The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (3D) – Reviewed

Your Local Guardian: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (3D) The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (3D)

In 1981 Steven Spielberg became aware of a French comic book about the adventures of an intrepid boy reporter called Tintin. Like most Americans, Spielberg had never heard of Tintin despite the fact that the adventures first appeared as a comic strip in a Belgian Newspaper back in 1929 and to date the comic books have sold over 300 million copies.

The comic books were the creation of a French – Belgium artist and writer Georges Remi (1907-1983), better known to you and me by his pen name Hergé. Spielberg was so impressed by the stories and characterization that he spoke to Hergé about the possibilities of bringing Tintin to the big screen. Unfortunately Hergé passed away before he had the opportunity to see his young adventurer become a movie franchise.

Synopsis: After purchasing a model of a galleon in a Parisian-esque market place. Tintin is pursued by a mysterious stranger who will stop at nothing to get his hands on the vessel. This encounter propels Tintin and his faithful canine companion Snowy into a dangerous adventure in which he encounters and befriends old seadog, Captain Archibald Haddock. That’s really all you need to know.

Spielberg originally intended to make a live action film with a CGI Snowy. He asked his old friend Peter Jackson if he could put together a screen test showing an actor playing to a CGI dog and Jackson obliged by taking the part of the actor himself. Although the results were good they both realised that the characters in the Tintin Adventures had to be faithful to the original comic book drawings. So with the help of Special Effects Company WETA an all star cast had to learn the art of ‘Performance Capture’ to bring the comic books to life.

The British cast includes Jamie Bell (Tintin), the king of Performance Capture Andy Serkis (Captain Haddock), Daniel Craig’s baddie (Sakharine) and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (The Thomson Twins). There is also a great collaboration of British writers Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead), Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) and Steven Moffat (Doctor Who).

The look and feel of the movie is astonishing and there are some great set pieces involving an out of control hydro-plane, a fast paced motor bike chase in Morocco and old fashioned Galleon battle like you’ve never seen before. This film has all of the elements of a family movie with plenty of thrills balanced with light relief from Captain Haddock, Snowy and the Thomson Twins. However, I think that some parents may find a few of the action scenes quite violent.

I really enjoyed the film, although Tintin’s constant explanation of what was going on did put me in mind of one of those ‘point and click’ Nintendo DS games where you put the cursor over the old telephone on the desk and it gives you a valuable clue. This film may divide a few cinema goers but I think that this is just the first step into multiple cast ‘Performance Capture’ movies. Who knows? If Spielberg had the technology back in the day, would ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ have become a totally CGI adventure series?

Also, hats off to the creative’s who devised the fantastic opening title animated sequence, one of the highlights of the film.

Four out of five stars

In Cinemas October 26, 2011

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