Monday 17 October 2011

The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn

Under normal circumstances, the thought of watching a motion-capture film makes me want to puke shit from my cock. Those creepy characters floating through space occupying a horrific netherworld between the cartoonish and the photorealistic just leave me cold and uneasy, their dead-eyed lifelessness coming across like bad taxidermy but without the LOLs.
Finally though, someone has not only found the perfect subject for mo-cap ["actually I think you'll find we call it performance capture these days in order to distance ourselves from Beowulf" - Peter Jackson], but has done it better than anyone else, and has made it serve the story and the action rather than stick it in your face and hope you don't notice the yawning lack of substance it's trying to hide.

And thank sweet zombie Jeebus that that person is Steven Spielberg, finally atoning for the heartbreaking Indiana Jones And The Crystal Skull with The Adventures Of Tintin, a film that finally sees him relaxing and having fun like we haven't seen him do since Jurassic Park.

It's no coincidence that Tintin contains several nods to Old Beardy Features' greatest hits: Jurassic Park, Jaws and - most obviously - Indy are all referenced in such a way that it's like he wants us to know that he's rediscovered his mojo, and while this film doesn't hit the heights of those masterpieces, it's still a welcome return to vintage 'bergery. A lengthy chase through the streets of a Moroccan port done in a single shot, with the camera flying through impossible spaces, is easily a contender for action set-piece of the year.
From the ingenious Catch Me If You Can-ish titles through to John Williams' cockle-warming end credits music, The Adventures Of Tintin is classic rollercoaster filmmaking. The mix of breakneck action and considered sleuthing is spot-on, and with the running time a breezy 107 minutes, Peter Jackson's sequel is a mouthwatering proposition. There's room for improvement next time, though: Tintin himself is a little bland in this film, with all the backstory and character depth going to Captain Haddock's whisky-soaked sea-dog, and bumbling fattards Thomson and Thompson feel like they've been shoehorned in to please hardcore Hergé fans rather than to add much to the story.

Still, with a pleasing amount of gunplay and a surprising amount of alcoholism, The Adventures of Tintin at least feels like it's been made for kids and adults without resorting to tiresome winks at the older audience, and there's so much detail packed into the frame that repeat viewings are destined to prove rewarding.

The cast do an excellent job too: they've been chosen for their talent rather than their recognisable voices, so The Clooney Effect is avoided and at no point does the image of Daniel Craig leaping about in an all-in-one lycra suit leap to mind. Unless of course you want it to, and so what if I do you do?
A pleasant surprise, then, for someone who a) usually can't bear mo/perf/whatever-cap, b) didn't give a parp about Tintin beforehand and c) had all but given up on Steven Spielberg. In fact The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn is almost good enough to persuade me not to mention how pointless the 3D is. Only almost, mind.


  1. Just mentioning the Clooney Effect is the very thing that will make it happen, rather like a woman saying to a man "Put last time out of your mind, I'm sure you'll get it up - no problem."

    "Don't mention the war."
    "Don't tell him your name Pike."

  2. I've now decided to watch this film, purely based on this review. That, and the constant pleading from my 6 yr old step son.

  3. Excellent. Please mention that to Mr Spielberg if you see him.

  4. As a tintin fan I feel obliged to mention that tintin has zero backstory in the comics. Kind of strange when you think of it.

  5. Best Action Sequence of all time.

  6. TenTen for Tintin. Bestbest cartoontoon I'veI've seenseen. Animationtion lookooks almostost realeal.