The art of cinematic storytelling is not much different from food prep. Movie production is akin to a slow-cooking process, much like cooking a meal with a traditional oven or crockpot. It involves planning, preparation and collaboration among various individuals, including writers, directors, actors and crew members. Just as different ingredients are carefully selected and combined to create a harmonious dish, filmmakers meticulously craft each aspect of a movie, from the script and casting to cinematography and editing. All of these parts blend together to create something that is hopefully appetizing to consumers.

On the other hand, we live in a microwave society, where instant gratification is an expectation. With the push of a few buttons, a microwave can quickly transform raw ingredients into a hot, ready-to-eat meal in a matter of minutes. However, while microwaves offer unparalleled speed and convenience, the resulting meal may lack the depth of flavor and complexity achieved through slower cooking methods. Likewise, in filmmaking, attempts to rush the creative process can sometimes compromise the quality and depth of the final product.

So, what does this culinary explanation have to do with Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire?

In this sequel to the popular Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the Spengler family relocates from Oklahoma to the renowned New York City firehouse, embracing the Ghostbusters’ legacy. Alongside familiar faces Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) and Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), they endeavor to cleanse the Big Apple of its spectral infestations. However, their efforts take a perilous turn when Ray acquires a cryptic copper orb from Nadeem Razmaadi (Kumail Nanjiani), unleashing an ancient evil that threatens to plunge the world into a devastating Ice Age.

All the ingredients that made the preceding film starring Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard and Mckenna Grace successful are present in this sequel. Mckenna Grace takes center stage, much like in Afterlife, as Phoebe finds herself sidelined when Mayor Walter Peck (William Atherton) threatens to shut down the family business due to child labor laws. Phoebe’s aspiration to join the team and battle the supernatural is challenged when she befriends Melody (Emily Alyn Lind), a young ghost seeking passage to the other side. Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire essentially becomes a coming-of-age narrative for Phoebe, teaching her that actions carry consequences, regardless of intent.

While Phoebe’s journey forms a captivating aspect of the tale, it tends to overshadow the contributions of the rest of the ensemble. Paul Rudd brings his trademark humor to the film, while assuming a paternal role to the Spengler children. However, Carrie Coon and Finn Wolfhard’s characters, Callie and Trevor Spengler respectively, seem relegated to the sidelines. Trevor spends much of the movie attempting to capture Slimer, who resides in the firehouse attic, while Callie only shares brief moments of maternal interaction with her children and minimal screen time with Paul Rudd’s Gary Grooberson.

Even the original Ghostbusters, when they appear, serve primarily as supporting characters. While this passing of the torch is expected, the excessive focus on Mckenna Grace’s character detracts from the development of the new team, hindering the film’s overall balance.

The main issue with Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire lies in its pacing. A significant portion of the 115-minute runtime is dedicated to establishing the formidable antagonist, Garraka, portrayed as an all-powerful entity capable of wielding the Death Chill. The film meticulously builds anticipation over 90 minutes, showcasing Garraka’s lethal abilities and the Ghostbusters’ struggle to devise a strategy against it, even when confined in its copper trap.

However, as Act 3 unfolds and the evil entity is unleashed, the climax feels rushed, leaving little room for a satisfying resolution. Despite the intense buildup, the payoff is minimal, lacking the extended confrontation seen in previous Ghostbusters encounters. It’s akin to preparing a well-crafted dish with meticulous care, only to hastily microwave it at the end, resulting in a disappointingly bland conclusion that fails to satisfy the audience’s appetite for a compelling resolution.

Overall, Frozen Empire receives a meager three out of five stars. While Phoebe’s coming-of-age narrative adds heart to the film, it inadvertently diminishes the impact of the ensemble cast. However, the film’s most significant flaw lies in its uneven pacing. Despite the formidable threat posed by Garraka, the movie devotes insufficient time to its portrayal. With more balanced storytelling, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire had the potential to be a satisfying feast for eager Ghostbusters fans.

Regrettably, its rushed conclusion leaves the audience craving a more flavorful and fulfilling cinematic experience.