordingly. Again none of what they do is awful but much more succinctly they are bland oatmeal hopefully still lukewarm. It feels like any of the magic conjured by Afterlife deflated like a flaccid blowup doll, still jovial, just unable to maintain its shape or desired effect. 


Frozen Empire takes the characters from Afterlife and places them in the familiar territory of the firehouse long since abandoned by the original Ghostbusters. There they have found their groove of fighting and capturing ghosts littered throughout New York. Despite being the brains of the operation, Phoebe is deemed too young to be an active Ghostbuster at least for the time being. Through circumstance and opportunity she finds her own path back into the fold as they encounter a new, haunted artifact containing, you guessed it, an ancient paranormal god hellbent on redefining the modern world basically by ending it. From start to finish they get into hijinks and implausible ghostly situations allowing them to demonstrate new equipment and techniques all while being the funniest people in the room. 



The villain of the movie is a boring, run-of-the-mill demon ghost whose name I couldn’t give to you if I had a gun to my head. He (it?) is a fitting foe for the kind of movie they have given us. He also doesn’t appear until the second half of the movie at the earliest which is perplexing on its own. For a major chunk of the film the story meanders as the characters cause damage and are forced to incur the wrath of mayor Walter Peck who was previously an inspector for the EPA. Still salivating at the idea of destroying the Ghostbusters once and for all, he jumps at any opportunity as mayor to end their run as ghost hunters. He is as he always was, nothing more than a thorn in the side of the Ghostbusters who are destined to always get one over on the impetuous Mr. Peck. He is less antagonist and more annoying obstacle whose singular purpose is to ultimately prove the ghostbuster’s importance as the paranormal run rampant. 


Frozen Empire has its entertaining sequences and shows off some cool new equipment developed by an ever-expanding Ghostbuster entity complete with paranormal scientists and new means of trapping their afterlife inhabitants. Grace and Rudd are great to watch as they make the best of this otherwise forgettable outing as the Ghostbusters. The old cast is featured pretty significantly but overall feel shoehorned in for purely nostalgic reasons, story be damned. We’re led to believe that the very fate of our world is at stake but the true severity of what actually happens and what is foretold in a menacing prophecy never seem to match up in any significant way. 



As someone who really enjoyed Afterlife, Frozen Empire leaves a lot to be desired. I wish there was more to it, more of an identity beyond, “Hey look! It’s the Ghostbusters!” As for IMAX, which I saw it formatted in, it never feels necessary to view it in such a large, expensive format. I never once thought any part of this movie looked or sounded any better because I was watching it in IMAX. When it comes to the kind of screen to see it on, I think of it in the same way I do the movie itself, IMAX is a take-it-or-leave it kind of choice this time. No FOMO will be there if you see it on a standard screen. If you miss the movie, you aren’t really missing all that much. I don’t hate Frozen Empire; I don’t know that I care about it either. 



Rated PG-13 For: supernatural action/violence, language and suggestive references

Runtime: 115 minutes

After Credits Scene: Midway through the end credits, yes.

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

Starring: Mckenna Grace, Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard

Directed By: Gil Kenan


Out of 10

Story: 6/ Acting: 8/ Directing: 7.5/ Visuals: 7

OVERALL: 6.5/10


Buy to Own: Take-it-or-leave-it. As a collector, I’ll probably buy it to have a complete set. 

 

Check out the trailer below:


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