Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire Is A Nostalgic Callback For Fans Of The Series

“When there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call…Ghostbusters!”, the theme song to one of the most iconic movies of the 1980’s still resonates with audiences everywhere. Even some forty years later, it still brings goosebumps to our arms and raises the hairs on our neck. I was twelve when it was first released in theaters, and now forty years later I still get the urge to sing along whenever it plays on the radio.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is the latest adventure for our boys (and girls) in grey. Set roughly three years after Afterlife, the young Spengler family along with teacher turned love interest Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd) are hard at work busting ghosts in New York City, operating out of the original firehouse headquarters their mentors had back in the 80s when ghosts were ravaging the city. Phoebe Spengler (McKenna Grace) struggles with her desire to be a Ghostbuster and navigate young adulthood. Her brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) wants nothing more than to be treated as an adult and as a full-fledged member of the team. Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd) along with Callie Spengler (Carrie Coon) are still trying to identify what they are to one another even as they embrace the challenges that ghost hunting presents. In a world that still looks to them as both saviors and demolition teams, the “family” must unite with both old and new friends alike to confront a growing evil that once again threatens to destroy the world (and city) they call home.

Written by Jason Reitman and directed by Gil Kenan, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire looks to continue the saga that the late great Ivan Reitman and Harold Ramis created so many years ago. Along for the ride again this time are Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts, the original ghost fighting team. There are several special guest appearances as well, which for the sake of not spoiling it I’ll leave out of this review. Suffice it to say, if you felt Spider-man: No Way Home was full of guest surprises, just wait until you get your eyes on Frozen Empire.

Frozen Empire, while still great fun for the entire family, delves more into the backstory of its characters, and lore. Lacking much of the action-packed sequences its predecessors possessed, it still delivers a visual spectacle when it so chooses. Favorites from the previous films return, in particular the Stay-Puft marshmallow minis that were a crowd favorite in Afterlife.

One area where this film (and thinking back to Afterlife as well) lacks, where both Ghostbusters and its sequel excelled, was the musical soundtrack. While everyone is familiar with the theme song, the original soundtrack was chock-full of toe-tapping and dance-stomping songs. Many will remember when the spirits are freed from their containment unit the song “Savin’ the Day” by the Alessi Brothers, or “Cleaning Up the Town” by The Busboys. Even Bobby Brown got into the action with the Billboard Hot 100 hit song “On Our Own”. Much of the orchestral score from the previous films still lives on in Frozen Empire, but the lack of its own theme song is a stark contrast to the films that came before it.

Contrary to its name Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire feels much more like a summer blockbuster, versus a spring break type of movie. This had me wondering if releasing now, versus saving it for a summer release might not have been the best decision. It certainly is a movie that will draw a crowd, and if the reaction to the film afterward was any indication of success, then I believe it will absolutely succeed. It’s just an odd time for a release, after the Christmas holiday and before Memorial Day weekend. Maybe it was trying to avoid competition or be one of the best movies showing right now, it’ll be interesting to see how it does at the box office after opening weekend. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say it will be the highest-grossing movie in March but with little to no real competition that isn’t going to be a true indicator of its box office success.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is a fun, nostalgic adventure through the Ghostbusters universe. There are so many hidden easter eggs and celebrity cameos that watching all the movies prior to seeing this might not be a bad suggestion. You certainly will enjoy it if you don’t know the difference between a Proton Pack and a Lightsaber, but it’s the search for the hidden nods to the previous films that contribute to much of its enjoyment. Frozen Empire is a lot slower-paced than the previous foray into ghostbusting, which could be a turnoff for some folks. It’s deeper than the previous films, focusing on what it means to be a teen, a family, and a team, that’s not to say it isn’t fun, just more thoughtful than what I was expecting. If you are a fan of the previous films this is a definite must-watch, if you haven’t been, it is different enough that you might just find something to like here where you hadn’t before. Just remember, “If there’s something weird, and it doesn’t look good…who you gonna call?” …you know the answer.

4 out of 5 stars



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