movie film review | chris tookey

Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

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  Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn Review
Tookey's Rating
5 /10
Average Rating
6.55 /10
Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig
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Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, based on Herge’s The Adventures of Tintin

Released: 2011
Origin: US
Length: 107

Fun visuals, but lacks soul.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Steven Spielberg’s affection for the comic-strip universe created by Herge shines through his latest offering.

The visuals on display are often spectacular, from the cartoon opening titles through to complex action sequences that are as inventive as anything Spielberg attempted in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The film makes the most sophisticated use yet of motion capture – the same technique used in Beowulf and The Polar Express - to create a world that’s somewhere between live-action and cartoon.
There’s a breathtaking chase through a Moroccan market-place, a powerful duel between dockyard cranes, and an imaginative fantasy sequence in which a galleon seems to sail through the Sahara desert.

So why do I reckon it’s worth only five out of ten? That’s partly down to the script. Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish have done a merely workmanlike job of amalgamating three vintage Tintin stories - The Crab With The Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure. They have left out elements that are crucial to a first-rate cinematic adventure.

Tintin (Jamie Bell) is a personality-free hero, who never develops over the course of the entire picture. His only memorable characteristic is his quiff. It’s like watching an entire movie built around Jedward.

Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) comes out with his much-loved ejaculations – “Billions of blue blistering barnacles!” and all – but there’s something sad, almost ghostly about him. He never seems fully alive, or comes up with anything to make us love him. His only character traits are alcoholism and love of the sea. They’re never enough.

The bungling detectives Thompson and Thomson (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) are so tiresomely incompetent and unfunny that you wonder how on earth they are still in employment.

The silky-voiced villain Ivan Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig) is even more of a bore. He has the dead eyes of a shop-window dummy, and is about as frightening.

The whole thing is weightless, airless and pointless – except as an act of nostalgia. The Spielberg film it reminds me of is his most notorious flop, 1941, in which there was plenty of slapstick and manic action, but nothing even slightly moving.

For all its technical brilliance, Tintin is a disappointment. Spielberg has captured the look of Herge, but the zest and emotion aren’t there. The characters are voids, and the motion capture technique still hasn’t been perfected. There’s something spooky about these not-quite-humans’ blank, botoxed features, their not fully focussed gaze.

I was hoping to be thrilled, and I wasn't. All the film delivers is a somewhat inhuman pastiche.

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