Film: Review – Tintin and the Secret of the Unicorn

Adventure is an easy thing to get excited about, but it’s the characters you follow through a story which make it truly unforgettable. Of all the hand-drawn creations which have come to life in newspapers over the years, Hergé’s Tintin is one of the most iconic; sporting his signature trench coat and blue jumper, with a tuft of ginger hair, The Adventures of Tintin, and trusty Terrier side-kick, Snowy, are known around the world.

This film though, is, technologically at least, as far from Hergé’s original sketches as you can imagine, with incredibly detailed landscapes, immersive weather effects, and the most natural motion-capture committed to film since Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, and the illusion is taken a step further with 3D.

The ultimate adventure journalist, Tintin is brought to life by Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) as he and Snowy try to uncover the secrets behind the model of a ship called ‘The Unicorn’.

Along the way he meets blundering, but lovable, alcoholic Captain Haddock, played to perfection by Andy Serkis (with all his alliterative catchphrases intact), who is a descendent of the sunken Unicorn’s captain.

From the moment John William’s vibrant score introduces a sublime Hergé-styled intro sequence, you can’t help but warm immediately to the characters. Bell plays a hero which you get behind instinctively from the first sign of trouble, and Serkis’ Haddock brings a lightness to proceedings, even through the Captain’s rich Scottish accent.

The influences of director Steven Spielberg’s earlier films are clear throughout, not least globe-trotting adventurer Indiana Jones. But though the two heroes share an era of history and a taste for a mystery, Tintin has none of the recklessness of Dr. Jones, always running rather than fighting, but don’t mistake this ginger journo for a pushover, as Tintin finds himself in a fistfight on more than one occasion.

The film’s pace drives the action at an almost non-stop pace, with a recollection from Haddock in the desert providing the most visually stunning moments of the film, making daring use of animation tricks to merge the present and the past together.

No hero’s tale is complete without a villain however, and the man determined to get to the sunken Unicorn and its treasure first is grim-faced model-collector Ivanovitch Sakharine.

Ivanovitch is given his gravelly tones by Bond Daniel Craig, and cuts through every line with venom, appearing more evil the longer he appears on screen.

The story, based on a few of Herge’s original works, was brought together by a three-pronged attack from Doctor Who king Stephen Moffat, Shawn of the Dead writer/director Edgar Wright and Adam and Joe Show creator Joe Cornish. The variety of talent has come together to create a genuine, fun and family-friendly film, shying away from the current Hollywood trend of making things darker and more moody to deliver a refreshingly positive and classic cinematic experience.

The film is enjoyable whether you’ve never heard of the young Belgian journalist who never submits his copy before, or whether you spend your Sunday nights leafing through Explorers on The Moon. A blockbuster in every sense of the word, this film commands the attention of all ages and afterwards you’re guaranteed to come out filled with optimism and a thirst for adventure.

Rating: 4/5

James Michael Parry

6 thoughts on “Film: Review – Tintin and the Secret of the Unicorn”

  1. It was awful. They shouldn’t have wasted their time with animation and Pegg should’ve taken the lead role. In fact Halle Berry on Catwoman form would’ve been an improvement as Tintin. If there is to be a series they need to start by remaking this one. I was embarrassed for everyone involved in this project.

  2. I didn’t grow up in America so I have heard of Tintin before. As a child. If baffles me that other children didn’t have the privilege of knowing about the series in any of its many forms. And I love the collaboration between Spielberg and Jackson and they can do the cartoony impossible in mocap. I can’t wait for the three-quel to see what Edgar Wright can do with the action.

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