Suggested by some to be Germany’s answer to J K Rowling, prolific children’s author Cornelia Funke has not, to date, enjoyed her illustrious counterpart’s success with movie adaptations. 2008’s “Inkheart” was a disappointment both artistically and in box office terms and unfortunately it looks like “Ghosthunters On Icy Trails” is unlikely to do much better.
When Tom (Milo Parker) discovers a ghost in his basement, he contacts the Central Ghost-hunting Institute for help. But the reason the ghost – Hugo – has moved into Tom’s basement is because a more malevolent spirit has taken up residence in Hugo’s old haunt and it’s up to Tom, Hugo and disgraced Ghost Hunter Hetty Cuminseed (Anke Engelke) to prevent a new ice age from consuming the town.
A German/ Irish production, there’s evidence that this has been filmed in both languages although the English version suffers from some wooden ADR which comprises already poor performances, especially from Ruby O Fee as Tom’s older sister Lola. The main reason I was interested to see this was the presence of Milo Parker, who was so impressive in “Mr. Holmes”. He’s clearly head and shoulders above nearly everyone else in this production and only famous German comedienne and actress Anke Engelke manages to keep up with him.
The computer generated Hugo is a reasonably good effect but seems more snot goblin than spectre, the illegitimate offspring of Slimer and Caspar. The story itself is deeply derivative of both “Men In Black” and “Harry Potter” but cheerfully mentions Hogwarts so it’s not afraid of wearing its sources on its sleeve. There’s the possibility that much of the charm and wit of the original best-selling story has been lost in translation but the proceedings come across as juvenile and pedestrian, such as the acronyms ASG for ‘Average Spooky Ghost’ or AIG for ‘Ancient Ice Ghost’. Perhaps they were cleverer in their original German. They probably sounded scarier. Even the CGI contraction of Central Ghost-hunting Institute feels forced and silly, although it does lead to the one great joke this film has to offer.
Unoriginal, lethargic and very, very childish, this is unlikely to amuse anyone over the age of five very much and even then it’ll struggle to hold their attention (Mertmas gave up on this after about half an hour and he’s watched the entirety of “Horrid Henry: The Movie”) for the length of its 99 minute running time.