Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Adventures of Tintin, The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

When Tintin buys a toy ship (The Unicorn) at a market, he soon discovers that he has stumbled into a mystery that traces back hundreds of years. The original Unicorn was deliberately destroyed by its captain, rather than let pirates capture the extraordinary amount of gold that he was transporting. The pirate captain was known as Red Rackham, and now his descendant, Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig), is trying to solve the riddle of the Unicorn to finally recover the lost treasure. However, Tintin (Jamie Bell), and his faithful dog Snowy, become acquainted with Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), who just happens to the last descendant Sir Francis Haddock, captain of the Unicorn, and together try to stop Sakharine from recovering the lost treasure.

I have never read any of the Tintin stories before, but that didn’t stop me absolutely loving the film. I thought that it was pure Spielberg, and put me very much in mind of Raiders. Perhaps the plot wasn’t as crazy as Indy, but some of the action sequences, particularly that involving a motorbike, a tank and a falcon were absolutely outrageous; and I just sat that with a big grin on my face, loving every minute of it!

Of course essentially being a cartoon, there were several editing devices that were possible that wouldn’t be in live action (yet - based on this I’ll be interested to see how PJ interprets The Hobbit), including several inspired transitions between scenes/flashbacks etc. Of course great animation doesn’t make a good film, but it was phenomenal; lip syncing, and details around the eyes and hands was all tremendous. What does make a good film is a plot with excitement and intrigue, but without being completely ridiculous, and great characters. Clearly we should thank HergĂ© for the great characters, and the story; but the combined efforts of Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish and Steven Moffat should not be forgotten. I had feared that too many great cooks may spoil the broth, but that fear was unfounded; the scenes progressed naturally and nothing seemed contrived; well perhaps except for the mention of the Sumatran rat (monkey), which PJ manages to shoehorn in whenever he can. The voice cast are all perfect too; Jamie Bell as Tintin works really well, Daniel Craig is spot on as the smooth Sakharine, and of course only Andy Serkis could be the inebriated and enthusiastic Captain Haddock. A supporting cast featuring Toby Jones, Mackenzie Crook, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, all add to the scope of the film. Oh, and the 3D was fine, though I’d be interested to see it in 2D to see how much it really mattered.

Great adventure, amazing graphics, interesting story, the whole thing can really be summed up in two words: pure Spielberg! Now why wouldn’t you want to see that!