Ghostbusters Movies Ranked After Frozen Empire

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Written By Sedoso Feb

In the late 90s, if you told me I would get three more Ghostbusters films, two with the original cast members, I would have shouted your name from the mountains the way Stilgar proclaims Paul Atreides as the Lisan al Gaib in Dune.

Alas, 40 years, a handful of cartoons, and four sequels after the original Ghostbusters premiered in theaters, I think I’ll stick with the original.

Why so negative? Well, I just saw Frozen Empire and … well, as these rankings explain, I kind of wish I hadn’t. Read to find out where this latest entry lands in our list of Ghostbusters movies ranked.

5) Ghostbusters (2016)

I never cared for Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters remake, and a recent rewatch only solidified my feelings. Snippets of the picture are fun, but it also lacks purpose and fails as an out-and-out supernatural comedy. If you put this same team together in a different film without the constraints of a PG-13 rating, they could probably produce a terrific comedy (see Bridesmaids).

Unfortunately, Ghostbusters drags audiences through improvised sketches that don’t build toward anything significant; the action sucks, and the special effects are cheap and uninspired. Steer clear unless you really want to see what Ghostbusters would look like as an extended, two-hour SNL skit.

4) Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2022)

This weary, convoluted sequel, pieced together from a mishmash of corporate directives, presents such a tangled mess that I’m unsure how to attack it critically. The cast of Afterlife, namely McKenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Paul Rudd, and Carrie Coon, along with surviving members of the original (Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, and a very bored Bill Murray) returns for more ghost-busting, this time fighting a demon with the ability to freeze its victims.

Oddly, the online community says the same thing: it’s perfectly fine. Temper expectations, and you’ll enjoy it. Is this where we are now with cinema? It’s fine? This is Ghostbusters! Not some goofy Marvel TV show you digest over a weekend. Who cares if the original cast returns in all-too-brief extended cameos? Who cares if Walter Peck pops up as the mayor? Who cares if Janine gets a proton pack? Who cares about the numerous callbacks to films and cartoons of the past?

Poorly paced and bogged down by too much obvious world-building, the direct sequel to 2021’s Afterlife takes a shotgun approach to storytelling, blasting its audience with a wave of ideas (some interesting) that never coalesce. Characters are wasted, ignored, or trivialized; plot strands develop and go nowhere, and the main conflict doesn’t come into play until the last 15 minutes.

Moreover, the Gil Kenan production lacks excitement and energy. Where is the imagination, clever dialogue, and oddball mysticism of the early pictures? Why do studios insist on remaking classic films in a manner that dilutes everything that made the originals so great? What happened to Hollywood? Frozen Empire should have provided a supersonic blast of ectoplasm excitement. Instead, it resembles one of those soulless entities our heroes chase after—a cash grab devoid of spirit, reaffirming my belief that the original should have remained a standalone comedy.

3) Ghostbusters II (1989)

I recently wrote extensively about Ghostbusters II, so I won’t bog this article down with more complaints. Suffice it to say, the sequel to 1984’s wildly successful Ghostbusters doesn’t hit the same heights as its predecessor and feels more like an obligatory return than a necessary follow-up. Oh sure, Bill Murray does what he can with a tepid script, and some of the visuals and set pieces excite. Still, Ghostbusters II plays it too safe and caters to younger audiences seduced by the cartoon The Real Ghostbusters rather than the older crowd that made the original into a box office sensation.

2) Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)

A more fitting title for Afterlife could be “Nostalgia: The Movie,” as this vanilla sequel shamelessly caters to die-hard fans of the original Ghostbusters. It achieves this through a barrage of callbacks, cameos, and recycled plot points, seemingly crafted to appeal to overly sentimental YouTubers who weep at the sight of Ecto-1. Did we need more Gozer? Probably not. Hell, did we need more Ghostbusters? No, we didn’t.

Still, the plucky cast (led by a terrific McKenna Grace) keeps the Jason Reitman production afloat, while a surprising amount of emotion provides some welcome depth. A clunky third act nearly derails all the goodwill established but at least sets the franchise on a promising course toward new adventures. Unfortunately, said adventures are stuffed somewhere in Frozen Empire, leaving Afterlife stuck in limbo like Star Wars: The Force Awakens as a decent sequel with interesting ideas and characters that ultimately go nowhere.

1) Ghostbusters (1984)

Every new entry in the Ghostbusters franchise makes me appreciate the original even more. Tightly written, perfectly cast, and with the right blend of comedy and horror, Ghostbusters is one of those great films Hollywood accidentally produces every so often that achieves eternal fame and glory. The cast is on point, the visual effects pop, and director Ivan Reitman keeps the 90-minute picture moving at a crisp pace.

Like Jaws, Aliens, RoboCop, The Terminator, and other classics, Ghostbusters is a damn hard film to make—a fact proven by the endless sequels and remakes that have since inundated audiences over the years. Here’s some advice for Ghostbusters newbies: watch the original and then call it a day. After 40 years, I think it’s time we stopped waiting for the perfect follow-up because Hollywood doesn’t seem to have the creativity to pull it off.

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