As a 10 year old at a birthday party, a carefully sculpted cowlick and trousers tucked into socks was testament to how much I liked Tintin. I regularly pored over my collection and would occasionally spend a weekend reading the entire series from beginning to end. I eventually found the perfect reading method - I needed 6 months between re-reading the same comic for me to forget enough details to really enjoy it again, so I could read about one a week without overdosing. I continued along with this mildly obsessive program well into my teens. That was until the terrible day: the day that my mother lent my entire collection to an unreliable artist friend who has them to this day.
With the amount of adaptations that are constantly hitting our screens it's easy to be blasé about yet another. For me, unlike the weeks before the first Lord of the Rings movie was released, where I sat at my desk reading the trilogy for at least the tenth time with a printout of all the actors in character on the wall next to me (geekout moment), this time my interest was only aroused enough to watch the trailer on youTube a few times. I was however, just eager enough to see it on the first day, but wary about the Spielberg connection despite the fact the movie had Peter Jackson's name attached to it.
I'd heard a few of the usual mutterings: purists unhappy, lacked the humour of the books, bad 3D, sexist, etc. I went in with very little expectation but was instantly swept into the wonderful title sequence - almost a James Bond style tribute to the comic book version of our hero in action. I had my doubts about both the quality of the animation and the characterisation but these were quickly dashed when Tintin gets his portrait drawn in a street market in the opening sequence.
The film very quickly makes you aware that this is a fast paced action flick with plenty of humour and little time for exposition as it accelerates into a pace that rarely slackens - kind of funny because it instantly reminded me of the style of the actual comic book it was based on! I found myself wondering "who were those purists?" but then I realised that they were the same purists that didn't like Lord of the Rings, and they went away pretty quickly.
The film wildly departs from the book that it's based on, but seems to stay well within the spirit of Hergé's writing, and always comes back with a familiar character or classic Tintin reference. Essentially the structure of the Secret of the Unicorn remains intact even if the story does go a lot further than the original, as well as mixing large tasty chunks of The Crab with the Golden Claws into the mix.
I couldn't fault any of the characters, though missed Snowy the dog's thought bubbles (despite that Snowy was excellent). The performance of the movie, and it's no surprise, goes to that expert in 3D animation acting Andy Serkis. As Captain Haddock, the occasional Gollumism is inescapable, but like the actual books, the film is weaker whenever Haddock is not in a scene.
I could rarely fault this blistering (yes billions of blue barnacled-like) paced film. The 3D animation rarely hides behind darkened scenes, the high-key colours of the comic books are perfectly reproduced. The only issue I had was the imminent case of sequelitis the movie attained as it approached it's denouement. You could feel it coming like a stevedore's crane on nitro - though I must say I am greatly looking forward to it. I'm also looking forward to buying the complete set of books and reading them one after the other, and then repeating, in tribute to all those lost years when that friend of my Mum's robbed me of my favourite comic book heroes - Tintin, Snowy & Captain Haddock.
Rating: This film is a must see at the movies in 3D, and see it at IMAX if possible. Try and stay away from the kid's sessions if you want a really enjoyable experience (sorry kids but seat kicking, chip crinkling, talking and slurping gets a little distracting after a while).
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