'Ghostbusters' movies ranked, including 2024's 'Frozen Empire' – USA TODAY

Who ya gonna call to rank all the “Ghostbusters” movies? Well … us!
Ever since Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and the late, great Harold Ramis jumped in a tricked-out 1959 Cadillac and saved Manhattan from the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, the “Ghostbusters” franchise has entertained generations with paranormal adventures and comedy high jinks on the big screen. (Not to mention toys, breakfast cereals, that Ray Parker Jr. music video and the oh-so-cool “Real Ghostbusters” cartoon show.) The latest installment, “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” (in theaters now), pays homage to past and present, with the OGs teaming with teen Phoebe Spengler (Mckenna Grace) and her family to deal with an evil threat looking to ice over New York City.
From worst to best, here’s how the latest “Ghostbusters” entry compares to the other sequels, the female-centric reboot and the original 1984 classic.
New ‘Ghostbusters’ review:2024 movie doubles down on heroes and horror, but lacks magic
Murray called the sequel “unsatisfying” but that’s being generous. We’re going with abhorrent and dreadful. Five years after saving New York City, the Ghostbusters are barely hanging on financially when they’re called back into duty, thanks to the reemergence of 16th-century villain Vigo the Carpathian. He’s the pits, there’s a baby involved, a sewer full of slime is emotionally charged courtesy of angry New Yorkers, and the Ghostbusters pilot the Statue of Liberty – no, really – in the movie’s climax.
This “requel” is all about family legacy – it was even directed by Jason Reitman, son of original “Ghostbusters” director Ivan Reitman. The first half is pretty great, strapping a proton pack to quirky Phoebe as the Oklahoma-based heir apparent and adding Paul Rudd as her cool-guy teacher Gary. But then it turns into a forgettable retread, bringing back the old crew and original foe Gozer (this time played by Olivia Wilde) for a finale that at least pays a nice tribute to Ramis.
The current sequel returns to New York City with a massive cast – the “Afterlife” crew plus OG Ghostbusters – and throwbacks galore. From a nostalgic point of view, it works; in terms of a coherent narrative, not so much. But the emergence of Garraka as the newest big bad, a horned phantom who represents a chilly existential threat to all mankind, is a highlight. So are the returning Slimer, Aykroyd giving new depth to Ray Stantz, Murray being Murray, and Grace’s Phoebe befriending a troubled teen ghost (Emily Alyn Lind).
Don’t believe the online haters or toxic fandom: Director Paul Feig’s enjoyably kooky reboot is the closest any “Ghostbusters” film has come to re-creating the snappy humor and go-for-broke attitude of the original. Childhood friends and physicists Abby (Melissa McCarthy) and Erin (Kristen Wiig) team with Egon-esque engineer Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and subway worker Patty (Leslie Jones) to prevent a ghostly apocalypse in the Big Apple. Chris Hemsworth is the movie’s low-key MVP as crew’s hilariously dimwitted receptionist.
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Not just the best “Ghostbusters” movie – one of the greatest comedies of all time, period. With a mix of adult comedy and kid-friendly antics, the first movie followed four dudes, of all different archetypes, bumbling their way into an ectoplasmic mess, ticking off city officials and still figuring out a way to keep Manhattan from being toasted by an ancient demon and/or stepped on by a ginormous marshmallow guy. The acting is terrific, the visuals still pop 40 years later, but the not-so-secret sauce is really Aykroyd and Ramis’ script, one full of memorable lines that finds a brilliant balance between supernatural shenanigans and thoughtful spirituality.







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