Rating: 4 stars out of 5
If there is one movie that will certainly cement 2011’s status at the year of the comic book movie, it’ll have to be The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.
Only relying on his derring-do and thirst for adventure, the globetrotting story--a conflation of three of Belgian cartoonist Hergé’s books--follows intrepid boy reporter Tintin who finds himself unwittingly holding a vital piece of a puzzle in a murderous treasure hunt after plucking a model ship out of a flea market stall.
Kidnapped and bundled onto a ship by the shadowy and devious Ivanovich Sakharine (Craig), he meets Scottish boozer Captain Archibald Haddock (Andy Serkis) and together they escape and journey across Africa in the hope of locating the treasure for themselves.
Aided by his trusty sidekick Snowy, Tintin and Haddock are propelled across land, sea and air in a breakneck tale that resembles an Indiana Jones adventure heck even the soundtrack feel like it’s been plucked out of Raiders of The Lost Ark.
This is the first time director Steven Spielberg has used the 3D motion-capture technology (courtesy of Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital) which was such a hit in 2009’s Avatar. Freed from the constraints of live action directing and editing, Spielberg lets loose in this virtual environment, delivering punchy action sequences as well as creating stunning action set pieces with brilliant transitions.
Standout scenes include an amazing downhill chase down the streets of Morroco that’s done in one amazing take, a dockyard crane joust as well as a stunning battle on the high seas that brilliantly blends the past and present.
There are a few too many of these action set pieces that by midway through, action fatigue sets in and they become a bit repetitive.
That said, the action’s balanced out by some comic relief by bumbling twin Interpol detectives Thompson and Thompson (played brilliantly by Brit comedians (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost).
Jamie Bell is the perfect Tintin capturing the ageless reporter’s earnestness faultlessly but the real stars of this film has got to be Tintin’s faithful canine pal Snowy who has a knack of bailing out his master quite a number of times from sticky situations as well as the booze guzzling Captain Haddock--played brilliantly here by mo-cap vet Andy Serkis—with his galley-full of hilarious catchphrases such the infamous "Blistering barnacles!"
You can also catch some of the comic’s familiar characters such as Nestor, Marlinspike Hall’s long-standing butler as well as the "Milanese Nightingale" Bianca Castafiore. You can be sure the proceeding films will see other characters such as Professor Calculus or even General Alcazar.
Although some hardcore Tintin fans may cringe at how the writers completely hack three of our favourite stories, the script does well to keep key elements of the books in place.
With its fast-paced action packed with swashbuckling swordfights, car chases, great cast and characters along with snappy dialogue, The Adventures of Tintin is top class entertainment and will certainly pave the way ahead for such similar brand of animation.
Yes, this movie may be far from perfect and will certainly divide the faithful but all in all, it is a solid tribute to some of the most enduring books ever published.
And we certainly can’t wait for the sequel where producer Peter Jackson will trade places with Spielberg for the director’s chair.