The Adventures of Tintin

Action,Adventure,Animation

Spielberg's animated movie version of comic-book classic Reviews

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.

By Tom Huddleston
Time Out Dubai,

The Adventures of Tintin

  • Duration: 107
  • Released: Thu, 03 Nov
  • Classification: PG13
  • Language: English
  • Website
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Stars: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Toby Jones, Nick Frost, Sebastian Roché

User reviews:

Posted by: Lloyd Bayer on 05 Nov ' 11 at 20:49

Back in 1988, cinema audiences were spellbound with "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", a live action film that integrates conventional animation. 21 years later, James Cameron upped the ante with Avatar, a superb universe rendered by 80% motion capture animation. Although Cameron took ten years to materialize what he often refers to as his pet project, Steven Spielberg has been an avid Tintin fan since the early 1980s. So you and I can only imagine what levels of passion and energy must have gone into the making of this film. In two words, stunning and spectacular! In terms of visual brilliance and sheer magnitude of scale, Spielberg as director and Peter Jackson as producer has outdone everyone else in the film making industry. THIS IS the new era of animation and more than just recommending this film as a must watch, I urge you to witness for yourself, what will soon be referred to as the groundbreaking turning point in the world of animated films.

Titled The Secret of the Unicorn, Tintin’s adventure here is actually combined with two other books by creator Hergé, namely, "The crab with the Golden Claws" and "Red Rackham’s Treasure". Integrating these three books into one epic screenplay is the phenomenal work of British screenwriters Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish. With this movie, Tintin embarks on a perilous adventure when he buys a three-mast model ship for a steal. He soon learns that this scaled down version of “The Unicorn” is much more valuable than it seems and it is one of three identical models. After evading a mysterious buyer called Sakharine, TinTin discovers that each model ship is made to conceal a secret message. Before he can investigate further, Tintin finds himself bound and gagged onboard a ship. With the help of his trusty fox-terrier dog Snowy, Tintin is freed but literally bumps into the ship’s skipper, captain Haddock. Consumed by years of ill-luck and dependency on the bottle, Haddock soon realizes that he is but a pawn in Sakharine’s grand scheme of things and that there is more to the latter than meets the eye. Together, Haddock and Tintin must now outwit Sakharine in finding the other two model ships, but not before coming face to face with haphazard danger and a centuries old family secret.

Early reviews of this film compared it to the likeness of "The Polar Express", a 2004 animation that was one of the first to use motion capture technology. With Motion “performance” technology, the difference is huge as there is no real comparison to any other animated film so far. Digital 3 D adds extra depth and clarity but there aren’t many moments that will have you bobbing and weaving or extending your arm to grab something splashed out of the screen. Jackson’s trump card is Academy Award winning visual effects supervisor, Joe Letteri— the man responsible for visual effects from "The Abyss" (1989) to "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (2011) and almost every big budget movie in between that required a heavy dose of CGI. Once again, Letteri delivers beyond expectations with such visual quality, you have to see it to believe it. While close-ups are gorgeously detailed, wide-angle scenes look unbelievably realistic. Some background characters look so real, you have to look again to figure out if real humans were filmed. Character’s noses are somewhat disproportionate and oddly shaped, but this is in keeping with Hergé’s original art work from the comic books. On that note, this film stays true to the comic books with various characters popping up here and there, along with keeping with the Noirish period setting of the books. Tintin fanboys will savor every moment of the film. In the packed cinema hall, I could easily differentiate sections of the audience that were Tintin fans as compared to other viewers. Most probably intended by Spielberg, there are scenes and dialogue that only a true Tintin fan would recognize and appreciate.

Most notable as one of the Bielski brothers in "Defiance", this is Jamie Bell in his first ever lead role as the titled boy-reporter. Bell is perfectly cast and vindicates Amblin Entertainment’s choice in bringing Tintin to three dimensional life. Voicing the villainous Sakharine and another character I don’t want to mention, Daniel Craig is good but somehow appears more cynical than sinister. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost voices the bumbling Thompson twins and contributes to some of the comic moments in the film. For me, the show stealer is definitely Haddock with some of the best lines, best scenes and some great moments including a spectacular flashback. Kudos to Andy Serkis again! After Caesar in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes", this is his second lovable character this year. Other nostalgic characters include Aristides Silk as the pickpocket, Allan the goon and Bianca Castafiore as the Milanese Nightingale.

On a whole, this movie is not short of action, suspense and comedy and provides great entertainment for the whole family. There are plenty of Spielberg’s hallmark swashbuckling moments as seen in his last directorial "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". As such, get set for one roller-coaster of a cloak and dagger ride with Tintin, Snowy and Haddock dodging bullets, ducking swords and chasing villains. For an animation, I did feel a void when it came to emotional characterization. Unlike "Bambi" or "The Lion King", there isn’t a single moving or heart tugging moment. Then again, I don’t think Spielberg intended for this as the books are too fast paced for any sort of emotional attachment with the reader.

On a final note, and if you think you see Spielberg’s name all over this movie, I see something more: An Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, as this may not be Spielberg’s best movie to date, but it is easily the best animated film of 2011. Step aside Puss!

****

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