Review: ‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’

The Ghostbusters Go Back To Their Old Stomping Grounds In Energetic Sequel That Brings The Franchise Alive

Who ya gonna call? Two generations of Ghostbusters reunite when New York is hit by a supernatural coldsnap in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, an energetic, funny continuation of the franchise and the first that truly feels like it’s found the right groove. A big part of the reason is a return to the Big Apple. No offense to Oklahoma but the Ghostbusters and New York are forever linked, and it opens the doors to a more nostalgic, fan-service film that is a real winner.

A sequel to 2021’s crowd-pleasing Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Frozen Empire is just as delightful. Carrie Coon returns as the daughter of the late Egon Spengler, with Finn Wolfhard and McKenna Grace as his grandchildren, Trevor and Phoebe. Joined by Paul Rudd’s Gary Grooberson, they have left the family home in Oklahoma and taken up shop in the same iconic firehouse of the original Ghostbusters. The o.g. Team, played once again by legends Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Ernie Hudson, and even Annie Potts who gets in the action this time, has taken Ghostbusting to a new technological level. It’s just in time as the discovery of an ancient artifact buries New York in a new Ice Age.

Legacy and the passing of the torch once again is key to the revitalized Ghostbusters franchise. While Jason Reitman, son of longtime series director and producer Ivan Reitman, has exited as director, he stays aboard to pen a script that owes a lot to the original films, including some fun and unexpected returns. Taking over behind the camera is Gil Kenan, whose previous experience on the brilliant animated film Monster House informs his approach to the material. He has a skill for blending humor and horror in a way that can shake everyone up, from kids to adults. But the emphasis is always on fun, and making sure that Ghostbusters is the kind of experience families can enjoy together. No offense to Reitman, but this is right in Kenan’s wheelhouse and he should be put in charge of future films, too.

This being a sequel, matching the freshness of the previous film is a high bar, and Frozen Empire’s story is a bit thin. But there’s also no denying how good it is to see the gang get back together again, and I must admit a real fondness for Annie Potts’ Janine Melnitz and I loved seeing her finally suit up. It’s long overdue. New additions to the franchise such as Kumail Nanjiani and Patton Oswalt are clearly having a blast, and fans should prepare themselves for a few big surprises affecting characters they know and love. Phoebe, ostracized because of her youth, connects in a potentially romantic way with a beautiful ghost (Emily Alyn Lind) longing to be reunited with her family. Then there’s Garraka, a demon mummy on a path of cold vengeance against the world. He unleashes a chill that drives frozen spikes up from the soil, through cars and presumably through people, not that we ever see it. Gotta keep it all-ages friendly, after all.

With callbacks to the Ghostbusters of yesteryear, some new gizmos, and new characters who could be sticking around a while, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire has its paranormal feet in the past and future. Nothing against Afterlife, which I quite enjoyed, only now does this franchise feel like more than a shade of its former self.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire opens in theaters on March 22nd.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire
Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.
review-ghostbusters-frozen-empireWho ya gonna call? Two generations of Ghostbusters reunite when New York is hit by a supernatural coldsnap in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, an energetic, funny continuation of the franchise and the first that truly feels like it's found the right groove. A big part...