Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Toby Jones
Running time: 107 minutes
The first Tintin movie was always going to be a big film, it had to be. After all, it’s only backed by the two most successful producers of all time in Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy. Add in Middle Earth maestro Peter Jackson and you’ve a production team responsible for almost a quarter of the highest grossing films of all time. So yeah, big film. The good news is that The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn is certainly the sum of its parts. Shoehorned in between a bloated and bland Summer catalogue and a measly looking Christmas, our favourite, absurdly dressed Belgian reporter provides the best big budget enjoyment this side of The Rock’s muscle-flexing punchaton with Vin Diesel.
This can mostly be credited to a sharp, succinct and well-paced script from Steven Moffat, Joe Cornish and Edgar Wright. An unlikely trio to adapt Hergé’s contemporary classic, they instill the plot with outlandish adventure and best of all, humour, and lots of it with Tintin’s sidekick Captain Haddock (Serkis) getting the guts of the giggles with lines like “he lost his eyelids, aye, it was one hell of a card game”. Not surprisingly, Cornish and Wright lash on the pop culture references with Spielberg’s back catalogue getting the biggest nods through a Catch Me If You Can-style opening animation, too many Indian Jones references to count and an inspired Jaws moment.
Far be it to be outdone by his writers, Spielberg has the most fun with a movie since Jurassic Park while at the same time restoring some faith in him after the fridge nuking that was Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Visually, no movie this year will come close to the colourful and arresting scenes on show here, be they stunningly rendered action sequences on the Unicorn and Karaboudjan ships or during a breath-taking chase sequence through a Moroccan palace and streets. The utilisation of 3D too, is perfect, using it to add clarity and depth.
Strangely, the only downside of the film is Tintin himself. Bell’s performance is fine, and just that. Tintin has always been a bit of a dullard and quite annoying – “walking around narrating everything he does” annoying – and it’s really the characters around him like Haddock, Thompson & Thompson (Pegg and Frost) and even Snowy who provide all of the charm present. Tintin is envisaged, like any budding franchise these days, as a trilogy with Jackson due to take the reins on the second installment and Spielberg tag-teaming with him for the third. It may be quite some time until we see the pesky quiffed adventurer again, but his presence on the cinematic landscape is certainly a welcome one.