Getting Cold in the Big Apple
Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire: Teaser Trailer
After the success of Ghostbusters: Afterlife (which was financially successful, to the tune of $204.4 Mil during COVID times on a budget of $75 Mil), it was assumed that a sequel would come along. Fans (not me, but other fans) really liked the movie, and brisk sales on home video and rentals on streaming illustrated the film as some kind of a hit. The only question was, with the first of these new Ghostbusters films featuring a cast of kids, with cameos from the original cast members, what shape would this new film take.
I haven't bothered with the speculation Online, in large part because fan speculation is (so very often) wrong. But there were little snippets dropped from the creators, letting us know that the second film would take place in New York City (and not out in Oklahoma (like the first). It would bring back the kids, and they would be official Ghostbusters (of a kind, anyway). We still had a lot of lingering questions, but it was that this sequel was going to be another kind of loving tribute to the original films. Different, maybe, from Afterlife, but still a tribute.
That leads us, then, to the release of the first teaser trailer for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire. Normally I don't review trailers (I have done a few reviews over the years but that's tapered off since COVID times)m but since I went out of my way to review both the first and second trailers for Afterlife, I felt it only fair to the new movie to give its trailer a fair shake as well. And, I have to say... this seems like a better way to do a Ghostbusters revival, at least so far.
Bearing in mind that this is a teaser trailer and, as such, there aren't a lot of plot details on offer, this film does already look promising in a number of ways. For starters, the action has moved back to New York City. While being set in NYC isn't necessarily a requirement for good Ghostbusters storytelling, there is an indelible connection between the city and our team of ghost hunters. The first two films were set in NYC, the cartoon kept most of its action in the city, and even the lady-powered Answer the Call (which I rather enjoyed) kept the action focused on New York City.
It was Afterlife that, via the machinations of its own plot, moved the action away to Oklahoma. it made sense the context of the story, I suppose, but the film did lose a certain vibe, a feeling of Ghostbusters-ness that every previous iteration had maintained. It was less Ghostbusters, more The Goonies, and while fun there's no question that a return to the Big Apple helps to make this feel like a proper Ghostbusters film once more.
Of course, we also have to acknowledge that the whole crew of old school Ghostbusters (at least the ones still alive) are back for this film. After cameoing at the end of the previous movie, the team is here to share the spotlight with the next generation. It has a vibe not unlike Extreme Ghostbusters, a mixing of old and new teams as one generation passes their knowledge off to the next. How involved the legacy characters will be is, of course, unknown. It could just be another set of cameos as the Kiddie Ghostbusters handle most of the meat of the movie. Still, fans will be happy to see the old team in whatever capacity they provide.
While we're on the topic, how weird is it to see Bill Murray actually in yet another Ghostbusters film? He did the first two, but the second was grudgingly, and he said he wouldn't ever do another until the story was just right. Coming back for a cameo in Afterlife was one thing, since that was just a few hours on set But doing another appearance as Peter Venkman, for any length of time, is something most fans didn't expect to have happen. Now, having Murray in the production brings up its own issues (like the allegations of on-set misconduct that have come out in recent years), so seeing him here may or may not be a bright spot for most viewers. I'm sure fans won't care, though.
Yes, the Kiddie Ghostbusters are in this as well. They're all suited up and ready to roll for their second big adventure, this time as official members of the team. This is to be expected as their the next generation taking over the franchise. We can't expect the old guard -- Bill Murray's Peter Venkman, Dan Aykroyd's Ray Stantz, and Ernie Hudson's Winston Zeddemore -- to continue forever, at least not in live action. Any continuation of the films beyond these few will have to completely shift to the next generation by grace of finite mortality. That or the original characters would need to be recast, but I think, long term, a new generation of characters is the better option.
Interestingly it seems like Paul Rudd's Gary Grooberson and Carrie Coon's Callie Spengler will be here as well not just as parental figures but also part of the team. We see them both suit up, with the familiar uniforms and proton packs, ready to take on the ghostly threat coming for NYC. So we're looking at a team of nine Ghostbusters this time, among the old guard, new kids, and parents. That's... well, it's a lot. This is one point where I have to wonder how the film is going to handle all this. That many characters, with competing storylines, needs for character growth, and more could make for an overstuffed film. Or it could just be shallow, giving less time to everyone. The film will have to be done just right to balance everyone and their needs.
As far as the ghostly threat for the film, it does appear to be something new. While the previous film, Afterlife, rehashed the Gozer plot line from the very first movie, this movie seems to give us a new villainous ghost. They come through, freezing NYC, dropping it into some kind of haunted ice age (thus the name Frozen Empire for the sequel). The heroes will have to bundle up and deal with the dangers of sub-zero temperatures as well as ghostly threats to win the day. It's an intriguing premise at the very least.
The only other thing that gives me any concern from this teaser trailer its that its doesn't seem very funny. The threat is illustrated well, and its clear the team will come together to save the day, but there's barely any quipping in this teaser at all. More than a film about ghosts, the original Ghostbusters was funny. Afterlife wasn't nearly as funny by comparison and, right now, I worry whether this film is doubling down on the ghosts while still not bringing as much of the funny. We'll have to see what the legacy of Ghostbusters turns out to be going forward.
Still, this teaser seems to indicate that Frozen Empire will be a stronger return to form than Afterlife. It might just be a watchable, enjoyable Ghostbusters film after all. We'll just have to see...