The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

26 October 2011

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DreamWorks presents this computer-animated motion-capture adaptation of Georges Remi's beloved Tintin comic strip in this first installment of a planned trilogy. Steven Spielberg handles direction duties on the initial film, which is set to be followed by a second film helmed by Peter Jackson, who shares producing duties on the films along with Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy. Jamie Bell provides the voice of Tintin, with Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Toby Jones heading up the rest of the cast. Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, and Steven Moffat provide the screenplay.

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"If you are a fan of Tintin, or even if you’ve never heard of him before I urge you to go and see the film"

Great snakes! I hate to say it but, the summer is well and truly over now, the shorts go back in the cupboard, the BBQ is once again relegated to the shed for another year as we face the onset of another gloomy winter. But if you are having trouble chasing away those winter blues, you could do a lot worse than check out The Adventures Of Tintin at the cinema.

Having eventually found two free seats amongst the packed out auditorium at the Leicester Square Odeon, the lights went down and on came the 3D glasses.  Even the 3D Paramount logo alone was enough to prompt excited whoops and cheers from the children in the audience, god knows what they would make of the next 107 minutes.

I too like the children, found myself being completely enraptured by Tintin, it truly is a remarkable piece of filmmaking from one the most remarkable filmmakers of our time. Directed by Steven Spielberg with Peter Jackson on producing duties (Jackson is said to be taking on directing duties for the second instalment in the Tintin adventure) and written by a bumper crop of British talent including Edgar Wright (Shaun Of The Dead), Joe Cornish (Attack The Block) and Dr Who scribe, Steven Moffat. Even before seeing the film, I was more aware of the sheer talent behind this project and that alone left me quite giddy. My friend was dubious about the film, partly the reason I took him but also partly he was free.

The first thing I have to talk about with this film are the visuals. It uses incredibly sophisticated motion capture technology developed by James Cameron on Avatar, and I'm sure Jackson was on hand with advice after his experiences of shooting King Kong and Lord Of The Rings. Tintin is gorgeous to look at, you can really see that Spielberg and the rest of his FX team have poured blood sweat and tears into making this film the visual spectacle that it clearly is, and if it doesn't win some kind of award for its visual FX then it will be a travesty.

From the incredibly realistic texture of the ocean to the tiniest of hairs flitting in the breeze, the whole landscape is simply eye popping. The characters have retained their Hergeian look, and so obviously look slightly cartoonish but because the world they inhabit has been lovingly rendered in every detail, save for a slightly tongue in cheek moment at the beginning when Tintin gets his caricature done,  you are fully immersed into this world and you forget you are indeed watching, essentially, an animated film.

Spielberg is not in this game for the awards and the glamour, he is a story teller and an artist and with Tintin he has really pushed the envelope in terms of the technology as well as story telling. At just over 1 hour and 47 minutes, Tintin covers all the bases, it is a well paced narrative that mixes action, drama, comedy and suspense all in equal measure. In fact the action sequences alone are quite simply breathtaking, which is one of the clear benefits of a film like Tintin because there are no constraints, no limitations when it comes to imagination and Speilberg, Jackson et al have clearly had a lot fun coming up with some of the sequences in the film, in particular an edge-of-your-seat car chase through the streets of Morocco. And thanks to the script from Wright, Cornish and Moffat it balances all this with some fantastic moments of pure comedy schtick.

Part of its success as well is the marriage of voice work with the motion capture elements, when we see Tintin on screen we are in fact seeing the movements of actor Jamie Bell, but each character has been assigned a distinctive and perfectly matched voice, be it Jackson fave, Andy Serkis providing vocals for the foul tempered, alcoholic Captain Haddock, or Simon Pegg and Nick Frost bringing a touch of humour to proceedings as the half-witted Interpol agents, Thomson and Thomson. Even Daniel Craig gets a chance to try on his posh evil voice for size and it suits him rather well.

At the core of it though, this is what cinema is all about, it's a gripping story of treasure and pirates, good versus bad and who better than Spielberg to bring a tale like this to the screen, in fact there are definitely similarities between Herge’s Tintin and Spielberg’s Indiana Jones, both intrepid explorers with a thirst for adventure. The 3D however does seem fairly redundant, there are a few scenes where it really works well with the action on screen but apart from that, its just another unnecessary addition and means you need to fork out an extra couple of quid, I would personally suggest seeing it in 2D.

If you are a fan of Tintin, or even if you’ve never heard of him before I urge you to go and see the film, it's pure escapism and from what I witnessed at the cinema, is sure to delight both adults and children alike.

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