Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

Certificate: 12A

Starring: Paul Rudd, McKenna Grace, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray, Finn Wolfhard, Kumail Nanjiana, Emily Alyn Lynd, Carrie Coon

Release date: 2024

3 out of 5


A sequel to 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife (which itself has links to the 1984 original), this movie takes the family from that film – mum Callie (Coon), boyfriend Gary (Rudd) and Callie’s kids Phoebe (Grace) and Trevor (Wolfhard) and sensibly moves them to New York, where they are running a ghostbusting business from the original movie’s firehouse.

A prologue lets us know that a particularly bad spirit who can freeze people to death is about to be unleashed, and the family are soon joined in their quest to save the day by OG ghostbusters Ray Stantz (Aykroyd), Janine (Annie Potts), Winston Zeddemore (Hudson) and Peter Venkman (Murray).

As a science fiction adventure for the family this works pretty well – a plot strand featuring Phoebe and a teen ghost named Melody (Lynd) is clearly aimed at young teens – and there are some impressive effects (especially the icy ones), an easy to follow plot and fast pacing throughout that will appeal to younger fans of ‘scary’ movies like Goosebumps.

Where it falls down is in its appeal to grown-ups who remember – and love – the classic first film. You could say it is unfair to compare the two, but since writer/director Gil Kenan is a fan and has peppered his movie with references to 1984’s Ghostbusters (the marshmallow men and Slimer are here, plus other familiar ghostly cameos as well as the return of William Atherton as jobsworth Peck, who is now Mayor), you can’t help but rate this movie in comparison with the one that started it all.

The original movie – and the underrated 2016 reboot with Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy – both centered on ghostbusters who were played by comic actors, so the laughs came naturally and often (plus the scripts were hilarious), whereas Frozen Empire, focused as it is on a family (and played by actors, aside from Rudd, who aren’t known for their comedy) rustles up only the occasional snigger, and those come mainly when comedy veteran Murray pops up on screen, which is far too seldom.

And the other thing many people loved about the 1984 and 2016 movie (and even the lesser-loved Ghostbusters II from 1989) were those big, iconic scenes, from the Stay Puft marshmallow man stomping through Manhattan, to the rousing haunting of the Statue Of Liberty. Unfortunately, there’s nothing here on that scale (a haunted lion statue near the city library is pretty cool, though), so while there are some nice effects as New York gets all frosty, there isn’t really a memorable moment in this well-meaning but unremarkable update that will happily stay in your brain for years, or even for the length of your journey home from the cinema.


Is Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...

This movie is aimed at the over-12s and does feature ghosts, mildly scary moments and even a brief reference to a sex dungeon!

If a viewer has seen previous Ghostbusters movies, there is nothing here that is scarier than the content of those.

There are very few jump scares – the scariest moment is possibly the one at the start when a group of men are discovered frozen solid.

Younger children may jump when Slimer first reveals himself.

At the lab, there is one ghost hiding in the darkness that is quite frightening in appearance but he doesn’t do anything too scary.

The movie’s main ghost/demon appears later on in the film and is quite frightening – thin elongated face, long hands with claw-like nails, and at one point he reattaches horns to his head which makes him more frightening. His appearance is likely to be too horrific for the under-11s.

If you like this, why not try: