Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Adventures Of Tintin Review


Before his passing in 1983, Hergé said that if any filmmaker was to adapt his collection of timeless tales following the adventures of a Belgian reporter to the big screen, Steven Spielberg was the only man for the job, and after two decades of trial and error, the cinematic version of Tintin has finally reached our screens with the desired director at its helm. Alongside Spielberg, sits Lord of the Rings maestro Peter Jackson as producer and the legendary John Williams as composer.

What do you get when you mix the aforementioned three names?

A triumvirate of geek bliss. Hollywood Nirvana, if you may.

The opening credits, in particular, are absolutely wonderful.

This 3D motion-capture (mo-cap) and CGI extravaganza combines three of Tintin's most beloved outings (The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure).

While it could seem like a lot of material for a whole movie, the choice of blending those three (two and a half) stories together turns out great giving the movie a rather perfect pacing.

The relationship between Tintin and Snowy and Tintin and Haddock work really well.

As well as its tremendous visual flair, the feature's script is a revelation: beautifully written and whimsical dialogue that is frequently hilarious and manages to merge the three classic tales so seamlessly.

Familiar faces from the comics pop up now and then, but don't overcrowd the film. The focus is still on the main characters.

The most outstanding scene is the motorcycle chase near the end.

Indeed, Hergé didn't get it wrong when he thought Spielberg capable of bringing the sleuthing boy reporter to the big screen- and with a stylish Saul Bass type animated credit sequence and a nod to the original comic strip of Tintin right at the very beginning; Spielberg undoubtedly has his heart in the right place.


We first meet our ageless hero sitting for an artist’s portrait in the market square of his unspecified home town (in the first in long series of witty, self-reflective sight gags, the caricature looks just like a Hergé drawing).

Tintin’s eye is caught by a junk stall and a model ship on display. This is the Unicron – a sixteenth-century three-masted galleon which went drown 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.

What begins as a fun, nimble little mystery in the first act soon kicks into comedy-action-adventure high gear when the junior reporter stumbles upon the boisterous and boozy and his soon to be BFF Captain Haddock (an excellent Andy Serkis), whose family legacy may prove pivotal in a race to uncover the secret of the Unicorn.


The voice casting is collectively brilliant with Bell (Tintin) and Serkis (Haddock) being the obvious standouts.

Tintin's inquisitive tone and frequent high-pitched bursts mirror the speech bubbles Tintin utters in the comic panels. When reading a Hergé story, this is exactly how the character sounds in your head.

Serkis steals the show as Captain Haddock and is given splendid dialogue to growl through bitter Scottish chords. Haddock's often stupid remarks and forgetfulness is beautifully represented through the animated character.

Daniel Craig is also fantastic as the wily Ivanovich Sakharine.


Special mention for one of the best composer alive: John Williams. With a soundtrack that that evokes both noir- mystery and a grand sense of adventure, he gives us another example of his limitless genius.


The characters are designed wonderfully, almost like they were ripped out of the series and placed into a 3-dimensional world.

Snowy, while definitely smarter than your average cute canine, is also given to chasing cats, digging up fossilized bones from the desert, and gobbling sandwiches at decidedly inopportune moments. In other words, he's an instant audience favourite.
Captain Haddock's alcoholism provides some of the film's most hilarious jokes.

There is also the comic relief of inspectors Thomson and Thompson, who are on screen just enough to make you smile at the pratfalls and their stupidness, but not too long for the jokes to wear thin so you're sick of seeing them.


The reason for choosing the mo-cap animation technique as the platform became evident. 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. Therefore the hybrid, if you will.

There is no doubt this is the best mo-cap work ever done.

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, manic action and some of the most inventive scene transitions ever devised.


The 3D, if you decide or are forced to watch it in the format, is great for the most part.

Action scenes are shot with a long single shot, where the camera goes around to wild angles. There's a strong sense of being in on the action and forgetting you even are wearing a pair of painful glasses.

I would mostly recommend watching it in 3D. It’s well worth it.


From the moment the picture opens, the film's tone and mood is set: mystery and adventure merged with fun and frolics. The classy, hand-drawn, animated titles use the signature silhouette imagery with style and sophistication, making the wit and wonder evident even before audiences have graced their eyes on the monumental motion capture work (As a matter of fact, this is Spielberg’s first animated movie and his first movie in 3D).

We see the heroes on board ships, rowing boats, fly airplanes, riding camels, having car\bike chases and crane fights. The time flew past for me and not once did i feel bored, this was probably down to the amount going with the film, the quick pace of the action and the different locations of the characters were always in. It reminded me of the Indiana Jones films a lot, where he is on the hunt for treasure, only has half of the clues, and the bad guys have the others half and both sides are trying to get the other half for the themselves. He then needs to go around the globe via different transportation to get the info he needs to find the treasure.

The spirit of Hergé's Tintin, in Spielberg's movie, remains unaltered. There are some cases, though, in which the characters are even better and more deeply characterized than in the comic strips.

The virtual camera-work throughout is stupendous.

If I had just five short seconds to say how I think this movie is I'd chose 7 words: Mesmerizing from the beginning to the end.

Trust this true childhood Tintin fan: Great Snakes, it’s good.

1 comment:

  1. One of the most fantastic reviews i've ever read. You're great at this man. Amazing attention to detailing.