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Tintin | The Clapper Bored


The eagerly anticipated silver screen adaptation of Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn finally lands in cinemas Friday after much hype.  Director Steven Spielberg’s first animated feature is packed with action and is startlingly beautiful, and while it may not be a classic, it has the markings of what may prove to be an incredibly influential work and a turning point in cinema.

Tintin benefits from having some of Hollywood’s biggest players on board. Whether it be Spielberg’s direction, Peter Jackson’s production, Edgar Wright’s screenplay, Andy Serkis and Daniel Craig’s Weta motion capture performances or John Williams score,Tintin has proper pedigree.  The highlights start from the very get-go with a stylishly smart opening credits that utilises the 3D extremely well and establishes the world of Tintin for anyone who may be unfamiliar.  It doesn’t take long for the first of many homages to the comic books abundant in the film to appear, but then it’s quickly down to business as Tintin (Jamie Bell) has a wander through a street market only for a 17th century model ship to catch his eye.  The well-known reporter snags the antique and is immediately set upon by two men looking to purchase it from him.  Refusing to sell, Tintin and his faithful CGI fox terrier Snowy return home, only for the ship to be damaged in a fall. Sensing that there must be more to the ship than meets the eye, Tintin sets out to research the history of the ship, at which point his model is stolen and the real mystery begins.

The big story with Tintin is not the plot itself or the cast, though both are perfectly serviceable, if decidedly un-Belgian.  What makes the film truly noteworthy is how utterly spectacular it looks.  Dismissing the 3D, which while touted is of no great improvement on what’s been seen already, Tintinis perhaps the most spectacular animated feature to ever hit the silver screen.  Once settled in, it often becomes easy to forget that nothing on screen actually exists.  The settings are gorgeous, especially once the story moves to Morocco and the sheer technical feats seen here are simply, truly stunning.  The action sequences are breath-taking and magnificently constructed.  A battle between two ships is a magical moment that will have both children and adults alike in awe.  There is such an overload of visual stimulation, it almost feels like Spielberg and Co. are showing off.  As for the human characters, it looks like motion capture is still in need of further advancements, but it’s not far off.  Some characters, like Haddock or Craig’s Sakharine feel more life-like than Tintin, for example. Perhaps this is down to the facial hair masking the lack of depth facial expressions seem to have.  Another qualm is that the several attempts at slapstick humour don’t work in the slightest.  Seeing an animated human being conked in the head serves more to remind of the cartoon-ish nature of the film, rather than being able to provide any laughs.  The same can be said of a canary joke, that while surely great on-paper, does not translate well in this format.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn has a lot going for it and while it tells a fun story, it’s never as entertaining as it should be. However, it’s difficult to not be blown away by what Spielberg’s team has created.  Motion capture may not be all the way “there” yet, but Tintinproves that it is awfully close.  The idea that, one day, actors playing timeless versions of themselves onscreen in fully animated features may become the norm, suddenly feels like a very real possibility. Who would have guessed that a classic tale like Tintin could end up providing a vivid glimpse into the future?

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By Jeff Galasso. To read more of Jeff’s writing visit LondonFilmFanatiq.com

Title: Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg.
Certificate: PG
Running Time: 105 minutes?

One Comment

  1. I grew up with these comics and they’re dear to my heart.
    I don’t think it can live up to my expectations but that is probably my own fault.
    Good to know an objective opinion (is there such a thing? lol) abt it.