More than 80 years after he first appeared in print, comic book artist Hergé’s classic creation Tintin has been brought to the big screen by none other than Steven Spielberg, directing his first animated movie. And what a movie debut it is – exciting, adventurous, funny and one of those rare movies that really is for the whole family. Boys and girls of all ages will love it, and parents will be entertained and enchanted, too.
Tintin (Bell), for those who haven’t read any of his adventures, is a young, baby-faced Belgian reporter with distinctive orange hair (complete with a bit at the front that’s permanently sticking up). With his dog Snowy, he solves crimes as well as writes about them, while bumbling detectives Thompson and Thomson (Pegg and Frost) usually turn up after all the action has happened. This time, Tintin has stumbled upon the search for hidden treasure after he finds a model of a sunken ship named the Unicorn and a clue to where its cargo may be hidden. He needs the help of the Unicorn captain’s descendant, the drunken Captain Haddock (Serkis), to solve the puzzle, while also trying to stay one step ahead of bad guy Sakharine (Craig).
There’s a nail-biting plane ride, a fantastic flashback to the Unicorn’s attack by pirates, edge-of-the-seat chases, revelations and surprises. And it all explodes onto the screen in gorgeous motion-capture animation, the technique in which actors in special bodysuits are filmed and then their performances translated by computer into lifelike animation. It’s been used before, of course, by directors such as Robert Zemeckis (who made The Polar Express and A Christmas Carol using the technique) but here Spielberg takes the process one step further, delivering characters who look both animated and real at the same time (yet not as freaky-looking as Zemeckis’s efforts), performing against a luscious animated backdrop of deserts and high seas. Spielberg has assembled a great writing team (Doctor Who’s Steven Moffat, Shaun Of The Dead’s Edgar Wright and Attack The Block’s Joe Cornish) and a terrific cast to tell his story, too. Bell, Craig, Toby Jones, Pegg and Frost are all superb, but it is Andy Serkis (best known, of course, for his role as Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings movies and the upcoming The Hobbit) who nails it as the booze-soaked, memory-impaired key to the whole adventure.
An unmissable movie for everyone, and Spielberg’s best family film since Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
Is The Adventures Of Tintin: Secret Of The Unicorn suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
A man is shot on Tintin’s doorstep at the beginning of the movie, which may scare younger viewers. Young children (under 7s) may also be scared by the pirate.