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Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, the Cereal Creatures Review and a Word on Nostalgia

We review "Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire", take a look at the future of the franchise and end with a special comment on those who don't quite get the concept of nostalgia.


Slimer

The Ghostbusters are back, and this time they’re taking on an ancient evil called Garraka, who is keen on bringing about a new ice age. However, it’s not the real Ghostbusters (pun intended); instead, we have Callie Spengler, her two kids—Phoebe and Trevor—and her boyfriend, Gary Grooberson. They’ve inherited the family business from the late Egon Spengler after their victory over Gozer in "Ghostbusters: Afterlife". Back in New York at the firehouse, the family takes the Ecto-1 to the mean streets of Manhattan to bust some ghosts.


The filmmakers, including director Gil Kenan and writer Jason Reitman, drew inspiration from "The Real Ghostbusters" animated series, and this influence is evident throughout the film. We see it in the opening ghost-chasing scene, the machinations involving Slimer living in the firehouse’s attic, and the formidable antagonist, Garraka. It would have been intriguing to encounter a ghost from Winston’s ghostbusting lab—one that appeared in the cartoon (for a moment, I even thought I spotted a Grundel!). Unfortunately, no ghosts from the series or toy lines make an appearance in the movie.


The subplots themselves have a standalone feel, which contributes to the movie feeling somewhat disjointed. Unlike the three previous films (let’s set 2016 aside), which flowed seamlessly (including a touch of slime, ha!), this installment lacks that same cohesion. While everything eventually converges, I believe the flow is impacted by the diverse cast of characters the movie serves. The script could have benefited from one or two additional revisions to tighten it up—potentially making it both scarier and funnier. Nevertheless, there were moments of humor and occasional chills.


Our hot takes:


  • There are too many characters. People seem to appear and then vanish. In addition to the Spengler family and Gary Grooberson—the OG Ghostbusters—we have Janine, Walter Peck, Lucky, and Podcast from Oklahoma. Additionally, Kumail Nanjiani’s Razmaadi plays a Louis Tully-type character, while Patton Oswalt portrays Dr. Hubert Wartzki, a friend of Ray’s. Emily Alyn Lind appears as a ghost, and James Acaster takes on the role of Lars Pinfield, one of Winston’s ghost scientists. That’s quite a roster of characters for a film that runs under two hours.


  • Several scenes featured in the trailers were ultimately cut. Among these were one-liners or moments involving underutilized characters, such as Bill Murray’s Venkman, which could have enriched the film.


  • The mini Stay-Pufts puzzle me. Despite what people say, they do play a role in the plot—albeit a small one. Their presence demonstrates that Garaka has control over ghosts.


  • Unfortunately, the big moments lack payoff. For instance, when the mayor condemns the firehouse and seizes the proton packs, it’s swiftly dismissed in the subsequent scene. The team breaks the lock on the door and retrieves backup packs from Winston’s stash. Curiously, no one seems concerned about the fate of the containment unit, even if the firehouse were to be demolished.


  • The film features all the classic ghostbusting gear, including the iconic Ecto-1 and the Ecto-C (if I read that correctly). Ray’s bike, somewhat inspired by its cartoon counterpart, makes an appearance as well—though it’s referred to as Ecto-3 in the animated series.


  • The Phoebe and her ghost friend scenes felt out of place. They didn’t feel like something that would be in Ghostbusters. I know there were friendly ghosts in the cartoon and even Egon in the previous movie, but it seemed forced. Suddenly, a girl ghost shows up out of nowhere. Maybe the character just needed a better backstory or even had some connection to the OG Ghostbusters, but it just felt forced to fit a plot point.


  • Garraka’s backstory and the flashback to the early 1900’s New York (including the firehouse as a, well, firehouse) was great. Like Vigo, it was completely original and spooky.


  • Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson stand out in every scene they are in. Especially Aykroyd. The “we’re too damn old” for this conversation between Ray and Winston was perfect. These three could carry a movie by themselves.


There are more ghosts to bust...


If I were doing the next one, I would go back to the old formula and this is probably an unpopular take. I would keep Paul Rudd, Kumail Nanjiani, Patton Oswalt, Dan Aykroyd and either Finn Wolfhard or McKenna Grace and make it a rag tag team again. Annie Potts is great, so keep her. Ernie Hudson and Bill Murray can still appear, but neither Winston nor Peter appear to be that interested in being Ghostbusters. Winston wants to further the science, but not by being on the ground. I’m not sure what Peter’s story is. He’s just there when the plot needs him—or not. I assume that’s more Bill Murray, which is perfectly fine with me. The Spengler family subplot has played out and I think that is part of what held this movie back as opposed to Afterlife where it pushed the story forward.


A word on nostalgia


Some people seem to misunderstand what nostalgia truly means. They believe that any connection to a previous installment of a movie or TV show automatically qualifies as nostalgia bait—something deliberately aimed at appealing to old fans. I find this perspective puzzling. Continuity used to be praised. Why is it that if there’s a link to something that came before, it’s considered tainted and not genuinely theirs to embrace? Instead, these same Millennial and Gen Z “experts” feel the need to shit on EVERYTHING. Now, movie critics may have their own reasons for their deconstruction, but those professing the same critiques online are certainly only do so for "clicks" and "views".

As I penned this very paragraph, I happened to watch the "Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice" trailer. The sequel to the 1989 movie, which graced screens 36 years ago, is set to release this fall. The trailer introduces Jenna Ortega, whom we recognize as Lydia’s daughter, alongside Lydia herself, her mom, and the enigmatic Ghost with the Most. A wistful rendition of the Banana song serves as the backdrop. Yet, despite this nostalgic nod, some dismiss it as mere bait. “Nostalgia bait! Don’t even bother with the film!—those were the comments I encountered regarding the trailer.


My point is that "Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire" is an enjoyable movie that may not be for every movie goer. But that doesn't mean it should be panned on social media and saddled with bad reviews from critics. The movie sets out to do what a fourth movie in a franchise should do: carry the torch, entertain and tell a good story. It wasn't perfect, but it is certainly worth a trip to the theatre.


Our score:

7.5 out of 10 on the PKE Meter

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