Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire slips on the ice

Fri. March 22, 2024 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

The Ghostbuster franchise needs to chill out for a while judging by Frozen Empire's attempts at continuing the 40-year dynasty. If the sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife had been served in the summer, instead of debuting in cold March, or even December when it was originally scheduled for release, viewers could be more forgiving. A wintery reception from critics has not warmed up early ticket sales and Empire may hit streaming services so fast that Slimer's head spins.

Beginning with a Robert Frost quote projected across the big screen from his 1923 poem Fire and Ice sets up a lofty goal for the Ghostbuster gang. The Spengler family returns to New York City with high hopes for the future but that quickly fades away as an evil presence gives The Big Apple a frosty treatment. Unfortunately, this new wraith's voice is so overproduced with a garbled speech pattern that he's almost impossible to understand.

The budget for the special effects seems to be spent on cast members instead of turning New York into a frozen tundra. The producers try to pair the old franchise with the new characters but it never meshes well.

Returning from the past, performers Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Annie Potts skate back into their parts and luckily leave unscathed while snatching up hefty paychecks. Poor Ernie Hudson gets the short end of the stick again for his contribution and the number of words on the page.

As far as the new kids on the block, Paul Rudd provides a few improvisational jokes in the role of Gary Grooberson at the beginning but the limiting script ambushes even his best efforts down the line. Finn Wolfhard as Trevor Spengler is another one that suffers from the inflated cast and sidekick Logan Kim as Podcast adds fuel to that fire.

A ghostly queer romance appears out of nowhere but the thrill of what the relationship could become quickly melts away. It's a watered-down mess with no real gravity or LGBTQ+ reveal. Looking for a boo can be challenging at any age, especially for those experiencing a harsh Ice Age outside their home, but this relationship was full of red lights from the jump. What could have been an interesting piece to the Ghostbuster legacy needed an entire film respectfully dedicated to the subject matter. Instead, it's just another component of a bloated marshmallow mess.

The writers somehow squeeze in new blood too with Kumail Ali Nanjiani taking up valuable time in the role of the fiery Nadeem Razmaadi and Patton Oswalt pops in as Dr. Hubert Razmaadi. These secondary characters weigh down the overall flow and steal focus from following the family.

The Frozen Empire motto seems to be more and more sprinkled in with a little nostalgia to satisfy the dedicated following of the franchise. Local group Windy City Ghostbusters have been together for over 10 years and use their tan jumpsuits and proton packs for good to raise money for charity. These diehard enthusiasts are just part of the population that Sony Pictures hopes to cash in on because of a built in Ghostbuster following.

The average ticket holder will see the cracks in this iceberg of a project long before the glacial pace of 125 minutes is over.

The creators could turn their efforts to a live-action television tale after the previous success of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series. This would give the writers time to flesh out the story properly and perhaps add a classic cameo to enhance the episode.

Frozen Empire should have remained on ice until spring to make adjustments and edit the convoluted plot. When there's something strange in the neighborhood movie theater pick a different flick to watch instead of this sequel. “Who you gonna call?” Not Frozen Empire.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire haunts cinemas beginning on March 22, 2024.