Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Adventures of Tintin - Secrets of the Unicorn

Journey Into Mystery

Rated: PG Adventure action violence, some drunkenness and brief smoking
Release Date: December 21, 2011
Runtime: 1 hr 47 min

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, based on the comic book series by Herge
Cast: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Daniel Mays, Toby Jones

SYNOPSIS: Young journalist Tintin and his trusted dog Snowy stumble upon a intriguing story of lost treasure, danger, and a drunken sea captain named Haddock when he unwittingly finds a clue hidden in a model man of war ship.

REVIEW: Director Steven Spielberg returns with his second film of the season with an adaptation of the Adventures of Tintin, one of the most popular European comics of the last century. In print since 1929, the Belgian comic strip eventually was collected into dozens of graphic collections, a magazine, and previously adapted for film, radio, TV and theater. Created originally by Belgian artist HergĂ©, Spielberg's version is deftly written by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who), Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead), Joe Cornish (Attack the Block).

Young Belgian journalist Tintin (Jamie Bell, The Eagle) and his trusty terrier Snowy stumble upon adventure when he buys a model sailing ship at a outside market. Tintin finds out that there are more parties interested in the model ship than he bargained for after his apartment is ransacked and the model ship stolen. Running against the henchmen of a determined man named Sakharine (Daniel Craig, Quantum of Solace), Tintin and Snowy find themselves teaming up with a drunken sea captain Haddock (Andy Serkis, Lord of the Rings) to chase down Sakharine in a race to uncover and decipher the clues that could lead them to a sunken man of war ship and possible treasure of Haddock's ancestor Sir Francis.

The Adventures of Tintin encapsulates and touches on plot points from three of the twenty four collected works of the comic series. Using elements from "The Crab with the Golden Claws", "The Secret of the Unicorn", and "Red Rackham's Treasure", the highly detailed animated film is a swashbuckling adventure with mystery and exotic locales. Several of the original recurring characters turn up, including the aforementioned Haddock, and a pair of bumbling look-alike detectives named Thomson (Nick Frost, Attack the Block) and Thompson (Simon Pegg, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol), adding slap-stick and humor.

Spielberg borrows much of the film's settings from the experiences he cultivated from films like his Raiders of the Lost Ark. Warm in tone, each landscape is cast in high detail and laid out in epic proportions. When Haddock, in a sobering moment of clarity, regals Tintin with a remembered tale from his ancestor sea captain Sir Francis, the dunes of North Africa seamlessly turn to tidal waves carrying the original Man of War ship named The Unicorn and the pirate incursion that followed. Also like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Tintin is plunged into a grand dangerous chase through the street of a Moroccan port village 
after a hawk, followed by henchman, raging rapids, and a military tank. But neither of these seem to compare to the climatic sparking dock duel at the end of the film.

Accounting for the fact that the film is an animation, Spielberg walks a double edged cutlass with both ultra realism and comic caricatures. While the backdrops and props border on the tangible and Tintin looks like he may step out of the screen like Jeff Daniels in The Purple Rose of Cairo, secondary characters and absurd action sometimes detract from the magic of the movie's escapism. When a military tank following Tintin carries an entire building on its shell from its foundation to the sea, it cuts into the superb action that Tintin manages up to that point.

Unfamiliar with the graphic exploits of the young journalist named Tintin before this film, I can see why the comics have been so popular during the majority of the twentieth century. Filled with mystery that would shame the Hardy Boys, and period action that would impress even Dr. Jones himself, The Adventures of Tintin has appeal for both children and adults. Let's hope that Tintin's journeys can continue. 

WORTH: Matinee and DVD

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