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Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024)

Primary Disclaimer: Eddie works for the company making the premium theater concession products. 

Secondary Disclaimer: Eddie and I are both huge Paul Rudd fans. 

As the latest installment in the Ghostbusters franchise, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire mostly delivers. There are several callbacks to the original film, more appearances from the O.G. cast and way more screen time for the always wonderful Paul Rudd. 

This time, director Gil Kenan (Monster House) has the daunting task of maintaining one of the most iconic franchises of all time. He takes over for O.G. director, the late Ivan Reitman's son Jason, who helmed the previous film, Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Kenan's horror and comedy backgrounds lend itself to the series quite nicely. 

While pacing is problematic throughout, making an under two-hour feature feel closer to two-and-a-half, Kenan makes sure to stay as true to the original film as possible, unlike Afterlife, which went the traditional reboot route of making a beloved film incredibly dark. 

Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster | Copyright Sony 2024

This film follows the Spengler family as they leave Oklahoma behind and decide to resurrect the Ghostbusters proper in NYC, making the iconic Tribeca firehouse their own. Joining them is Rudd's Gary Grooberson, who this time has top billing after spending too few scenes in Afterlife, and is now official with Spengler matriarch Cassie (Carrie Coon). 

Together, they uncover many more supernatural beings, with kids Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Egon doppelganger Phoebe (McKenna Grace) having particularly memorable encounters with ghostly creatures. A robust supporting cast including Kumail Nanjiani and Patton Oswalt add a sense of freshness to the series, and this is on top of some very welcome lore building developed by Kenan and Reitman.

The supernatural elements expand past ghosts into things that are borrowed from other creative works, like Avatar: The Last Airbender, but still feel like welcome additions to this world. And some of them spark a well-earned, yet so-so arc for Phoebe.

Her character just feels really jerked around this movie. It gives Grace a lot to work with, and leads to some fine acting from Rudd opposite her, but it's a bit like how Ghostbusters 2 was a bit of a "back to square one" after the classic. That is what makes the runtime feel more padded than it actually ends up being. Speaking of the first two movies...

There, of course, is the return of Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson, who this time around get way more screen time. Hudson and Ackroyd especially have memorable arcs, with Hudson's Winston Zeddemore going from a trusty driver to a renowned philanthropist and Ackroyd's Ray Stantz as a podcast host of (what else?) a supernatural show! Potts, meanwhile, gets to step out of her comfort zone from zany secretary to kick-butt Ghostbuster Janine Melnitz. 

The butt-kicking and action is pretty strong as well, as improvements to the Ecto-1 take traversing the New York City streets to new heights. It's brief, but seeing the car whip around with a Proton Pack tearing up the town shows how much promise was in this movie, and how much promise is still left in the franchise. They just need to keep experimenting and testing things out...you know, like scientists.