The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (Steven Spielberg, 2011)


What's it about? Based on the famous Herge's Adventures of Tintin, this combines elements of three of the stories and is brought to life in motion-capture animation. Journalist man-boy Tintin (Jamie Bell) and his faithful dog Snowy find a clue to hidden pirate treasure in a model of the good ship Unicorn and set out to find it, befriending the irascible, alcoholic Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) along the way. But others are on the trail of the treasure too.

Is it any good? Speilberg's most fun film in years is not perfect, but it is a rollicking action-adventure, barely pausing for breath as we barrel along from one set-piece to another right from the start. Although, presumably the film-makers and writers were so exhausted they forgot to include a proper ending, opting instead for a lazy cliff-hanger. Nevertheless, the animation (or whatever they're calling it these days) is superb, allowing the film to get away with some exhilarating set-pieces that would be otherwise ridiculous in live-action, not least the middle third in which the secret of the Unicorn is revealed. Here, we swish back and forth from desert to sea-battle in a whirl of creative flourishes which is the best thing Spielberg has directed in yonks.
Character-wise, Andy Serkis brings Captain Haddock to life with an entertaining Rab C Nesbitt impression and gets all the best lines. Plus, I'm sure there was a hint of grumpy old Harrison Ford in the character - Indy after he hit the bottle, perhaps? The major problem is Tintin himself, whose only function seems to be to explain the story by constantly thinking out loud. Typical! We finally get a ginger-haired leading man in a big blockbuster movie and he turns out to be an irritating, bland, know-it-all, John Arne Riise lookalike. He'd never have lasted that long in the desert, either, not with his complexion. I look forward to the next instalment The Adventures of Tintin: From Moles to Melanomas. Anyway, good fun while it lasted, pity about Tintin and the rather abrupt ending.


I don't trust you. What do others think? There was a time when a new Spielberg film was cause for wild celebration, but over a decade of underwhelming output has left both critics and moviegoers wary, particularly following the awful fall from grace that was Indy IV. So, everyone seems delighted that with this movie he has seemingly rediscovered both his mojo for film-making. Everyone that is, except Tintin fanboys, who have predictably gone apoplectic at what that nasty Mr Spielberg has done to their beloved character, claiming he has utterly misunderstood the original books and using words like 'cretinous', 'crass', 'travesty' and 'Tintin for morons' liberally. Like this article, for example, in which the author ill-advisedly claims watching the new movie made him feel like he had 'witnessed a rape'. Fanboys, eh?

Anything else I should know? Morons and Tintin fans who aren't quite so militant will enjoy watching out for the nods to his other adventures, especially in the jaunty credits sequence which pays homage to those memorable front covers from the comic books. Like this film, a couple of those stories will be incorporated into the plot of the sequel, Prisoners of the Sun, which is already greenlit and which will be directed by Peter Jackson. If he survives making the two Hobbit films, that is. Or unless From Moles to Melanomas gets the thumbs up instead.

What does the Fonz think? Ten thousand thundering typhoons! It's entertaining stuff.

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