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Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire savaged by critics as 'shameful' rehash

Phoebe Spengler (Mckenna Grace) in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.
Mckenna Grace in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, which has been criticised by some reviewers for rehashing old material. (Sony)

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire has landed in cinemas, but don't expect it to be fun to call your favourite ghoul-wranglers if the critic response is anything to go by.

The film follows on from the 2021 Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which introduced us to a new set of plucky heroes, including Egon Spengler's daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) and his grandchildren Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard). Now the team, alongside Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), are ready to bust some ghosts just like their the late great Egon, and they have their work cut out for them when a Death Chill lands in New York City.

Read more: Ghostbusters movies ranked from worst to best

As well as including the new Ghostbusters, the sequel brings back the old gang too like Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson as well as a whole host of other characters from the good old days. Ahead of the film's release, though, critics shared scathing criticism of it.

For the most part, critics weren't too impressed with Frozen Empire with many pointing out the tired plot and empty fan-service, which all led to the movie feeling more like a rehash of old material than something exciting and new.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (Sony Pictures)
The Telegraph called Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire a 'shameful' sequel that will have audiences 'dying of boredom'. (Sony Pictures)

The Telegraph's Robbie Collin did not mince words when reflecting on the film, calling it a "shameful" sequel that will have audiences "dying of boredom". He wrote: "There is a noxious undead pong emanating from this latest entry in the 1980s franchise, which is now being necromantically sustained through force of sheer commercial desperation, and nothing else."

Collin also criticised: "This fifth film has no ideas, next to no plot, and almost no ghost-busting either."

IndieWire's Kate Erbland felt similarly, saying of the film: "Despite being crammed with characters — the final big battle includes no less than eleven good guys, Kenan can barely keep them all in frame, let alone fighting back — and packed with subplots, little of Frozen Empire makes a lick of sense."

The critic also argued that the film doesn't make it easy to want more, writing: "This franchise might not be entirely dead just yet, but its latest resurrection doesn’t make nearly enough good arguments to keep pumping life into it."

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (Sony Pictures)
Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire brings back a number of old favourites, but some critics felt it wasn't needed. (Sony Pictures)

Empire's Alex Godfrey gave the film just two stars, writing: "This is nifty work — and a good gang! But it soon becomes apparent that underneath the exploits there’s just not much for them to do. Nowhere of real substance for the Ecto-1 to go. This old jalopy is running out of road."

Reflecting on how the sequel compared to its predecessor, the critic added: "Afterlife presented a fleshed-out family drama that grounded the whole thing, the ghostly goings-on playing second fiddle to a portrayal of sadness and love, and while this one explores the family’s growing pains, it does so with the broadest of strokes, buried under an unwieldy plot, crushed under the film’s obsession with its legacy. The life is squashed out of it."

It wasn't all negative though, as there were a few critics who enjoyed the film. Deadline's Damon Wise wrote: "It is confusing at times, and not everything works, but Frozen Empire does a very good job of keeping the flame alive, 40 years after the fact."

The critic added that the film's fan service was more of a hindrance than anything, writing: "Unusually for a reboot, this fan service actually gets in the way of what’s good about this new iteration: Rudd and Coon have a warm and understated flaky chemistry that really works, while Wolfhard and — especially — Grace feel real, awkward and honest in a way that blockbuster teenagers haven’t in a long time."

Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), Lars Pinfield (James Acaster), Podcast (Logan Kim) and Ray (Dan Aykroyd) in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.
It wasn't all bad though, as The Independent called the film 'funny, silly, and a little scary'. (Sony)

Variety's Owen Gleiberman spoke of how Frozen Empire "has to work even harder to invent a reason for itself to exist", adding: "Frozen Empire has enough going on in it to connect, but now that Jason Reitman and company have brought this series back to life, it’s time to re-infuse it with the spirit that Kumail Nanjiani brings. In a Ghostbusters film, the laughter should be more than just a ghost of itself."

The Independent's Clarisse Loughrey called the film "a notable improvement on Afterlife" and said it was "funny, silly, and a little scary, with its pockets full of hand-built doodahs and the occasional excursion into the realm of pseudo-mythology and parapsychology."

The critic went on to say of the film: "It’s a little bloated, too, with a somewhat queerbaiting, spectral love interest who throws up unnecessary ethical questions about the Ghostbusters’ practices. But, here, at least, we’re firmly on the way to a Ghostbusters film that actually feels like a Ghostbusters film."

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire premieres in cinemas on Friday, 22 March.

Watch the trailer for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire: