Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire – Review

Busting makes anyone feel good, no matter what era you belong to.

Few movies have crossed the streams in mixing the past and the future, because conventional wisdom says you can only belong in one, and not cater to two audiences. But one can argue that the value of an iconic franchise such as Ghostbusters belongs in two worlds, and audiences are the better for it.

Do audiences want to see the original band of ghost hunters – Raymond ‘Ray’ Stantz (Dan Akroyd), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), along with their then secretary, Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts) still track down ghouls across New York City 40 years after their debut? No, life goes on and as much as fans want to watch the original crew of the USS Enterprise, played by their original actors, explore the galaxy, you can’t go back.

And yet, we also recognise that the new generation of Ghostbusters, the Spenglers – mom Callie (Carrie Coon) and her two kids, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) – the daughter and grandchildren of OG Ghostbuster Egon (Harold Ramis), along with former teacher turned boyfriend/father figure Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), haven’t exactly proven themselves worthy to carry those proton packs, so we’re left with a blend of Ghostbusters old and new, carrying the legacy forward in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

In many ways, Frozen Empire is the natural progression of events after 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which introduced us to Egon’s hidden family, reunited the old crew to honour the original film and the passing of Ramis, and take down a returning evil. For those who lamented that the real Ghostbusters only appeared towards the very end of that film, Frozen Empire corrects that mistake and merges both teams.

The new Spengler family have moved to New York City where they’ve reoccupied the original firehouse headquarters, now owned by Zeddemore, who despite being the only member of the original crew in it for the job, now actually makes enough money to continue the legacy of the quartet. Stantz, the original member truly excited to track and capture ghosts serves as a mentor to the Spenglers, who are learning their way around the city and trying to avoid the current mayor of New York, Walter Peck, played with obnoxious glee by returning supporting cast member William Atherton. 

While there are a huge number of characters in play, the story focuses on two, Stantz and Phoebe, each who is the heart of their Ghostbusters team. Though he runs a shop filled with the occult, he’s still pretty much the excitable scientist looking for new artifacts with the supernatural attached to them, helping Zeddemore who is building a new containment unit to replace the old one under the firehouse. Alas, his zeal blinds him to the dangers of busting the supernatural, especially now that there’s 15-year-old Phoebe chasing after aimless spirits, as she tries to honour her grandfather’s legacy, but is deemed too immature and hotheaded. And who better to let their guard down, and get tricked by a spirit to unleash a gigantic terror upon NYC?

If you understood that reference, then you’ll recognise and appreciate that Frozen Empire is filled with massive callbacks to the original film, and director and co-writer Gil Kenan knows what his role is, to maintain the legacy established by fellow co-writer Jason Reitman, who directed the previous film and is the son of Ivan, the director of the first two films in the franchise. Aside from the firehouse, audiences return to the New York Public Library, meet up with old ghostly friends green and white, and while it can be a bit much, there is a lot to appreciate.

What is new is that this marks the first Ghostbusters film to introduce an original villain since the 1989 sequel, and it’s not a ghost, but a demonic god, Garraka. Nadeem Razmaad (Kumail Nanjiani) sells off a relic belonging to his grandmother, not realising it’s a trap until researcher Hubert Wartzki (Patton Oswalt) explains its origin in a massive exposition dump. It’s not the smoothest way to introduce a villain, but it’s not as if the origins of Gozer or Vigo were revealed with greater style. 

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

There’s also the exploration of Phoebe’s growth into an adult and very early on, she abruptly connects with a spirit through a game of chess, the same way she connected with her grandfather in the first movie. There are many ways to explain her relationship with the ghost of Melody (Emily Alyn Lind), in both a lazy narrative way, and as a subtext of an ill-fated relationship doomed to failure because they are of different worlds. But when they do connect, sparks fly greater than a firing proton pack.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

Now that things are being rebuilt, and the team has new proton packs and a containment unit that’s bigger and better, new things are in store for the team. The question is if fans are happy with this conclusion, or if there’s an appetite for more busting to be made.



The gang is back as they should be, and it’s great to have both teams mingle, though some members have to take a back seat. It’s a fun serviceable sequel that makes you wonder what more can be done with the franchise, now that the nostalgia has been delivered.

  • Story - 7/10
  • Direction - 7/10
  • Characterisation - 8/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 8/10