Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire review - One bust too many?

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire review – One bust too many?

The latest Ghostbusters has an air of Indiana Jones about it, but who is the movie aimed at? We ain’t afraid of no review for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.

It opens with a few lines of verse from Robert Frost. Geddit? It’s a neat enough way of kicking off Ghostbusters:Frozen Empire, but comes with a built-in question. Who exactly is the film aimed at? The fans of the previous outings, especially the original, are a given: there are still legions of them. But who else? With the best will in the world, younger audiences who enjoyed Afterlife aren’t necessarily going to be drawn in by some lines from a Pulitzer prize winning poet. So, just fans then. Really?

Full of familiar locations and characters, the narrative aims to be bigger and louder than before. The Spengler family, who we met in Afterlife, together with Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), have set up home in the Ghostbuster’s fire station. New York is still plagued by spooks and Winston (Ernie Hudson) is funding a secret lab to take ghost busting to the next level. Elsewhere, retired Ghostbuster Ray Stanz (Dan Aykroyd) purchases a rare artefact housing an ancient ghost, one that aims to use its force to plunge the entire planet into a new Ice Age. So who are we gonna call? We all know the answer…

That historical angle brings the film close to being Ghostbusters Meet Indy, and maybe it’s an attempt to reach a wider audience. The end result is entertaining, with a full-tilt opening and a strong finale, bolstered by some good performances – Rudd is on his best likeably goofy form – but it sags in the middle. A clutch of sub-plots weigh it down further with their inability to give the narrative some much-needed impetus. And the unexplained disappearance – and equally sudden return – of one of the main characters is a mystery the film definitely doesn’t need.

Anybody who’s seen the first two films or Afterlife will have fun picking up all the references and being reunited with the original members of the gang. The new characters are still engaging – we don’t see enough of Podcast (Logan Kim) – and the addition of boffin James Acaster, channelling his inner Michael Caine, is a surprising, if not wholly successful, addition. But while it has plenty going for it, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire seems to have backed itself into a corner with nowhere to go and little idea of its audience. Who do they need to call?

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire releases in UK cinemas on 22 March 2024.

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