Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire - Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire


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Movie: :3stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :3stars:
Final Score: :4stars:




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Movie

As a child of the 80s, this last decade has been fascinating to watch Hollywood lean so heavily into nostalgia, made all the more fun by nostalgia straight from my generation’s formative years. I grew up on Ghostbusters 1 and 2 as a young child (I still remember the slimer pops with gumball eyes that you could get from the ice cream truck) and remember being HORRIBLY disappointed with the 2016 all female remake. Not because it was a female cast, but because it didn’t have an iota of the same charm and fun that the original had. It was filled with already dated 2010 era SNL humor, a weak plot, and the deck was already stacked against it when fans saw the whole “lets do the same thing, but make everyone gender swapped!” as nothing but a plot at cannibalizing original source material. Then couple that with the Covid-19 pandemic tearing the film world apart for a couple of years starting at the end of 2019, and you can rightfully guess that I wasn’t even willing to give 2021’s Ghostbuster: Afterlife a chance. Heck, I didn’t even bother seeing it in theaters even though it was just one of a handful of films that got released theatrically that year. I wanted NOTHING to do with what I considered a dead franchise at that point.

However, I started hearing rumblings and chatter from people I trusted (and randoms online) that Afterlife was actually pretty fun. So, I grabbed a streaming rental after having a couple of shots of vodka one night (I had credit saved up in my Amazon account) and gave it a spin. Color me surprised to find out that it was actually pretty good. Not Ghostbusters or Ghostbusters 2 good, but it was NOWHERE Ghostbusters 2016. Paul Rudd was charming as usual, and it sort of passed the torch onto a new group of ghostbusters, and used the 2020’s era “memberberries” nostalgia bait trick with most of the original cast (sans Harold Raimis of course) to aid in the hand off.

So, all of that to say, I was more than willing to give Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire a chance when it came out. After doing a double feature this evening of Afterlife (to catch up again) and Frozen Empire, it’s pretty obvious that Afterlife is the better film. That’s not saying that Frozen Empire isn’t good, it’s just not AS fun and exciting as its predecessor. We pick up where we left off in Afterlife, with the Spengler Family (now with Gary married to Mrs. Spengler) taking over the work as New York’s official Ghostbusters. Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson, reprising his role) has bankrolled the family, setting them up in the old fire house with the old gear, and a smattering of brand new tech thanks to his company’s resources.

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However, things go awry when Dr. Stantz (Dan Aydkroyd) comes across a mysterious artifact that that is exuding INSANE amounts of spectral power. Thinking that it’s just your run of the mill ghost possessed artifact, everyone just decides to study it while the rest of the crew is busy mopping up ghosts on the city streets. BUUUUUUT, as we all know, artifacts like these are never benign. Turns out that it’s the prison of an ancient evil deity known as Garraka, who was bound to the device thousands of years ago for sort of being a world dominating megalomaniac. Thanks to Phoebe (Grace McKenna) crushing out on a young ghost girl who just wants to see her family on the other side, Garraka is released upon the world, now it’s up to the Ghostbusters (both new and old) to put the demonic entity back in his forever prison before he turns the world into a frozen empire (yes, that was a shameless title plug right there)…….and hopefully not cross the streams at the same time.

Frozen Empire can best be summed up as “it’s a middle of the road film”. By that I mean it’s not bad, but it’s not great either. It simply exists. The story for Frozen Empire is as paper thin as they go, and sort of steal from Ghostbusters 2 AND some of Afterlife at the same time. Garraka is a supernatural deity version of Zul, and the memberberries is HEAVY this go around as the old cast actually comes into the story as full fledged main characters (except for Bill Murray, who pops in for a 5 minute finale hamming it up to level 10 and looking both bemused and bored at the same time).

