THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: SECRET OF THE UNICORN Friday 28 October, 2011

TINTIN_WEB

You don’t need to be a fan of Tintin to enjoy this ripping yarn.

The first thing that strikes you about this film is that it is visually stunning. I have never seen animation like this before. Everything on the screen is gorgeous.  All the people, animals and objects move exactly as you would expect them to. This really is a triumph of motion capture. What’s also rather a nice touch is that all of the characters have the same features as their comic strip counterparts.  That doesn’t sound like much of an achievement but don’t underestimate how difficult it is to transpose those features and proportions to characters that are more human than cartoon without is looking awful. As it is this midway point between cartoon and human makes you look accusingly at your drink and then the people around. Is it possible that somebody has spiked you? No. This is just a leap forward in animation.  I did not see the 3D version…mainly because I hate 3D but I could see the set pieces that were framed for 3D and I would imagine that they would be wonderful if that is your bag.

Okay, so enough fawning over the technical achievements of WETA is this film any good? Is it just like the gorgeous girl/boy (delete as appropriate) at the party who doesn’t need to bother with anything but looks? The answers are yes absolutely and not at all, in that order. It’s a long time since I saw a Spielberg film that blew me away.  Let us forget that nonsense about crystal skulls.  Tintin shows us that he’s still got it though. This is thrilling, funny and interesting. There are in jokes regarding the source material and at one point Tintin dispels any possibility of him and Capt. Haddock having a homosexual relationship by assuring the captain that he’d prefer it if his trousers stayed on. There’s also a lovely Jaws reference.

This story in this film comes from a mixture of existing Tintin books (The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham’s Treasure) and is expertly crafted by writers Steven Moffat (Coupling, Sherlock, Doctor Who), Edgar Wright (Sean of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, Spaced, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World) and Joe Cornish (Adam & Joe, Attack The Block). It’s a pretty shrewd move by Spielberg and Jackson to recruit these guys to write the screenplay. It feels like they’ve handled the source material with great care.

Performances are pretty good. Andy Serkis is excellent as Capt. Haddock (even if his on screen presence does look like the bloated, present day Travolta), Jamie Bell is acceptable as Tintin (ginger Ross Kemp) and Daniel Craig is thankfully only present in voice (not a fan of Craig, Daniel Craig). It’s a shame that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost get lost a little behind The Thompson Twins through no fault of their own but by dint of the narrow range of the characters themselves. That’s not to say that they don’t do a good job though.

All in all this is a fabulous piece of escapist cinema. Perhaps Spielberg’s finest effort since he made us all temporarily incontinent by throwing dinosaurs at us. Go see it and get ready to be impressed.

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