Films | THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN – THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN – Movie Review

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN – THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN – Movie Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on November 10, 2011 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Peter Jackson, Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg
DIRECTOR – Steven Spielberg
WRITER – Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish (screenplay), Hergé (Comic book)
VOICE CAST – Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis and Daniel Craig
MUSIC – John Williams

It is quite a thundering typhoon this one. Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock take on a mad roller coaster ride through continents, high seas and deserts in a mix of Tintin’s ‘Secret of the Unicorn’, ‘Red Rackham’s Treasure’, ‘The Crab with the Golden Claws’ and the maker’s imagination. Before Haddock (or us) can say ‘Blistering Barnacles’, the surge of Spielberg’s blockbusting spectacle is upon us. And we know this isn’t Herge’s almost century-old well-loved adventure story we are watching but Spielberg’s fantastic imagination unfolding high drama onscreen without a pause.

‘The Adventures of Tintin’ is a comic book series created by Herge nee George Remi, a Belgian artist in 1928. Since then it has been a raving favourite of audiences of all ages across the world.

‘The Secret of the Unicorn’ has romance, suspense, high drama and a solid air of mystery. Tintin stumbles upon a ship antique piece and lands onto a centuries-old puzzle of Sir Francis Haddock’s treasure and a lot of danger. There is a scroll hidden inside which leads to the treasure. There are three such scrolls in three such ships and someone’s out to get hold of the entire set. It is Sakharine, out to take revenge. Tintin meets Captain Haddock, the descendant of the legacy, drunk, wasted and piteous, who has been held captivity by Sakharine. Together they start a race to finish not only for regaining the Haddock treasure but also his lost self-respect.

The film uses performance capture technology to animate its characters yet give a more ‘real’ texture. In doing so it loses the edginess and sharpness of the hand-drawn comic illustrations. The writing does the same, focusing on action rather than character, wit or humaneness of the original almost becoming perfunctory in front of the spectacle.

In true Spielberg style, the film is mounted huge. Visceral thrills are around every corner with the scale of reverberating action. Unfortunately, this happens at the cost of a build-up of connection for the audience. The story of mystique, adventure and love for a young investigative reporter boy and his dog takes  a back-seat. What remains is the zip-zap-zoom video-game-like violence of successive sequences.

Tintin as a character, has been represented as ‘Everyman’ by Tintintologists. Tintin’s literary analysis sees the young reporter as a regular Joe without any major characteristics to make him stand out. His universal appeal is his main attraction. However, in the film, this “Everyman’ becomes almost a cardboard cut-out, doing things to provide the famous spectacle, series of ‘aha’ moments and performing impossible stunts. Captain Haddock and Snowy seem faithful representations too but without that same warmth. This takes away the much-related to fascination with the characters. Outwardly they seem alright but somehow seem far away. Or not quite much there.

For Tintin fans and non-fans, the film works lavishly. There is imagination in the set-ups and a thundering energy in the action sequences. Attention to detail is humungous and humour keeps the film even. The scale keeps the breath-taken in inside and the pace is crazy enough for edge-of-the seat non-stop excitement. But as a massive adventure full of romance, mystery and age-old secrets, it doesn’t take lot of pains to create a world that stays with us, absorbs us and makes us dream of coming back again.

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