Out in the cold

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (12, 115 minutes)

For the fifth film to carry the Ghostbusters branding to improve on its predcessor would surely not be a difficult task as I consider 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife to be one of the worst high budget films ever made – it’s basically nostalgia porn with the late Harold Ramis recreated digitally as the ghost of Egon Spengler.

So, all that’s needed to salvage something.. ANYTHING out of this bottom of the barrel dreg of a movie is one good thing. Just one.

Well, let’s start with the screenplay, written by director Gil Kenan, Jason Riteman and his late father Ivan, who directed the 1984 hit and to whom this film is dedicated.

I call it a screenplay because there is one buried somewhere beneath the huge list of characters either they or the studio considered to be vital to the movie.

Aykroyd and Hudson are in, but we need all three surviving original ghostbusters. How do we write Bill Murray in? Who cares? Hence when he does finally make his return appearance as Dr Peter Venkman, the king of the straight-facd wiscrack doesn’t get a single gag to brighten up proceedings.

Annie Potts is still alive. How do we write her in? Who cares?

Let’s get Walter Peck the environmental safety guy back from the first film. He’s still alive. Let’s make him the mayor.

Patton Oswalt? Yeah, OK throw him into the mix too – and the Stay Pufft dough boy(s).

James Acaster? JAMES ACASTER??

With one of the franchise’s creators on board in Dan Aykroyd, surely he could have made sense of things rather than having all these disparate elements on paper and metaphorically throwing them against the wall like a student’s underpants to see if it sticks.

Egon’s daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) and her kids Trevor and Phoebe (Finn Wolfhard and McKenna Grace) are now ensconced in the old firehouse HQ with love interest Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd, following the dreadful last Ant Man movie with another stinker) and the Ghostbusters are back in business bankrolled by Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), who is also heading an academy training future ghostbusters which has new storage facilities built to house the four decades worth of captured spirits squeezed into the dangerously full vault at the fire station.

Phoebe finds herself sidelined as a minor and prevented by the mayor from working for the family business. This doesn’t stop her from getting involved as an ancient relic unleashes an unconvincing spindly-fingered evil force and Ghostbusters old and new must act to save New York, and ultimately the planet, from a second ice age.

It all adds up to a big mess in which too many characters are crammed into less than two hours which means none of them are adequately served by the storyline, which also squeezes in a sub plot in which the brains of the operation is a 15-year old going through all the things that adolescent girls go through as they try to figure out their place in the world and her newly extended family unit.

Humourless, pointless and a cure for insomnia.

Better than Afterlife, but not much.

RATING: 2/10

Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk