'Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire' review: This bustin' makes me feel good


Exactly 40 years after the first movie, we finally have a sequel that manages to recapture some of that lightning in a bottle that the original had. — Photos: Sony Pictures Malaysia

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire
Director: Gil Kenan
Cast: Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Celeste O'Connor, and Logan Kim, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, William Atherton, Kumail Nanjiani, Patton Oswalt, Emily Alyn Lind, James Acaster.

Now that's the way to do a Ghostbusters movie. Exactly 40 years after the first movie, we finally have a sequel that manages to recapture some of that lightning in a bottle that the original had.

Sure, it took one one sequel in 1989, one much-maligned (but still fun) all-female reboot in 2016, and one 'new' sequel in 2016 (Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which introduced the new cast of Ghostbusters) to get here, but at least it got there eventually.

Picking up three years after, er, Afterlife, Phoebe Spengler (McKenna Grace) and her family – mother Callie (Carrie Coon) and brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and her former science teacher and Callie’s boyfriend Gary (Paul Rudd) – are officially operating as Ghostbusters out of the original Firehouse HQ back in New York City.

Alright, who forgot to close the freezer door at the Firehouse again?Alright, who forgot to close the freezer door at the Firehouse again?

The team is bankrolled by none other than former Ghostbuster Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), with the remaining original members – Ray Stanz (Dan Ackroyd), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) and Janice Spengler (Annie Potts) – helping out in various supporting roles.

However, when a ghost chase winds up causing too much citywide damage, the mayor of New York and longtime anti-Ghostbusters lobbyist Walter Peck (William Atherton, reprising his role from the first movie), threatens to shut them down for good.

As usual, there is a much bigger threat looming in the horizon, as Ray gets his hands on a mysterious brass orb that holds an ancient evil that could threaten to destroy the world and plunge it into a new Ice Age.

Can't we just do all this research on the Internet?Can't we just do all this research on the Internet?

Frozen Empire achieves something not even the original’s sequel, 1989’s Ghostbusters 2, failed to do – retain the goofy charm and enhancing the credentials of its core group of Ghostbusters, both new and old.

The fact that the entire cast seems to be having a lot of fun while also playing it straight the entire time also sells the entire admittedly ludicrous premise even better.

Fans of the original will especially love this, and not just because the original cast is back in it once again. There are Easter eggs galore to spot, and also smart callbacks to some of its most memorable jokes and scenes.

Life may be fleeting, but the Ghostbusters are Eternal. Geddit? Eternals?Life may be fleeting, but the Ghostbusters are Eternal. Geddit? Eternals?

That being said, director Gil Kenan resists the temptation to pile on the nostalgia, and adds loads of new elements (new proton packs! Drone traps! An R&D facility!) to help update the Ghostbusters for a new generation.

Of the new characters, James Acaster's research scientist Dr. Lars Pinfield is probably the most interesting addition – a Q-like character that not only takes over Egon's role as the inventor and scientist of the team, but also frees the rest of the members to do what they do best – Ghostbusting.

Patton Oswald's role as a librarian and researcher of the paranormal is small but memorable, but to be honest, we could have done with a lot less screentime for Kumail Nanjiani's annoying slacker dude character.

Unlike Egon, Phoebe never seems to get terrified beyond the capacity of rational thought.Unlike Egon, Phoebe never seems to get terrified beyond the capacity of rational thought.

Kenan also wisely manages the roles of the original cast, giving them just enough screen time for us to get a thrill when we see them, but not too much that they overshadow the newer cast members, especially the movie’s REAL star (sorry, Paul Rudd), McKenna Grace.

In Grace, the franchise has a new lead to take the franchise forward. Since making her debut in Afterlife as the young granddaughter of Egon Spengler, Grace has since grown into the role and made it her own.

She now not only embodies the studious awkwardness of the late Harold Ramis’ character, but also exudes the serious, science-based confidence Egon had while spewing well-known Ghostbusters jargon like ‘ectoplasm’ and ‘psychokinesis’.

Harry Potter's new job involved testing dragon's eggs for evil entitites.Harry Potter's new job involved testing dragon's eggs for evil entitites.

It is in the movie’s final third that it stumbles a little, as the revelation of the ultimate big bad leads to a CGI-overloaded climax that seemed a little rushed and, well, anti-climatic.

It also says a lot that despite all the state-of-the-art CGI technology at its fingertips, Frozen Empire's climatic finale doesn't come close to being as thrilling as the iconic entrance of the kaiju-sized Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in the original. (Sorry, guys, those mini Stay Pufts are cute, but are too Minions-like to be memorable).

That aside, however, Frozen Empire delivers a movie that has most of the things a Ghostbusters fan should love. As long as you’re expecting a fun, entertaining, and somewhat nostalgic ride in the cinema, this bustin' will make you feel good.

8 10

Summary:

Don't hesitate to call, especially if you love the Ghostbusters.

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