Many questioned director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson’s decision to render Hergé’s classic comic-book adventures in performance-capture animation. But it’s hard to imagine that either live action or traditional animation would have been capable of producing the thrilling blend of high drama, physical authenticity and visual invention found here.

We first meet our ageless hero sitting for an artist’s portrait in his unspecified home town. Tintin’s eye is caught by a junk stall and a model ship on display. This is the Unicorn – a 16th-century three-masted galleon that went down with all hands and a belly full of booty. The hunt for this treasure will send Tintin, his faithful dog Snowy and a mounting cadre of supporting players on a voyage across oceans and deserts, by ship, plane, jeep, motorbike and, perhaps most memorably, haulage crane.

Spielberg and a crack team of British comedy writers – Joe Cornish, Edgar Wright, Steven Moffat – fill the screen with wonderfully bizarre and memorable characters, chiefly Captain Haddock, a floundering soak gloriously realised by Andy Serkis. And while this means a few characters get overlooked – we never get a handle on Daniel Craig’s moustache-twirlingly villainous Sakharine – it does make for a notable absence of dull moments. Visually, the film is astounding. A mid-film flashback sequence, as Haddock recounts the sinking of the Unicorn, must rank as one of the director’s finest set-pieces, a dizzying mish-mash of impossible tracking shots and some of the most inventive scene transitions ever devised. It may lack the depth and humanity of masterpieces like Jaws and ET, yet Tintin is the finest example of Spielberg’s family-friendly fun side since Jurassic Park. It’s also the most creative, enjoyable and invigorating blockbuster of the year.

The Adventures of Tintin

Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation
Duration: 107 mintues
Released: Nov 3rd
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Toby Jones, Nick Frost, Sebastian Roché
Language: English
Classification: PG13
The Adventures of Tintin
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