Adventure Movies

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire review – Hugely entertaining adventure

March 20, 20244 Mins Read

New York itself played a starring role in the original 1980s brace of ‘Busters flicks, and it’s a joy to have it looming large once again, as the new generation of feisty mum Carrie Coon (Egon Spengler’s daughter), her lovably nerdy beau Paul Rudd and teenage offspring Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) move in to a certain old fire station.

Frozen Empire hits the ground running, our 21st-century heroes pursuing the paranormal, specifically a “sewer dragon”, at high speed through the streets of the Big Apple in their beloved former ambulance Ecto-1 (the addition of Phoebe’s gunner seat, first revealed in Afterlife, threatens to become as iconic as anything from the first movies).

It’s very much business as usual – or at least as it once was, which means old foes rear their heads again.

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William Atherton’s stuffy environmental inspector Walter Peck is back, now elevated to high political office and determined as ever to shut the Ghostbusters down, and there are other headaches closer to home.

The otherworldly containment vault at headquarters is just about full, necessitating a move to alternative premises with a larger capacity.

Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), Podcast (Logan Kim), Ray (Dan Aykroyd) and Dr. Hubert Wartzki (Patton Oswalt) in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire gathered together looking at a map

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire. Columbia Pictures

Luckily, ‘Buster of yore Winston (Ernie Hudson) is now a moneyed philanthropist and bankrolls a new state-of-the-art facility, overseen by a tetchy scientist who could become the franchise’s very own Q, a laugh-out-loud turn by British comedian James Acaster.

However, ghostly conspirators are hovering with sabotage in mind…

Hudson isn’t the only one of the old guard in the thick of it, with slightly more substantial contributions from Bill Murray and, especially, Dan Aykroyd than their save-the-day appearances last time around.

Not that they’re urgently required to give proceedings a boost, as the characters introduced in Afterlife by co-writers Gil Kenan (also director) and Jason Reitman (son of the ‘80s film’s director Ivan) aren’t short on comedic chops, and also bring a deeper family dynamic to the party.

Lucky (Celeste O'Connor), Nadeem Razmaadi (Kumail Nanjiani), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Lars Pinfield (James Acaster) in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire gathered in an armoury

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire. Colombia Pictures

As in Afterlife, it’s Grace who stands out, her richly layered portrayal of Phoebe arguably the emotional centre of the film, either when being “benched” from frontline action by her elders, or befriending a seemingly good-hearted ghost of her own age (Emily Alyn Lind) during a game of chess in a park at twilight.

The subsequent tugging of heartstrings may not be to every viewer’s liking, but it never overwhelms the default setting of gag after gag after gag.

This is where the aforementioned Acaster comes into his own, along with strong names from American TV comedy Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley, Veep) and Patton Oswalt (The King of Queens, Bored to Death). It’s an extended ensemble cast not seen on such a scale in the earlier films, and expertly juggled by the writers.

Script and players taken care of, what gives Frozen Empire even more oomph is the wealth of inventive special effects, thanks to technology Reitman senior could have only dreamt of back in the ’80s.

As the title suggests, freezing is significant, not least in the genuinely shocking pre-titles sequence, and there’s more fun from a battalion of tiny Stay Puft marshmallow men, both referencing the original 1984 movie and nodding to the scene-stealing antics of gremlins and minions from other franchises.

It’s hardly a spoiler to reveal that the good guys triumph at the end of a hugely entertaining couple of hours, and provided the makers maintain the so-far impressive quality control there’s no reason why Phoebe and her folks shouldn’t suit up and put the spectres in their place time and again. Let’s face it, who else are you gonna call?

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire will be released on 22nd March.

Check out more of our Sci-Fi or Film coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.

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