An evil force is unleashed following the discovery of an ancient artefact; proton pack-wielding heroes of new and old must join forces to protect their home, and save the world from a second Ice Age in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife breathed new life into the franchise. Five years on from the contentious, and unfairly maligned, 2016 reboot. It went down the Force Awakens route by introducing new characters who have a familial link to the legacy characters, all while essentially re-treading the original film’s footsteps beat-for-beat.

james acaster in ghostbusters: frozen empire
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment

Continuing on from the events of that film, the descendants of Egon Spengler and Gary Grooberson, have inherited the family business, bankrolled by Winston Zeddemore, along with their relative’s penchant for rubbing Walter Peck up the wrong way (the latter of whom has now become Mayor).

At the moment, the Ghostbusters franchise has a lot in common with the Star Wars saga: it keeps to move forward with one foot permanently stuck in the past, much like a ghost that is unable to move on from this earthly realm. This sequel however, has more in common with the risible Rise of Skywalker than The Last Jedi.

Like The Last Jedi, this film succeeds in the moments it breaks free from nostalgia and forges its own path – with a prologue set in 1904, when the Ghostbusters firehouse was an actual firehouse, for example. Or an exciting car chase with Ecto-1 attempting to trap a ghost flying through the busy streets of Manhattan.

ghostbusters frozen empire cast
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment

Unfortunately, those moments are few and far between. Instead, the film often feels as though it has been written as pure fan service, like it’s expecting audiences to react like the Leonardo DiCaprio GIF from Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: rabidly pointing at the screen every time they bring back a character or ghost from the original movie. “Look, it’s the library manager and library ghost from the first film!!!”. Whereas some might have reaction more akin to Dennis Nedry in Jurassic Park yelling “Dodgson, we’ve got Dodgson here! See, nobody cares”.

The conveyor belt of cameos comes at the inevitable expense of the franchise’s newer characters. The primary cast is so large that no one really gets much to do aside from McKenna Grace. It makes you wonder why people like Podcast and Lucky were brought back at all. A priority in the screenwriting process should have been to streamline the cast.

It feels bizarre to say that in a movie starring Paul Rudd, Bill Murray, and Kumail Nanjiani, that the one actor to make any real sort of new impression on proceedings is, *checks notes*, British comedian James Acaster.

The central villainous spirit can unleash the death chill, freezing people to death through fear. Never mind a death chill, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire feels more like the death rattle for the franchise. The sad truth is bustin’ doesn’t really make us feel that good anymore.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is in UK cinemas from March 22nd.