The “Ghostbusters” franchise has had a tumultuous run in the 21st century. Paul Feig’s attempt to retool the series with an all-star cast of female comedians including Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones with 2016’s “Ghostbusters” was a fairly standard studio reboot, but online backlash about the gender-swapped casting launched a culture war fight that arguably exceeded the actual film in terms of influence.

The series was re-launched again when Jason Reitman directed 2019’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” but the “Up in the Air” director quickly found himself in hot water when his comments about planning to “hand the movie back to the fans” were interpreted by many as a sexist dig at the female-led reboot. (Notably, Feig himself did not share that sentiment.)

The latest entry in the franchise, this weekend’s “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” serves as a continuation of both the story Reitman launched in “Afterlife” and the original films directed by his father, Ivan Reitman. Original “Ghostbusters” stars Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson returned to the franchise in their original roles — which created new opportunities to both reminisce about the past and offer new takes about the 2016 reboot.

In an interview with The Independent, Hudson expressed his disappointment with the 2016 film, using some of the same language with which Jason Reitman accidentally sparked outrage. While he stipulated that the cast members were all “brilliantly funny on their own,” he didn’t think the finished product resonated with fans.

“Fans were really invested in the story and the characters and I think it was disappointing,” Hudson said. “I enjoyed the movie but I think it wasn’t what fans were hoping for.”

Hudson, who had a brief cameo in the film as an unrelated character, made it clear that his main issue with the film was the decision to reboot an existing franchise in the first place.

“Look, I’m a fan of Paul Feig so I have nothing negative about him to say,” he said. “Other than: I don’t quite understand why you do a reboot, you know what I mean? Just make another movie.”

While the decision to return the franchise to its roots may have appeased those dissatisfied with the reboot, the critical response to the new film has not been much better.

“It’s easy to understand the impulse to bring back all the living original Ghostbusters and squeeze as much out of them as possible (perhaps that’s why Aykroyd spends one entirely indoor scene wearing sunglasses for no discernible reason? Maybe that’s what he wanted? Let him have it!),” IndieWire’s Kate Erbland wrote in her review of the film. “It’s much less easy, however, to offer that same level of grace to many of the other options Kenan and Reitman pile on to ‘Frozen Empire.’ An entity that kills through fear? OK! Fine! But that fear is just … icicles? No! Continued concerns about the legal implications of ghost-busting by underage, genius children? Who cares! A character named Podcast? At least he gets a good joke about telling his parents he’s away at space camp! (Truly, where are the other parents in this story?)”

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