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Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is a serviceable sequel that starts off well but gradually gets bogged down in an underdeveloped narrative that fails to pleasingly juggle new and legacy characters.

Though it stumbled in its final act, I was pleasantly surprised by 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which rebooted the long-dormant franchise with a deft mix between loving homage and 21st century filmmaking. Setting the sequel in the old New York stomping ground should have resulted in an even more pleasing film, but Frozen Empire hardly ever captures the Ghostbusters magic.

Considering the first 25 minutes are an entertaining – if hardly original – blast and introduce an intriguing, formidable villain, I was bracing for Frozen Empire to outdo the previous film. But after the first act the picture grinds to a halt and never finds another gear to kickstart the story once more.

Chess pieces are put on the board throughout, with subplots including an emotional bond with a teenage ghost and new addition Kumail Nanjiani’s efforts to master fire bending skills being the most memorable, but they are in a perpetual stalemate, due to a script that continuously grinds its gears in the hope you’ll be blown away by the third act confrontation.

Alas, I was not. Even if you look past the predictable showdown between the Ghostbusters and the demon trying to freeze over New York, the new cast doesn’t get enough to do to involve you in their character arcs, while the old gang – with the exception of Ernie Hudson – seems either uninterested in being part of the tale (Bill Murray) or is just plainly hamming it up (Dan Aykroyd).

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire want to have it both ways – honouring the eighties original and forging forward with new storylines and characters – but ends up being fish nor fowl. All its entertaining qualities aside, that still counts as a disappointment in my book.

release: 2024

director: Gil Kenan

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


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