Adventure Comedy

Review: ‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ is a Spooky Good Time that Proves the Beloved Franchise’s Trademark Formula is Still as Fun as Ever

March 20, 2024Ben MK

A movie franchise that has often made the short list of some of the most iconic films ever, the Ghostbusters series has withstood the test of time. From Ivan Reitman's 1984 original, which introduced audiences to the core four of Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler, Peter Venkman and Winston Zeddemore, to its 1989 followup, Ghostbusters II, and the all-female 2016 reboot, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, the franchise has always managed to capture the imaginations of viewers with its unique combination of comedic thrills and spooky chills. And with Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, the old gang is back to prove the formula is still as fun as ever, in this fifth installment of the beloved series.

Picking up two years after 2021's Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the story finds the descendants of the Ghostbusters' late co-founder, Egon Spengler — his daughter Callie (Carrie Coon), 15-year-old granddaughter Phoebe (McKenna Grace), and 18-year-old grandson Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) — following in his footsteps by picking up their proton packs and moving into the very same firehouse that Egon and his friends once called their headquarters. Along with Callie's boyfriend, former science teacher Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), Callie and her two children have left their old lives behind in favor of patrolling the streets of New York City in the Ecto-1 to chase down and trap the occasional spectre that threatens to wreak havoc on the Big Apple. However, when a man named Nadim (Kumail Nanjiani) brings a mysterious spherical artifact to Ray's (Dan Aykroyd) occult book shop, it sets into motion a chain of events that will have the Ghostbusters facing their most formidable foe yet.

A relic containing a malevolent demonic entity known as Garraka and bristling with supernatural energy, the artifact, of course, piques the interest of Ray, who hands it over to Winston (Ernie Hudson), the man behind the city's new Paranormal Research Center, where he and his small army of scientists have made it their mission to analyze and study spectral phenomenon that would otherwise be dismissed by mainstream science. What they soon discover, though, may be more than what any of them are prepared to handle. And when Garraka tricks Phoebe into unleashing him from his centuries-old confinement and begins to set about enslaving every ghost the Ghostbusters have every captured to do his bidding, the Spenglers must call upon the expertise of Ray, Winston and Peter (Bill Murray), as they all team up to try and prevent the end of the world.

Written by Gil Kenan and Jason Reitman and directed by Kenan, what follows thankfully lives up to the promise made by Afterlife's climactic final act, which featured a late-third-act cameo by the three surviving, original Ghostbusters, as they faced off against their old enemy, Gozer, to rescue Callie and her family. This time around, however, the original crew play a much more active role in the narrative. And while that's not to say the new characters don't also get their moments to shine — in fact, quite far from it — it makes this entry feel much more like a well-deserved passing of the torch than its predecessor, which in turn goes a long way in helping Frozen Empire feel more connected to the first two movies in the franchise.

It all adds up to a followup that's as much a love letter to the original as it is a worthy adventure in its own right. And while there are bound to be those who will accuse the film of relying on moviegoers' nostalgia for the past, true Ghostbusters fans will know a spooky good time at the movies when they see it. Either way, there's ample fun to be had for those willing to sit back and enjoy the ride. And if you’re a die-hard lover of the series, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire may just be the Ghostbusters sequel you’ve been waiting for.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire releases March 22nd, 2024 from Sony Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for supernatural action/violence, language and suggestive references. Its runtime is 1 hr. 55 min.

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