Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Movie Review: The Adventures of Tintin

The Movie: The Adventures of Tintin
The Players: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig
The Makers: Steven Spielberg (director), Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Kathleen Kennedy (producers), Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish (writers)
Run time: 107 minutes

Tintin (Jamie Bell) is a young journalist living in a European town with his dog, Snowy. While browsing in a market one day, he spots a model sailing ship, the Unicorn, and purchases it on the spot, pleased with such a great find. Before leaving the market, Tintin has offers from two other gentlemen to take the ship off his hands for a decent sum of money, which he attributes to nothing more than a strange coincidence. When Tintin refuses, one of them issues an ominous warning that he will be cursed as long as he owns the model ship.

Back home, after a scuffle with the neighbour's cat, Snowy destroys the model ship by accident, and eventually they discover that the ship holds part of a secret that leads Tintin to Marlinspike Hall, the residence of Ivan Sakharine (Daniel Craig), one of the men who offered to buy the ship from Tintin at the market. While at the mansion, Tintin notices that Sakharine is also in possession of a model of the Unicorn and his curiosity it piqued. Returning home, Tintin discovers that his model ship has been stolen, and moments later he is shot at and abducted.

Snowy manages to track Tintin down where he's being held captive aboard the SS Karaboudjan, which has been taken over by Sakharine. As Tintin and Snowy escape, they discover the ship's captain, Haddock (Andy Serkis), a bumbling drunk with a temper who is also being held captive. Haddock reveals that his ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock, was captain of the treasure-laden Unicorn when it was attacked by pirates led by Red Rackham, Sakharine's ancestor, and sunk. It is revealed that there are three model ships that each hold a piece of the puzzle that will lead them to the buried treasure, so the trio decides to find the other two pieces of the puzzles and beat Sakharine at his own game.

Based on three of Hergé's original comic books, I think The Adventures of TinTin is one of the best animated films released in years. The plot is set up nicely and without too much laborious explanation of Tintin's backstory, so the audience is able to get a grasp of adventure-loving Tintin's life and his talent for solving mysteries as the story moves forward at a cracking pace. Tintin, with his curious nature paired with Snowy, his mischeiveous dog are a delightful duo, and once they team up with the unpredictable Haddock things become action packed. 

Critics may take issue with this film for a seeming lack of humor, or sit down expecting to watch a cute, fluffy film, thus completely missing the care and attention to detail the creators have taken with this adaptation. Light-hearted and funny (particularly when the bumbling Thomson and Thompson are on screen), Tintin, Snowy and Haddock make an entertaining trio of adventurers. While the character of Tintin would have benfitted from a little more personalisation to help the audience connect with him on a deeper level, the creators can't be faulted for their faithful portrayal of such a beloved comic book character.

The animation is simply stunning - scenes in Morocco are richly layered with the most intricate details, and the characters' faces are so emotive it's hard to believe what you're watching is an animation. The film is action packed and offers viewers a rollicking good ride full of thrills, spills and a nice, old fashioned goodies versus baddies battle. It's also great to see the plot doesn't rely on a traditional male/female love interest story to hold the things together, keeping the mystery and adventure front and centre for the duration of the film. Tintin, Snowy and Haddock's journey to defeat the bad guy is all this movie needs to keep you on the edge of your seat.

While fans of the comics and cartoons from years gone by will love this spectacular update of a comic book icon, it's also a nice movie to introduce kids to as an alternative to the often formulaic Disney and Pixar films. Definitely something for the whole family to enjoy!

In a word:

Sidenote: if you're ever travelling through the Loire Valley in France and have the opportunity to visit Château de Cheverny, the mansion Marlinspike Hall was based on, I highly recommend it. It's set on beautiful grounds, has luxurious interiors and if you time your visit to coincide with the hounds' feeding time you'll be in for a real treat!
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Kelly Nissen said...

I really enjoyed this! I rate the Morocco sequence up there with something out of Indiana Jones.

Julia @ Boredom Abounds said...

Kelly, we loved that sequence! It was SO Indiana Jones, but the detail was amazing. Having been to Morocco, we thought it was really well done from a scenery/detail perspective.

Unknown said...

Good movie. The end result is something like "The Da Vinci Code" meets "Raiders of the Lost Ark" meets the Hardy Boys.