Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (4K UHD Review) (2024)

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: Jun 27, 2024
  • Format: 4K Ultra HD
  • Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (4K UHD Review) (1)

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (4K UHD Review) (2)


Gil Kenan


Ghost Corps/Bron Creative/Right of Way Films/Columbia Pictures (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

  • Film/Program Grade: C+
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: B-

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (4K UHD Review) (3)

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (4K UHD Review) (4)

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (4K UHD Review) (5)

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (4K UHD Review) (6)


In the aftermath of the events of Ghostbusters: Afterlife (reviewed here in 4K), the Spengler family—including Callie (Carrie Coon, The Leftovers) and young Phoebe (Mckenna Grace, The Handmaid’s Tale) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard, Stranger Things), along with former high school science teacher and seismologist Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd, Ant-Man)—have moved from Oklahoma to New York City to fully assume the Ghostbusters mantle, which was bequeathed to them by the late Egon and is supported financially by no less than Winston Zeddemore (legacy cast member Ernie Hudson), who’s now a wealthy entrepreneur and philanthropist. Living and working out of the team’s original firehouse in Hell’s Kitchen, the new Ghostbusters are giving their all to protect the people of NYC from paranormal shenanigans. Unfortunately, Mayor Walter Peck (William Atherton) still isn’t a fan of their work and vows to shut them down by any means necessary.

But when a young man named Nadeem (Kumail Nanjiani, Silicon Valley) shows up at Ray’s Occult Books—run by ex-Ghostbuster Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Phoebe’s friend from Oklahoma, Podcast (Logan Kim, Ghostbusters: Afterlife)—to sell a mysterious orb left behind by his late grandmother, the object unleashes a sudden burst of psionic energy that damages the Ghostbusters’ ecto-containment unit. Upon consulting Winston’s own paranormal researchers—including Lucky Domingo (Celeste O’Connor, also Ghostbusters: Afterlife) and Lars Pinfield (James Acaster)—as well as Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) and Ray’s friend Hubert Wartzki (Patton Oswalt), the Ghostbusters soon learn that this orb is really an ancient ghost trap designed to imprison the phantom god Garraka, who seeks to kill all life by the absolute-zero chill of fear itself. So once again, the Ghostbusters are the only thing preventing New Yorkers (and all of humanity) from having a really bad day.

Directed by Gil Kenan (Monster House, who also co-wrote Afterlife with Jason Reitman), Frozen Empire is a decent continuation of the previous film’s story and characters, that goes to great lengths to honor the spirit of the original 1984 film. The character of Phoebe continues to be the film’s emotional center and she’s mostly well-served here, though there are too many supporting characters now for everyone to really contribute meaningfully. Nevertheless, Grace, Coon, Rudd, and Wolfhard all deliver solid performances, and the legacy characters—including Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz—manage to add a bit of flavor to the proceedings. So too do Nanjiani and new cast member Emily Alyn Lind, as the ghost of a deceased young woman that Phoebe befriends. But while Garraka is appropriately menacing, and there’s plenty of charm in evidence, Frozen Empire is oddly lacking in the kind of energy the original film had in spades. The danger never quite feels real or compelling and while the humor is cute, it lacks zing and spontaneity. The pacing is off too; somehow, Frozen Empire feels longer than its 115-minute run time.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire was captured digitally by cinematographer Eric Steelberg (Juno, Dolemite Is My Name, Ghostbusters: Afterlife) in the ARRIRAW codec (at 4.5K) using Arri Alexa LF cameras and Panavision T-Series anamorphic lenses. It was finished as a native 4K Digital Intermediate in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio for theaters, and has been graded for high dynamic range for its release on Ultra HD (both HDR10 and Dolby Vision are available). Sony’s new 4K release is presented on a 100 GB disc to allow for the highest possible data rates (which average 70-80 Mbps). While not as textured and gritty, an effort was made here to replicate the look and palette of the original Ghostbusters, with slightly subdued tones and a cool overall appearance. Detail abounds, all of it clean and well refined, while shadows are deep and highlights are naturally bold, particularly apparent in proton streams, ghostly vapors, and the Ecto-1’s emergency lights. This is a very pleasing 4K image, if one that dazzles only occasionally.

