This one’s a Must-see!

Tintin (Jamie Bell) and Snowy, read about Francis Haddock.

Thrilling; wonderfully faithful.

Before I start the review, I want to talk about an upsetting discovery I made before seeing the film. I was faced with an irritatingly difficult choice; either endure the version in 3D in order to hear the original voice actors, or endure the Swedish dub but get spared the 3D. Ultimately, I had to settle for the dub.

I’ve enjoyed the comics about young journalist Tintin and his intelligent dog Snowy since childhood. When the news reached me that a brand new Tintin-film was in the making, I could hardly believe it, especially when it turned out the great Steven Spielberg was directing it. As a tremendous fan of Hergé‘s comics, I awaited the film eagerly, and when it finally arrived I wasn’t exactly disappointed. The Adventures of Tintin is one of this year’s more well-made, enthralling and delightful films.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of The Unicorn, to cite its full title, combines elements primarly from the Tintin-stories The Secret of The Unicorn, Red Rackhams Treasure and The Crab With The Golden Claws, but also contains charming references to Tintin In America, Cigars of the Pharaoh and others. Tintin (Jamie Bell) and Snowy are at a market where they find an interesting ship model; ’tis the legendary Unicorn, and two other men fruitlessly try to buy the ship from Tintin after he purchases it. One of them, the sinister Mr. Sakharine (Daniel Craig) is actually looking for something hidden within one of the ship’s three masts.

Tintin’s model is accidentaly broken, causing a parchment scroll to fall out from the mast and behind his writing desk. Eventually, a robbery takes place and Tintin loses the ship but finds the scroll, which contains a mysterious piece of paper. He puts it in his wallet, but he loses that too, due to a local pickpocket (Toby Jones). As two bumbling detectives, Thomson and Thompson (Simon Pegg & Nick Frost) go searching for the pickpocket, Tintin suddenly gets kidnapped by an evil sailor named Allan (Daniel Mays), who brings him aboard the Karaboudjan.

Tintin and Haddock, both superbly animated, are lost at sea.

Held hostage aboard the Karaboudjan, Tintin learns that Allan works for Sakharine, who requires three cryptic pieces of papers, each hidden in a model of The Unicorn, to find the sunken treasure of Sir Francis Haddock. Sakharine is infuriated to discover that Tintin has lost the scroll. Tintin, being a clever young man, finds a way to escape his prison and encounter the ship’s captain, Archibald Haddock (Andy Serkis) who is nearly constantly drunk and held captive by Sahkarine. When Tintin learns of the captain’s last name, he realizes that he must know something about The Unicorn, but Captain Haddock’s drinking has destroyed most of his memories.

As the two venture across oceans and deserts alike, Tintin helps Haddock remember the stories of his grandfather, his epic battle with the dreaded pirate Red Rackham and the secret of his treasure. Snowy is with them the entire time.

My grandfather, holding his copy of ‘The Secret of The Unicorn’.

Had it not been for my grandfather, I probably never would’ve been a fan of Tintin. He was also a sailor once, and when I was really little he used to read to me from his collection of Tintin-books. He still has all of them. Some of the things Captain Haddock said and did in the film reminded me of him.

So, as a longtime Tintin-fan, I enjoyed the film greatly, but is it the proper introduction for non-fans? Not quite. People will wonder why Tintin often speaks to himself when pondering over a mystery and they probably wont get the clever refernces to the Hergé comic books. Well, talking to himself is just something Tintin does. ‘Tis part of his character. Parents, if you are taking your children to see this, I advice you that you give them some knowledge of who Tintin is first. They will most likely love the film more then.

Of course, the visuals is where The Adventures of Tintin truly shines. At first I thought the characters looked overly cartoony and exaggerated, but the way their faces, eyes and bodies move made me forget about it quickly. It is mind-blowingly well done. There were moments when I looked at Tintin and I could’ve sworn that I was looking at a real human being, though I knew perfectly well that he was made in a computer with the aid of motion capture. Beautifully done, indeed!

There is also a great amount of thrilling action scenes, but not really moreso than in any Tintin-comic (except the climax, maybe). What I love especially about The Adventures of Tintin is how faithful and true it is to Hergé’s comics. The tone, the humour and the characters are exactly right and director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson thankfully make no attempts to make it more hip and cool for the kids, which Hollywood sadly loves to do these days. Some changes were made, yes, but they did not hurt a bit.

Thomson and Thompson confront the pickpocket.

I loved The Adventures of Tintin, maybe more than I should have. I loved the exciting action scenes, the visuals, the characters, the story and the animation. I feel dirty for saying this, but I want to see this again in 3D, just to see how it looks, particularly the opening which is traditionally animated and probably looks cool. Something that did disappoint me was that the theme tune from the great Tintin-cartoon from the 90’s was nowhere in the movie. It’s certainly not every day John Williams makes an original score that isn’t really memorable. If the series theme had played as the end credits began, I would’ve stood up un the theater and cheered. This must be how fans of Transformers felt when the Transformers-theme wasn’t in the Michael Bay-films. Other than that, I really loved this film. Highly recommended, even if you choose the 3D, I speculate.

I was, however, bothered by the omitance of Professor Calculus, one of the funniest characters from the Tintin-universe; though they haven’t gone underwater searching for the sunken treasure yet, so I’m expecting to see him in Peter Jackson’s sequel.

5/5 whatever.