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 Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

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Donald McKinney
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PostSubject: Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn   Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:44 pm

When Steven Spielberg did Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) he saw one French review that compared the adventures of Indiana Jones to that of Hergé's comic strip of Tintin. Spielberg was intrigued, and after reading some of the books, optioned them. The option remained for years, before Spielberg's hold on it expired and it came and went in many guises and versions. From one version to be directed by Roman Polanski with Jack Nicholson as Captain Haddock, to Robert Zemeckis planning to do it sometime in the 1990's with Macaulay Culkin as Tintin(!!) All of those ideas where shot down by Hergé's family. When Spielberg came back to Tintin, he was convinced the only way to do Tintin would be with computer animation. Having made friends with Peter Jackson, then hot off Lord of the Rings, Spielberg wanted to see if Jackson's WETA Digital could create a CGI Snowy. But, Jackson was a HUGE fan of Hergé's Tintin books, and had been since he was a boy. He suggested doing it motion capture style, like he'd done to create Gollum in LOTR. Spielberg agreed, believing it would be a good mix of the two, giving it a human quality, but still keeping it rooted in Hergé's world. And so, after years in development, and 2 and a bit years after the main performances were filmed, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is finally here. It's a fast, furious, rollicking adventure that manages to be a fun, exciting, intriguing tale, and it has some truly amazing moments in it. Motion Capture was the best way to bring Tintin to life.

Set sometime in the 1930's in Brussels, it has the boy reporter Tintin (Jamie Bell) buying an old model ship known as the Unicorn, but as soon as he buys it, it gathers alot of attention, the mysterious Ivanovitch Sakharine (Daniel Craig) wants the ship, but Tintin makes it clear it's not for sale. However, it turns out there's a clue in the model ship's mast, a riddle that points to the location of a long lost treasure. But he is soon knocked out and put on board the Karaboudjan, a cargo ship heading for Morocco, the ship is being controlled by Sakharine, yet Tintin escapes and meets Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis). They manage to escape and head across sea and desert to where Sakharine is planning on stealing another identical copy of the Unicorn, owned by Omar Ben Salaad (Gad Elmaleh). On the way, verging between soberness and drunkeness, Haddock recalls a tale his Grandfather told him about his ancestor Sir Francis Haddock, who in the 17th Century was Captain of the Unicorn, and whose ship was destroyed by the evil pirate Red Rackham (Daniel Craig again) whose decendant is Sakharine, and he has unfinished business in regard to the whereabouts of a long lost treasure.

This is an adaptation of 3 Tintin books, The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941), The Secret of the Unicorn (1943) and Red Rackham's Treasure (1944). It uses the meeting between Tintin and Haddock from The Crab with the Golden Claws, as well as the desert settings. All of Secret of the Unicorn and segments from Red Rackham's Treasure, (leaving out Professor Cuthbert Calculus, who is being saved for the sequel). While it might be a mix and match of Hergé's work, it's still a very faithful interpretation of his work, and he would have been very proud of what Spielberg has made of this. It's a bright, vivid world created, and it makes for great viewing. Even though it's motion capture, it's fair to say this is Spielberg doing an animated film, even though it brings Hergé's world to life, it never forgets it's cartoon roots, with it even managing to get away with far-fetched comedy moments, such as Haddock managing to kick start a planes engine by burping into the fuel tank after drinking surgical alcohol, or the gravity defying chase finale in the Moroccan port town. It's fun, manic moments like this that make up for Spielberg "nuking the fridge" with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).

