37 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Visigoths! Troglodytes! Bashi Bazouks! (UPDATED REVIEW 22/3/12)
, 29 Dec. 2011
This review is from: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)  [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
A film by Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg, story by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish and starring Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig and Pegg & Frost. Sounds good, doesn't it? But 'ware! The subject is one of the most cherished icons of 20th century child's story-telling, held dear by pretty much anyone of a "certain age" and transferred from a distinctive style to modern CGI animation. The potential to fail is strong in this one...
Briefly, the story is a mash-up of three well known episodes in the Tintin canon, The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham's Treasure. Tintin (Bell) meets Captain Haddock (Serkis) and embark on an action packed search for the Captain's ancestor's treasure trove. They are joined by two of the more fondly remembered of Tintin's associates, Thompson and Thomson played by Pegg and Frost, (or is it Frost and Pegg?) and stalked by arch criminal Ivan Sakharine (Craig).
The film is produced using performance capture animation and it bridges the gap between a live action film and the straight "cartoon" of the Bernasconi animated series. Obviously Tintin purists will have their objections as the film does take *some* liberties with the "look", but to the ordinary audience member, the end product is both impressive and reverential to Herge. If there are any objections to the CGI animation (and there are a few minor ones) I think it's important to remember that the art and technology of CGI is still developing and it would be churlish to criticise too strongly. One criticism I have heard is that the emotional expression of the characters suffers in the CGI process. I'll have none of that! The characters' faces are expressive and readable and it is quite easy eventually to forget that they *are* CGI and my wife came out of the cinema remarking that the make-up was very good and she didn't recognise Andy Serkis at all!
Most importantly, the animation really does keep the faith with Herge's vision (Herge even appears in a small cameo in the opening sequence) in almost every way. The characters are depicted as 3D versions of his original ligne claire artwork (without the lignes) and it's a big relief that the story is set in the 1940's Tintin universe, "somewhere in Europe", plus-fours, bowler hats, rusty tramp-steamers, schmeisser machine guns and sea-planes galore. The film really retains the film noir "feel" of the original and that will be important to Tintin's fans. The "scenery" is, like Herge's comics, sumptuously populated and I was crying out for a remote control to pause and rewind the film so that I could revisit some of the little details that I half-missed - the covers of magazines carelessly tossed onto desktops, the contents of the desk's partly opened drawers, little cameo sequences that take place at the edge of the screen while the main action is front and centre, the array of faces in The Milanese Nightingale's audience and so-on. The film has *huge* rewatch potential and I will be pre-ordering the DVD as soon as it becomes available for this reason alone!
The acting is brilliant and all the performers really bring their characters to life. Bell does a fine job and Serkis and Pegg and Frost convey their slapstick antics extremely well. It's good that the actors' performances don't overwhelm the characters' already well-developed personalities. While I've heard some criticism that Serkis overcooks his Haddock, I disagree - the Captain is a larger-than-life personality and Serkis does a fine job with this wonderful character. I am aching, however, to meet Professor Calculus in a sequel (please let it be Destination Moon)!
Ol' Steve has been around a while, now and knows a thing or too about the action/adventure genre and he really lets rip with this one. Indiana Jones for kids? I'll say. The action is breath-taking and at nearly two hours in length it's a rollercoaster ride. The motorcycle chase scene, filmed in a single continuous take is the centrepiece of the film. Spielberg bundles you into the sidecar and takes you on a break-neck race, bouncing you off the walls, leaping chasms and leaving you, several minutes later, sitting in a small cloud of dust with steam coming off the seat of your pants and little cork-screws of sweat radiating off your head. The "Long Take" scene is becoming a bit of a cliche in modern cinematography and, I think, looks a little ostentatious in live action film, but in animation it works rather well and left me exhausted and deeply satisfied. And it doesn't let up - in true Spielberg/Indy style, the film barely slows down for a minute. There's plenty of good, Herge slapstick, not too overdone and obeying the hallowed traditions of visual comedy, and genuine laugh out loud moments aplenty.
In the final analysis, The Adventures of Tintin is a top notch family film. It will, like any film of this sort, have its detractors; but what Jackson and Spielberg have achieved is a joyful, exuberant whoop of a film that will appeal to kids of all ages (i.e. anywhere between about 5 and 85) and will offend none but the hardest of Tintin die-hards.
Did we enjoy it? Ten thousand thudering typhoons! Of course we did!
Update: 22 March 2012
On the second watching the film loses absolutely none of its appeal. It remains a funny, exciting and exceptionally well accomplished experience. If anything it's even more enjoyable for noticing the sumptuous details that passed me by the first time and I am going to have to watch it several more times yet.
I did pay special attention to the characters' eyes - a detail of some note to the film's detractors - and I can't see any objections at all. They are as expressive and emotive as any you will see in an animated film (more so than some live acion films I could mention).
The quality of the BluRay recording is, as far as I can tell, absolutely fine. I'm no expert in film reproduction but, on my new 40" flatscreen, the film played beautifully, visually and audibly.
The BluRay version of the film is bundled with a lovely collection of extras - behind the scenes documentaries, a look at the motion capture animation process, the TinTin story, character bios and so-on. It's going to take me some time to watch them all and they add immensely to the value of the package.
Can I award seven stars?
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