Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

If Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as a frail and uninspiring revival of a series that lead many to question the need for throwbacks to its origin, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is an equally worded title that hits back with a whopping "Indiana Jones style adventures will never die." And with the ever increasing quality of motion capture cinema, this style of film may just be here to stay.

Having not grown up with the Tintin stories, I went in to Spielberg's latest family-ready adventure a bit skeptical of my ability to latch on to the story. Sure, I had more than my fair share of blogging buddies ready at the shot of the pistol to sound off with any number of Tintin related facts or stories that I worried I may be overwhelmed. But Spielberg handles the transition for long time fans and newcomers with great precision. For those new on the scene, the core cast of characters are introduced. These introductions are swift, to the point, and lack an obtrusive nature films of its like often fall into.

Of course that's partially because none of these characters are particularly dynamic. Sure, they're a little rough around the edges - which goes a long way in making them believable and enjoyable - but by and large they each fall on one side or the other of a particular goal and its easy to determine which side of the fence they fall on. For a family film with great ambition this is understandable, and vintage Spielberg. After all it gives Spielberg the opportunity to explore this animated world in which he and his crew brought to life. And explore they do.

With some stunningly choreographed visual spectacles and action scenes that'll have you working a death grip on your arm rests, Tintin uses the three-dimensional world in which it operates to masterful success. In fact, I must say that remains my favorite component of the entire film. Granted that may be telling of the film's lacking in other areas, but by and large the action sequences more than make up for the other misgivings. I honestly felt like I was a kid, back at disneyworld, experiencing one of those simulation rides (e.g. the Star Wars Tours ride) all over again. They were eventful, constantly moving in a variety of directions, and full of sequences that made you want to jump up and yell "yes!" Of course you shouldn't, but that's because you're in a room filled with other people and that would be awkward.

But speaking of jumping up and yelling yes, how's about a big round of applause for the year of Andy Serkis. If they awarded a Most Valuable Actor (MVA) award at the Oscars each year, I believe you'd be hard pressed to find another candidate. Between this and Rise of the Planet of the Apes he has become living proof that even with just motion capture at your disposal, you can still act the hell out of a film.

Overall Score: 8.00/10

Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish
Comic Book Series By: Hergé

6 better thoughts:

Ruth said...

Such a fun film! I went in not even knowing which character Andy Serkis was playing (did I think to check the cast listing? No :S), and couldn't pick him at all until the credits. So brilliant, and the animation was rendered beautifully.
My only memories of Tintin are some vague recollections of the TV series...very vague. So I went into this pretty new as well. Great review :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I didn't grow up with it either and haven't had a burn to see it. Plus there were so many other films out over the holidays. Nothing worth noting coming out this weekend, so maybe I'll finally catch it.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Agree with you, great fun, I placed this one on my "Top Films of 2011" list. Loved the sense of adventure and wonder the film displayed! I didnt know who Tin Tin was until this movie came up, so I went in not knowing anything about the characters either, but I enjoyed the film anyways.

Alex said...

Great review! I agree that the action sequences are the standout since the script/story wasn't the best, but considering most of the film involves action sequences I think it works for the most part!

I didn't know much about Tintin as a character either, and spent most of the film trying to figure out how old he is. "Boy" reporter who rents an apartment and OWNS A GUN?

Castor said...

Entertaining movie but I can't help but think the limitations of the comic books (mainly that the characters are anything but "dynamic" as you put it) is keeping this movie from being great. While it was loads of fun, the movie still felt much longer than its run time would suggest. That's an odd feeling.

John said...

I went in knowing that something called Tintin existed, knew that it was French, and... well, that's all I knew. And I also knew that the screenplay had been written by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, produced by Peter Jackson, and directed by Spielberg. That's like the Dream Team of movie-making. So there was no way in hell I would miss it.

I can't say that I was blown away, but I did find it thoroughly enjoyable and a good time, well worth the price of admission. And yes- very Spielbergy, with the lens flares and the faces and whatnot.

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