The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn FILM REVIEW
If Indiana Jones were Belgian and ginger
Release Date: 26 October 2011
PG | 107 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg
Movies often struggle to render the plasticised reality of comics into live-action cinema, but by adapting Hergé’s comparatively realistic Tintin, director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson have achieved a flawless synthesis of comic-book artistry and authentic action. A CG-animated feature that turns live actors into living caricatures via performance capture technology, The Secret Of The Unicorn opens with a touching handover from page to screen as the late Hergé “himself” plays a street artist who paints the comic-book likeness of the movie’s CG hero (Jamie Bell).
Living in a ‘40s neverland, the breathless boy reporter with the iconic quiff discovers part of a treasure map hidden inside a model galleon, which is sought after by a villainous collector (Daniel Craig). Tintin’s insatiable curiosity leads him and his dog Snowy from the cobbled streets of Belgium to high adventure in foreign lands. Enter Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), an irascible old soak who dominates the second half of the movie as the plot scurries from setpiece to setpiece like a sizzling fuse.
Comparisons will inevitably be made to the relentless rollercoasting of Raiders Of The Lost Ark. But the virtual world of Tintin seems to liberate Spielberg’s imagination, allowing his Tintin movie to perform the sort of narrative acrobatics his Indie movies could only dream of. The action scenes are beautifully timed and very funny indeed, notably when Captain Haddock comes up with a novel way of keeping aloft a floundering plane caught in a thunderstorm. But the showstopper has to be the chase through a Moroccan city, a breathtaking sequence that involves a gushing dam, a runaway tank and a disintegrating motorcycle!
Spielberg’s swashbuckling direction exhilarates, but Tintin never registers on an emotional level. This perhaps brings the film closer to the lightness of its source material, but may disappoint those who savour the sort of animated poignancy regularly accomplished by Pixar. This doesn’t make Tintin any less of a cinematic marvel, however. Indeed, it will leave comic fans wondering what such treatment could do for Asterix, Dan Dare or any number of hitherto unadapted comics characters. Fittingly for a film about the thrill of exploration, The Adventures Of Tintin could well be the first step into a new world of comic book movies.
Get a flavour of the film by watching these clips of The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn.