Having had shunned movies for a while, I was waiting for a good one to break the self-imposed exile – and The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn was definitely a good choice to do that. Director Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Georges Remi a.k.a Herge’s characters – the intrepid boy reporter Tintin, his dog Snowy and the foul-mouthed but likeable Captain Haddock – comes to life in an animated rollercoaster of an adventure.
I’m not a huge fan of Tintin and his adventures (well, there was the time when I used to diligently cut out the series’ pages from The Week and staple them to make a poor-man’s version of the comic book since the original ones were priced a bit high for my pocket money) but have read most of the works and also used to see the series on TV, even though the Hindi versions didn’t do justice to the characters or their utterances! The movie instalment, however, is an immensely enjoyable spectacle which brings out the comic world onto the screen in amazing vividity and vibrancy.
The movie follows Tintin and Snowy’s adventures as a wooden model of a long lost ship – The Unicorn – and the secret that it hides leads them onto a fascinating journey across the world. They come across Captain Haddock, whose ancestor the ship once belonged to and holds the key to unlocking the mystery behind it all. There are the bumbling cops Thompson and Thomson, the villain Sakharine, the mutinous former ship-mates of Captain Haddock, the singing lady Bianca Castafiore and a whole lot of fun, frolic and edge-of-the-seat thrills and spills.
The story is engaging and fast-paced and though it combines elements from three different Tintin books, the cohesiveness is there. Having the movie animated enables several scenes to be grandiose and large-scaled, something which would probably have been difficult to shoot the normal way, even with CGI. The animation also copies the look and feel of the original comic books and makes one feel that the books itself have come to life.
Motion capture works well with Tintin and the other characters but I felt Captain Haddock in the books to be taller and thinner than the animated version. The performances are first rate, though. Jamie Bell as Tintin and Andy Serkis as Capt. Haddock are excellent and they fit into the characters well. Ditto for Simon Pegg and Nick Frost for Thompson and Thomson. I found it hard to believe it was Daniel Craig voicing the villainous Sakharine/Red Rackham, he was that good! The dialogues stay true to the story history and “Great Snakes” and “Blistering Barnacles” do make their appearance in the movie, much to the fans’ delight. “Ten Thousand Thundering Typhoons” was missing though…maybe for the next one?
Drawbacks? I would say that some of the action sequences are long-drawn and confusing. Not as annoying as the Transformers’ movie but still a tad unfathomable. Then there was the bit about a bullet-proof glass breaking by a soprano voice. But hey, if James Bond’s solex agitator can do it so can Bianca Castafiore’s voice 😉 and Sakharine’s falcon was a bit too well-trained it seemed! The climax also seemed a bit rushed to me, especially the crane-fight and the cellar bit.
I also missed the theme music that played during the credits on the TV shows as that was something I always associated with the Tintin series (same way as John Williams’ theme music was a motif of the Indiana Jones movies). Staying with the music, I hear the movie soundtrack has some great scores by John Williams…must get them and listen one of these days.
That said, the movie is definitely an enjoyable thrill-a-minute adventure caper – Tintin fan or not. The kind inside you will love the adventure, the spell-binding visuals, the action capers and the joyful ride-along. I know I did
Would have loved to see Professor Calculus on the big screen. Curious as to who would portray him…Paul Giamatti would be good, no?
Bianca Castafiore was under-utilized. Her character also reminds me of Ellie/Queen Latifah in Ice Age – the lone female character
The three-scrolls-piecing clue reminded me of an episode of White Collar where they put two wills together the same way to read the clue
The instant Red Rackham came on screen, I guessed (rightly!) that Sakharine would be his descendant – battle of the descendants!
Nestor, the butler at Marlinspike Hall also looked like the descendant of Sir Francis Haddock’s shipmate from the flashback. But since Sir Francis was the only survivor from the shipwreck, don’t see how that’s possible
The villain’s name Sakharine = Saccharine. Wondering if there’s something in that