Primary audio on both the 4K and Blu-ray is available in a muscular English Dolby Atmos mix that offers very robust bass and pleasing immersion, though more subtle atmospheric and environmental cues are sometimes a bit wanting. There are moments that offer greater refinement, such as the playful appearance of dozens of tiny Stay Pufts in the basem*nt of Ray’s bookstore. But this is definitely a mix that leans heavily on foundation-rumbling sturm und drang. Thankfully, the film’s dialogue is clear at all times, despite its blustery dynamics, while effects panning is smooth and directional effects are moderately lively. The height channels offer a bit of vertical extension and overhead completion, though they’re not particularly aggressive. Marianelli’s score is well-layered in the mix, with cues filters in from all around. All in all, this is a good and bombastic—if not particularly refined—Atmos mix. Additional audio options include English and French Descriptive Audio, and French, Spanish, and Thai 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles are available in English, English SDH, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, French, Korean, Spanish, and Thai.

Sony’s Ultra HD release is a 2-disc set that includes the film in 4K on UHD along with 1080p HD on Blu-ray. (A 4K UHD Steelbook option is also available.) Both offer the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary with Gil Kenan
  • Previews (HD – 10:00)

To this, the Blu-ray adds the following extras:

  • Return to the Firehouse – Making Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (HD – 21:40)
  • Busted: Capturing the Ghosts of Frozen Empire (HD – 11:28)
  • Easter Eggs Unleashed (HD – 6:34)
  • Manifesting Garraka (HD – 3:55)
  • New York, New Gear (HD – 7:05)
  • Welcome to the Paranormal Discovery Center (HD – 4:44)
  • Knowing the Score (HD – 6:33)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD – 6 scenes – 8:44 in all)
    • Headlines (HD – 1:19)
    • I Am a Doctor (HD – 1:11)
    • Ghost-chopper (HD – 2:51)
    • News Report (HD – 1:03)
    • Rooftop Consolation (HD – 1:49)
    • Slime Bath (HD – 1:00)

The commentary with Kenan is well worth your time, especially if you’re a longtime fan of the Ghostbusters franchise. Kenan understands its history deeply, and he’s got lots of interesting insights on the story and the characters (both new and legacy). He delivers a steady stream of stories and anecdotes. Particularly interesting are his thoughts on the iconic Slimer character—how they bring him to the screen and the challenges of doing so using old-school physical puppetry combined with modern techniques. The rest of the content is entertaining and covers a nice variety of production topics. You get a good behind-the-scenes featurette called Return to the Firehouse in which Kenan, Reitman, and some of the cast members talk about the development of the story, the characters, and the history of the iconic firehouse location—both the NYC exterior and the studio set. There are additional segments on the various ghosts that appear in the film, the many on-screen references to the previous films, the design of the film’s “big bad” demon, the new Ghostbusting gear (including a flying drone ghost trap), and Winston’s new paranormal research center in NYC. Each features interview clips with select members of the cast and crew. A highlight is the Knowing the Score piece with composer Dario Marianelli, which touches on the orchestra recording process at Sony Pictures Studios’ newly-christened John Williams Music Building. Finally, there’s a collection of deleted scenes and preview trailers for other Sony titles, including The Garfield Movie, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Gran Turismo, and Madame Web. The packaging also includes a Movies Anywhere Digital code on a paper insert.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is a mostly entertaining addition to this franchise. It’s very clear that Kenan and co-scribe/producer Jason Reitman are taking great pains to honor the legacy of the previous films. But ultimately, that’s both Frozen Empire’s strength and its weakness. By attempting to give the core characters, all of the legacy characters, and more new characters their due, none of them end up being particularly well utilized—the film is just too overladen. Packing it with self-indulgent Easter eggs only dilutes the story and character arcs further. Nevertheless, Frozen Empire’s look and feel is spot on. It just needed more editing at every step—writing, filming, and post-production—to really focus its emotional energy. Sony’s 4K Ultra HD release is terrific on all counts though, delivering first-rate A/V quality and a nice batch of extras. So it’s recommended for fans.

- Bill Hunt

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)


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Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (4K UHD Review) (2024)
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