27 Mar 2024

Review: Ghostbusters Frozen Empire

From At The Movies, 7:00 pm on 27 March 2024

I was rather surprised at the apparent enthusiasm for the latest Ghostbusters reboot. Particularly in America or perhaps I should say, particularly in New York, which is where all but the last film were set.  

When the iconic Ghostbusters car - according to my notes - was seen careering around the Big Apple, New Yorkers went nuts, apparently.

Adding to the excitement was the fact that the new, younger cast-members of the last Ghostbusters epic were going to be joined by the old ones - or as we say these days, “the legacy cast”. 

Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and the ghost of Harold Ramis appeared briefly in cameo roles in Ghostbusters Afterlife.  But now they’re back for good in Ghostbusters Frozen Empire.

Is “for good” the phrase I’m looking for? Along the way they’re joined by other old cast-members hauled out of retirement, like William Atherton playing “pompous idiot” again.  

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Photo: Screenshot

And Annie Potts who apparently played the Busters’ receptionist Melnitz back in the day. If you say so.

Nominally front and centre though are Egon Spangler’s daughter Callie and her two young teens, Phoebe and Trevor.  

The Spanglers are carrying on the family business back in New York, along with Carrie’s doofus fiancé Gary Grooberson - Paul Rudd at his most Paul Rudd.

But while the Spanglers are chasing things like The Hell’s Kitchen Sewer Dragon, there’s something strange in the neighbourhood. 

Former Ghostbuster Ray Stantz – Dan Aykroyd – is running a paranormal junk shop. And one day he’s offered a mysterious orb.

What’s in the orb?  Ray shows it to the current Ghostbusters and their landlord, the Paranormal Research Centre.  

Among the researchers is English comedian James Acaster who – like Bill Murray before him – adds some unpredictability to Ghostbusters Frozen Empire.

It transpires that there’s a big scary ghost inside the orb – as opposed to the cute, green, slimy ones they’ve been tackling up to now.

It’s a ghost that promises to supply chills on top of the usual thrills and spills. Look out New York, there’s a cold front planning to freeze the entire city.

As I say, this is a promise that depends on some pre-existing audience enthusiasm for Ghostbusters. Will Sigourney Weaver return? Will that gigantic marshmallow snowman stride down Broadway again? And most important, will the now famously prickly Bill Murray get back into the suit?

Well, the answer to the last question is easy.  Yes, Bill’s back as Peter Venkman, though he’s now a sentimental guest appearance rather than the comedy act of God he used to be.  

Certainly, the film looks enormous and expensive. But the trouble is, everything looks enormous and expensive these days. Is that the same as entertaining, I wonder?

Apparently, I’m not the only one wondering. Among my audience of aging, nostalgia freaks for Ghostbusters Frozen Empire were a couple of 12-year-old boys – the sort of kids who flocked to the original all those years ago.  

They clearly wanted to like it, and to their credit, they lasted the distance.

But as Frozen Empire plodded on, I could hear the tell-tale sounds of a film that had ceased to grip – two 12-year-old boys chatting among themselves about something else.  

As for me, I enjoyed James Acaster, Patten Oswalt and even Bill Murray at times. But would I have enjoyed them more in something else?  Absolutely.

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