Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tintin Review

Tintin’s latest movie outing has ditched the 2D animation and the (sometimes bizarre) live action approach and recruited some of the biggest names in film and television - but is it any good and, more importantly, is it a faithful Tintin movie?

I’ve never been an obsessive Tintin fan, but he’s always been present. I remember watching the old Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin TV series as a kid, and when I was first trying to get into comics someone printed a review of my first comic calling me a “goth Hergé”, which I took as a huge complement. My best day-job was working for a company named after a Tintin book (Ottakar’s), so I was naturally cautious going in to Spielberg’s first foray into the realms of 3D motion capture animation.

Luckily, I had nothing to worry about. From the opening title sequence done in excellent retro-style, looking just like stylised panels from the original comics - a sequence you’ll want to rewatch on DVD to spot all the references to other Tintin tales (much as you will during the rest of the film), to the brilliant Hergé cameo as the street cartoonist, you can tell that this has been carefully crafted by people with a genuine love of Tintin.

While the animation sometimes strays close to the “uncanny valley”, the design of the characters is marvelous. Tintin himself is perfect, while all of the support characters look fantastic - though Andy Serkis steals the show with his portrayal of the tormented and alcoholic Captain Haddock.

Taking elements from three of the original Hergé stories (The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure), Doctor Who’s Steven Moffat (who provided the initial script) and the genius pairing of Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, have created a superb script with witty and often hilarious dialog, blending the three stories seamlessly into a very coherent whole that manages to pack a lot in. I remember looking at my watch about 90 minutes in thinking “wow, they’ve covered loads!” but it never felt long. In fact, as the last scenes played out, I would have been happy to have had the film continue for another couple of hours to continue the adventures.

The thing that you may have to do before you go to see this is dismiss your memories of Beowulf or Polar Express - this is a film that really couldn’t have been live action, though at times it’s convincingly close. The whole motorcycle/sidecar chase sequence is dazzling and will have you whooping with every gravity defying twist and laughing at the ludicrous destruction.

This is possibly Spielberg’s finest family film since Jurassic Park, and certainly should not be missed. I honestly can’t fault it, and can’t wait to go and see it again. 9/10 (maybe even a 10...)

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