Sadly most of the frustration with the film stems from the fact that this is sort of like X-Men: Days of Future Past. It’s a film that was ok, and used the “old and the new cast in one movie” technique to try and get old fans in with the new. Only thing is, that just like Days of Future Past most people got excited to see Bill Murrray, Ernie Hudson and Dan Aykroyd on screen again, only for their enthusiasm to wane when the new cast gets screen time. Again, I’m not saying that the new cast is bad. Paul Rudd is solid as he always is, and Finn Wolfhard is charming as ever. My only real problem comes from the Phoebe storyline, which sort of turns her into the macguffin character of the film. They use a modern trope where the youngest kid is the most maligned, and most intelligent in the group, but all of the adults just won’t listen to her, and she ends up being the one who saves the day. Combine that with the fact that Phoebe’s moping felt like it was simply a plot device to keep her separated from the rest of the group, and you’ll see what I mean. I will give props to William Atherton who reprises his roll of Mayor Peck. Atherton is a GOD at playing douche bags you want to punch in the mouth, and that’s exactly what you wanna do here. Give him a solid pop in the nose Die Hard style.




Rating:

Rated PG-13 for supernatural action/violence, language and suggestive references.




Video: :4.5stars:
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Using the Arri Alexa LF Mini camera system and given a native 4K master, Frozen Empire looks stunning on Blu-ray. Maybe not AS good as the 4K UHD disc, but it’s still a killer looking Blu-ray. That glossy digital image meshes nicely with the blue and green neon aesthetic for the film, and the shiny looking film just sparkles in 1080p. The daytime shots in New York City are extremely revealing, with solid detail levels and great looking colors. The underground ghost scenarios, or when Garraka makes his appearance really livens thinks up with rich blues and blacks, and some shiny neon reds and greens to round everything out. I did notice a little banding in the basement of the fire house, and some minor crush, otherwise this is a fantastic looking Blu-ray disc.








Audio: :4.5stars:
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Frozen Empire comes with a killer 5.1 DTS-HD MA track on the Blu-ray (as usual, the Atmos track is left for the 4K UHD disc) and it is near perfect. In fact, I almost gave it a perfect score until I was able to compare it against the Atmos track, which I DID give a perfect 5/5 rating as the 5.1 mix is a HAIR weaker. Honestly, Sony is known for making amazing 5.1 mixes, and this is no different. It’s a slightly toned down version of the 4K’s Atmos track, just without the rears and the overheads. The 5.1 mix brings out some amazing surround usage with all of the ghost activity around New York City, with cars whizzing by, proton beams sizzling through the air, and ghosts swirling around the listening position. Dialog is crystal clear and locked up front, while the bass is utterly devastating. There are more than a few times where the listener is just SLAMMED back into their seat with low end ghost jump scares, and the final fight with Garraka is just low end heaven.







Extras: :3stars:
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• Audio commentary with director Gil Kenan
• Deleted and extended scenes
• Easter Eggs Unleashed
• Manifesting Garraka
• New York, New Gear
• Welcome to the Paranormal Discovery Center
• Knowing the Score
• Return to the Firehouse: Making Ghostbusters Frozen Empire
• Buster: Capturing the Ghosts of Frozen Empire










Final Score: :4stars:


Does nostalgia make up for a good movie? Not in my humble opinion, as it needs to be done VERY carefully or it comes across as cloying and derivative. Afterlife handled things quite well, infusing just enough of the old into the new to bridge the gap between 80s fans and kids of today, but Frozen Empire leaned a little TOO much into it this go around. The movie is certainly fine, and I had an enjoyable watch, but it wasn’t anything special and felt like the addition of the old cast was amped up in hope of getting even MORE support from the classic fans, only for it to feel a bit cliched and cheap. The big baddy is fun enough, but too much humor from comedians who DON’T fit the motif and a a fairly bland villain buildup left me wanting a bit more by the time I was done. The Blu-ray looks and sounds incredible though, with solid extras all the way around, so fans of the film will definitely enjoy the physical disc. Fun watch is my recommendation.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard,McKenna Grace, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, William Atherton, Ernie Hudson
Directed by: Gil Kenan
Written by: Gil Kenan, Jason Reitman
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1, English DVS 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Studio: Sony Pictures
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 115 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 25th, 2024
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Recommendation: Fun Watch

 
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