Daily archives "December 15, 2011"

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn ****

Running time: 106 mins  Certificate: PG

Synopsis: Belgian reporter Tintin (Bell) is on the trail of a lost family fortune with his new friend Captain Haddock (Serkis).


It has been a few years since Spielberg has made a movie. Some will think that he was hiding for making the atrocious fourth installment of Indiana Jones, when in fact the director has been crafting his first foray in the world of 3-D motion capture.


A young reporter, Tintin buys a model ship called the Unicorn is approached by a sinister gentleman Sakharine who also wants the ship. Tintin learns that the Unicorn was a 17th-century warship captained by Sir Francis Haddock, and that Sakharine may be trying to locate Sir Francis’s treasure. Tintin and the alcoholic Captain Haddock (a descendant of Sir Francis) along with his faithful dog, Snowy must try and solve the mystery before Sakharine can reach the treasure first.


What a vast improvement from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. This is what the last Indy film should have been, a rollicking humorous rollercoaster ride with stunning set pieces. Not only that but it also feels like an Indy movie with several references to the archaeologists previous installments.


Spielberg also appears to be giving nods to his other movies from a Jaws gag to the Catch Me If You Can style credit sequence. This is a clearly a rejuvenated director who is showing that he is still as creative as he was in the 80’s.


The plot is based on various elements from Belgian artist Herge’s famous Tintin graphic novels, The Secret of the Unicorn, The Crab With the Golden Claws and a Red Rackham’s Treasure. The screenplay by Moffat, Wright and Cornish is humorous and inventive, but some fans of the comic strip maybe upset that they have taken a few liberties with some areas. At times it can be a little confusing to follow especially during the action scenes.


Performance wise, Jamie Bell makes the usually dull central character pretty interesting. Andy Serkis yet again shows he is the king of motion capture performance art with his funny and wacky take on Captain Haddock. While Daniel Craig appears to be having lots of fun in his villainous role of Sakharine. The real star has to be said is Snowy who has the best comic and action orientated moments.


Motion capture has always been a fairly lifeless affair in the movies. Robert Zemeckis tried to breathe life into his characters, but they suffered from the infamous dead eyes look. Thankfully Spielberg and Weta have resolved this problem with characters that show more emotion than Harrison Ford and Shia LaBeouf did throughout Indy 4. There are moments that the animation is so convincing that it is easy to forget that the movie is an animated film.


Herge had always maintained that Steven Spielberg was the only director capable of making a successful adaptation of his work. It appears that he was right, as the end result is a charming, fun old-fashioned action adventure. Peter Jackson has a lot to live up to for the planned sequel.

Reviewed by Paul Logan