The adventures of Tintin: The secret of the unicorn

The key word being “adventure”.

Not “action”, adventure.

It implies mystery. Thrills. Danger. Suspense. Fun!

It is a word that makes a completly different promise than the word “action”. 

Mr Spielberg delivers on that promise like a kid in a candy store built inside a candy shopping mall at the center of Candytropolis, capital of Candyland. 

To put it bluntly, Spielberg is the best at what he does. No one does adventure better than him and, in Tintin, he has found a perfect universe in which to explore adventure in a different way than in the Indiana Jones universe (which this movie is sure to be compared to, and rightly so - more on that later). At the end of the day Tintin is a 3D animation film. It has all the technology in the world to back it, impeccable motion-capture performances and truly amazing rendering of characters and environements, but it’s still animation. That’s not important, really, a film is a film is a film, no matter what tools are used to bring it to the screen, but I bring it up because there is a whimsy to Tintin’s adventure that is very much owed to the world of cartoons and it’s inherent playfulness. Like I said, a kid in a candy store.

Tintin is not Indiana Jones. He’s a different character and, let’s just say it, he’s not as great. But hey, Indiana Jones is, in my mind, possibly the greatest fictional charactor in film history, so it’s a bit unfair to measure Tintin against him. Still, it’s a Spielberg adventure movie so it’s relevent to bring up his other baby. Tintin is very much the straight man in this movie. Young, very driven, incredibly curious and yes, with a thirst for adventure. It’s important to point out that Tintin is never ever boring as a character, he’s just not as endlessly charismatic as one Dr Jones (but, again, who the hell could be?) There is, after all, no romance in the film. There is only Tintin and Captain Haddock and the bond that slowly, against all odds, grows between them. Tintin is also not given a back story, other than a few news paper clippings that decorate the walls of his appartement, the movie wastes no time with that and instead just jumps right into the mystery that will drive the entire movie forward. 

I was speaking to a friend earlier today, before seeing the film, telling him I was wondering if Snowy (Tintin’s trusty canine sidekick) would be short-changed in the film. In the books he is very useful, full of personality and very much a part of unfolding events. Fear not, fellow Tintin aficionados, Snowy is very much a part of the action and an absolutely necessary part of the movie. He’s freakin’ awesome.

But we need to spend some words on captain Haddock. Goddamn do we ever. What a marvelous legend he is! What a great character! Andy Serkis is the actor behind the pixels for this one and again he outdoes himself, playing the captain with absolute delight and aplomb. Haddock is one of cinema’s great drunks. It’s amazing that, nevermind all the gags, all the pratfalls, all the stumblings, we always like Haddock and we never, ever, stop rooting for him. He’s a great guy and the movie really picks up once he shows up.

This film also features the return of John Williams, who has scored all of Speilberg’s movies (except maybe his early TV stuff). I’m not really qualified to write at length about the music in Tintin, but I was pleasantly surprised by it’s direction. He went mostly with an upbeat jazzy score, which services the film impeccably well and helps distance it a bit from Indiana Jones. The tone here is very playful and that compliments the universe perfectly.

I could talk about so much more, about the amazing transitions that are found throughout the film, about the delightful Thomson twins, about the beautiful opening title sequence or the perfect ways in which the script, by Steven Moffat and Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish, respects the source material infinitely all the while taking wild liberties with the stories the film is inspired by, but really all I want to do is write some more about Spielberg…

Spielberg orchestrates adventure better than anyone in the business. Seriously, he is simply unequalled. Every one of his action scenes is riddled with little gags, little character moments, all the while overflowing with thrills and fantastically kinetic adventure beats. There is a chase scene (pictured above) that puts any other chase scene put together in the last 10 years to absolute shame. This is Spielberg showing everyone that he’s still got more than just what it takes, but what his peers simply don’t have. And the chase seen is fantastic but it’s not all the movie has to offer. There is a naval battle in a (stunningly well put together) flashback sequence that downright humiliates all Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Jack Sparrow is pretty neat but he’s got nothing on Sir Francis Haddock, I’ll tell you that much.

Oh, the 3D is worth it. I’ll put that out there. I don’t know that it’s necessary (go see HUGO for that) but it’s still very well done and never disorienting or annoying. I saw the movie in IMAX 3D and I highly recommand you do too.

Look, I loved The Adventures Of Tintin. I had extremely high expectations for it and it blew them all away. It’s a fantastic, funny, whimsical adventure film for the entire familly. One that I will see again at the theater and that I will own on bluray the minute it’s out.

Later, film lovers.

One month to the day until THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN is released here in Québec! I can’t freakin’ wait!!!!


This is a quote from from Dan Whitehead’s review of The Adventures Of Tintin:

"Two parts Indiana Jones to one part Buster Keaton, it proves once and for all that you can construct a breathless all-ages rollercoaster without abandoning such quaint concepts as character, wit and clarity of purpose."

How great is that? Read the entire Badass Digest review HERE.