The Adventures of Tintin
This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 11th December 2011
After patiently waiting several years and negotiating plenty of hype, audiences might be nervous and excited in equal measure about this latest blockbuster to combine innovation in computer graphic technology with the translation to screen of childhood treasures. The good news is Messrs Spielberg and Jackson clearly care as much as we do and have worked tirelessly to produce a thrilling tribute to a well-loved cartoon strip.
What hits you from the opening scenes is the quite simply extraordinary animation. A painter’s easel, hair ruffled in the wind – it all looks so real you can’t be sure you’re not watching a normal live-action film. It is with relief and delight that Tintin looks just as you might have hoped, his boyish face mature enough to convince as the young Belgian reporter whose adventures have taken millions of young (and not so young) readers on jaunts to exotic foreign lands for the past 80 years. Immediately we are swept up in an adventure that never loses pace as it melds three of author Herge’s early stories into one cohesive plot.
Purists may baulk that the movie doesn’t take one book and depict it exactly but the creators wanted to introduce key characters such as Captain Haddock (a superbly rambunctious Andy Serkis beneath all that motion-capture technology) and the detectives Thompson and Thomson (British comedy actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) into the first movie. (Yes, there are to be more.) Thus we get a very effective mash-up as Tintin and Haddock traverse oceans and deserts in their efforts to solve a great mystery.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never read Tintin. This family-friendly rollercoaster ride suits all ages, producing a story that not only shows off awe-inspiring illustration of dust, shattered glass and light flares, but exhibits “cinematography” – the chase scene from a North African palace includes a two-minute take that could never have been possible in live-action film-making.
Much of the story is necessarily shown in flashback but the segues are handled with great wit, and if Snowy’s eyes seem ever so slightly too close together, we can let that go. Roll on Prisoners of the Sun.