But, the animation is well done, and even the notorious dead-eye syndrome that plagued the mo-cap films of Robert Zemeckis have been fixed here. It manages to look brilliant and colourful, with a clever, witty script started by Steven Moffat and completed by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, after Moffat went to do Doctor Who. They know their stuff about Tintin, and don't make any big departures, it's a brilliant introduction to the character, and it's a good film to start anyone on Tintin, let's hope it works in America. It mixes action, a good mystery and slapstick you'd normally see in a Blake Edwards film all together. It has a good score by John Williams, and a wonderful little title sequence that harks back to what Spielberg did with Catch Me If You Can (2002). Indeed, there's alot of references to Spielberg's past work in this film, from a cheeky Jaws reference, while the upside down a plane action was done by him in 1941 (1979). This is the kind of fun we've missed from Spielberg films for years, the sort he'd have in the Indiana Jones films of the 1980's, and even in the ones he produced like The Goonies (1985). This film proves he still has it to create great movie entertainment, and lets hope he's started a great franchise with Tintin.

The cast are all on good form too, Jamie Bell makes a good Tintin, an inspired choice, and he manages to add intelligence with tenacity, but the show is stolen by his CGI dog Snowy, who comes to his masters aid more than once, with some amusing results. Then there's Captain Haddock, who Andy Serkis brings vividly to life with a slobberish, Scottish accent. He's a gruff old rogue, but he's a good man, and a good ally for Tintin. Serkis is a natural by now as we all know, and is the perfect man to bring Haddock to life, almost an incomparable force of nature, you can even spot the odd shade of what Serkis did as Ian Dury in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2009) in Haddock. Daniel Craig makes a nasty, foppish baddie as Sakharine, complete with cane and pointy beard, but he's a true match for Tintin and Haddock, who try to stop his evil plan from unveiling the riddles that each of the model ships of the Unicorn have, but you can tell Craig is having the time of his life as the baddie and Red Rackham. Rounding out the cast are Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as Thompson and Thomson, the bumbling (twin) detectives from Scotland Yard, who have a good amount of buffoonery between them and funny wordplay, it's not the first time Pegg and Frost have worked for the police. Wink Oh, and there's Toby Jones as pickpocket Aristides Silk, and Mackenzie Crook (off The Office) and Daniel Mays (off Life on Mars) as Sakharine's henchmen, Ernie and Allan.



This is a great piece of family entertainment that manages to be fun, intriguing and enjoyable. Even if you don't know Tintin's work, you'll still be able to follow the film. As stated, it's a great introduction to the character. It's action packed and it's even nostalgic in it's depiction of 1930's Europe and the desert heroics. It's great to see Spielberg having this much fun making a film, he was skeptical at first of mo-cap, but he makes brilliant use of it, and it was the best way to bring Tintin to life. It stands as the best motion capture film of all, better than Zemeckis' works and even better than the mo-cap used in Avatar (2009). Spielberg always knows best, and thanks to Peter Jackson, he's brought a brilliant world to life, with colourful characters and stunning visuals. Jackson plans to do The Seven Crystal Balls (1948) and Prisoners of the Sun (1949) next, using the title of the latter for it. If it's anything like what Spielberg has created here, then there's every reason to be very excited indeed, if only we didn't have to wait so long for it. But no matter, Spielberg is back on form, and it makes a brilliant bit of entertainment before he goes all serious with War Horse (2011) and Lincoln (2012), but hopefully Robopocaplyse (2013) will see him back to fun, popcorn entertainment again. I hope he comes back for another Tintin film.
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PostSubject: Re: Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn   Sat Nov 19, 2011 2:26 pm

I saw it again on Wednesday!! This time in 2D, and it was better.
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PostSubject: Re: Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn   Sat Nov 19, 2011 4:27 pm

I haven't even seen it once yet!

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Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn   Sun Nov 20, 2011 1:19 am

Get it done this week before it goes!! Shocked
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PostSubject: Re: Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn   Sun Nov 20, 2011 8:38 am

Tuesday. Must go on Tuesday!

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We renounce our Maker.
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Behold! We are the Nine,
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Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn   Sun Nov 20, 2011 7:26 pm

Book the ticket now so you can't miss it Razz
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PostSubject: Re: Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn   Wed Nov 23, 2011 8:28 am

I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve I've seen it steve

_________________
We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn   Wed Nov 23, 2011 2:23 pm

YAY!! Very Happy
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