I love the original “Ghostbusters,” not only because of the nostalgia I have from watching it with my family during Halloween, but because of its humor and endearing cast.  “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire,” however, proves that maybe it’s time to let the franchise rest before its spirit gets sucked.

Gil Kenan writes and directs the new “Ghostbusters” film, coming off of writing the previous installment, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.” The newest flick fails to leave audiences with some good haunts, and only has a couple of laughs, even with its cast of Ghostbusters from films new and old — minus the long-forgotten 2016 “Ghostbusters” film.

Three years after “Afterlife,” Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and the rest of Egon Spengler’s family live in the famous Ghostbusters firehouse. After a publicized and reckless incident involving a ghost, Phoebe is told she can no longer be a part of the team. Meanwhile, Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) now owns a pawn store and reflects on his years as a Ghostbuster, when a stranger brings in an ancient orb that can control other ghosts and oozes with powerful spiritual energy. Phoebe, Ray, and the other Ghostbusters must learn what ghost lurks within the sphere before they are unleashed and New York freezes. 

“Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” adds nothing new to the franchise and has a bland take compared to its predecessor. Stylistically, the tone has shifted from a darker, “Goonies”-like film to something campier and comedic, which felt jarring. This is most likely because  the director of “Afterlife,” Jason Reitman — son of the  director of the original “Ghostbusters” films, Ivan Reitman — was replaced by Kenan. 

Aside from the directing, the writing wasn’t as strong as its predecessor. It almost felt more like a stand-alone than a need-to-watch event. The film’s storylines felt like they needed more breathing room, as it tried to have the audience follow three under-written storylines packed in the film’s one hour and 56-minute runtime. 

“Frozen Empire” also had a hard time giving each character screen time. This is seen by the lackluster performances from otherwise amazing actors, like Bill Murray, Patton Oswalt, and Celeste O’Connor, who seem bored and disinterested. The film poorly balances the already-stuffed cast by handing it cringy dialogue and awkward one-liners.

Grace’s performance was exceptional in the otherwise large cast. She perfectly embodies Phoebe Spengler’s energy of being a kid who just wants to grow up and offers some needed queer representation. Her performance has a wit and humor that stood out among the cast.

This new film felt devoid of life and, as much as I love the franchise, shows that sometimes the originals are better. If you’re looking for someone to bust some ghosts, this film will not make you feel good.

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