Wednesday, 14 November 2012

One for the collection: The Adventure of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

B-Movies have long been a love for legendary director Steven Spielberg. You only have to watch the Indiana Jones trilogy (yes trilogy, I refuse to count that fourth one as a legitimate Indy film) to see Spielberg's love for the films of his youth. A genre of films that seems to have died out in the 21st Century but kept alive during the late 80's with the help of Spielberg and Lucas. The same vision and love that went into Indiana Jones has gone into Spielberg's 2011 hit blockbuster, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.

Straight from the off Spielberg manages to astonish you with amazingly detailed animation, that at times is deceivingly life like, this is visible in tiny details such as wind blowing Tintin's ginger quiff everywhere. The director oped to use motion capture technology, much like the same technology used by Robert Zemeckis in The Polar Express or more recently A Christmas Carol. But unlike Zemeckis' constant attempts at perfect animation, Spielberg manages to create a world and an eclectic range of characters that you can engage with and this is done through the use of the animation. Unlike The Polar Express, the characters are not two dimensional and dull, they do not suffer the same treatment as A Christmas Carol, in its dull, dark colours. Which, in my opinion, was a great downfall of Zemeckis' films, the world that he created was always dark causing the animation to loose any life like qualities it may have been aided by the computer geniuses behind the technology. But instead Spielberg' pallet of colours is extraordinarily bright, with shades and shades to amaze the eyes, which bring the screen to life with it's fast and constant action, making it a tour de force of fun.

The film starts of with Jamie Bell's journalist wonder boy, Tintin and his beloved dog companion, Snowy, at a market in his hometown in Belgium and coincidentally he stumbles across a beautifully crafted model ship, The Unicorn. Little does Tintin know that the model holds a secret riddle inside its perfectly crafted mast. Soon enough the model ship is gifting Tintin with much attention in the form of Daniel Craig's Red Rackham. Now Ive seen endless actors lend their voices to animation but known so have been as deceiving and as well hidden as Craig's voice behind Rackham, ts virtually impossible to tell its him unless you remember his name in the opening credits and make a blind stab in the dark. After witnessing a murder happen on his own front steps Tintin becomes entangled in a game of kidnap, riddles and sailors as he is whisked off to sea by the villainous Rackham. On his way Tintin runs into Andy Serkis, on amazing form, as drunkard Captain Haddock and a myriad of different and interesting characters. Serkis' Haddock is the catalyst for the humor in the film, he oozes with hilarious lines about his amnesia and drinking habits.

Yet it is not the characters that make the film but instead its the endless action that blazes the screen, bringing the film to life. Spielberg's direction creates a beautiful accuracy in every action, best exhibited in the chase seen that would rival most animated or real life action films for intensity or excitement. There are scenes with never ending action that simply spills off the screen, and that has nothing to do with the fact that it was available in 3D at the cinema. The pirate scenes are an exhibition for what the Pirate of the Caribbean films could have looked like, had they not been helmed by Gore Verbinski. The film does not rest solely on the animation, at the heart of the film is a very well written script by Steven Moffatt, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, three amazing writers in their own right but combined they manage to create a blend of humor, action and drama that leaves the audience wanting more and more till the credits roll (and even then they don't let the film loose any pace).

The film is not flawless however, the pace towards the end does have a habit of over staying its welcome, leaving to the audience to wonder how the film will conclude but it never feels too long nor does it bore it's audience, and that's good news for a Hollywood Blockbuster. It's great to see Spielberg have a break from all the serious drama and get back in the toy box and fiddle with new gadgets.

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