Ghosts Of Blockbuster Past Hold Back The Franchise’s Future


Speaking of which, when we’re not focused on Phoebe’s ghostly girlfriend, we’re watching her poke around with Ray, Podcast, Lars, Lucky, and sometimes Trevor to figure out exactly what’s up with the brass orb. Despite breaking a PKE meter, Ray doesn’t ask the Paranormal Research Center to make it a top priority. Even after Lars and Lucky inadvertently lose power in the entire lab after trying to extract the spirit within the orb using new Ghostbusters technology, there’s no urgency to further understand it.

There’s also no other real lingering threat from other ghosts throughout the movie, despite the presence of specters that are being studied in the lab. Sure, the loss of power in the lab results in a moment of tension where it seems like a sinister spirit and a tiny little spark of a ghost that possesses inanimate objects might become a problem, but only one of them turns out to cause trouble, and it’s only to further the larger plot. Honestly, the most entertaining paranormal activity in “Frozen Empire,” other than the opening chase after a sewer dragon ghost, is the return of the mischievous Mini Pufts, the diabolical, tiny versions of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man who always seem to be burning, stabbing, tearing, and melting each other in amusingly twisted ways. They’re like the Gremlins of the “Ghostbusters” universe, and even though it makes zero sense for them to still be around after the fall of Gozer in “Afterlife,” they’re a lot of fun. 

Yes, Slimer is back in “Frozen Empire” too, but he really only exists to give Trevor something to do while all the other characters are busy. Even though he’s brought to life again beautifully with practical effects, his presence feels shoehorned in for the sake of nostalgia. Honestly, the same can be said for the presence of the original cast too. Their involvement could have and should have been minimal, but much like Ray seems desperate to keep his golden years alive by being part of the Ghostbusters again, co-writers Gil Kenan and Jason Reitman couldn’t help but serve up another helping of original Ghostbusters to keep the longtime fans feeling good. But as one of those dedicated fans, I can safely say that the best option for the “Ghostbusters” franchise is to let the next generation take charge without dragging the old gang along. While it’s fun to see Janine suited up in Ghostbusters gear and Venkman grabbing an old bottle of whiskey hidden in the firehouse, the roster of characters is far too big and too difficult to maintain in a satisfying way. 

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