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37 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visigoths! Troglodytes! Bashi Bazouks! (UPDATED REVIEW 22/3/12), 29 Dec 2011
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This review is from: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) [2012] [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!

Six stars

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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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Jan 2012 01:06:50 GMT
Lee C says:
All those words, and none about "Tintin: Secret Of The Unicorn Blu-ray 3D (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)[Region Free]", which is what you should be reviewing. This isn't a film review site, it's a marketplace that sells things. So review what they sell, not what you watched... and if you haven't bought "Tintin: Secret Of The Unicorn Blu-ray 3D (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)[Region Free]", how can you review it?

If you want to review films, go to TotalFilm[dot]com, and let the rest of us read proper reviews where they belong.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jan 2012 07:28:50 GMT
Last edited by the author on 5 Jan 2012 07:53:43 GMT
Crookedmouth says:
Ah that old chestnut. Lee, you are very wrong. There are many shoppers here who hold the opposing view and want to know what the film is like JUST AS MUCH as the quality of the media. If you have any doubt about that, take a look at the top reviews for Inception or The King's Speech [DVD] which suggest that there are a large number of buyers who simply want to know whether the STORY is any good. Yours is just one of many viewpoints.

But thankyou nonetheless for bothering to explain your view. Most don't.

Posted on 9 Jan 2012 18:00:46 GMT
D. S. CROWE says:
Thank you for your excelent review, borne out of obvious enthusiasm. Most sane people assume that the disc quality will be superb-and so much depends on the quality of the equipment on which it is viewed.
I'm far more interested in the contents. I will now order this based on yoiur review, not the fatuous comments of Lee C. Blu-ray is only a medium for watching movies etc.-it's the film that matters, not the medium. Best Regards, Stewart Crowe (D. S. Crowe Music Lover on amazon)

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2012 19:33:46 GMT
Crookedmouth says:
Stuart - many thanks for your comments - I'm happy to accept that some customers really do want to read more about the media than the content - that's their choice. I believe that it's imporant for reviews to reflect all tastes and requirements, not just those of a few,

As for the film, if you haven't seen it, you're in for a treat, but it is a shame you couldn't see it at the cinema.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jan 2012 13:18:17 GMT
D. S. CROWE says:
Hi Crookedmouth-you are of course absolutely right. I review extensively in the classical music section, and the trend there is now for corrsepondents who disagree to be gratuitously rude, which I deplore- I notice that this trend is alive and well elsewhere. There was no need to respond to your excellent review in that tone, and it seems that some people are perpetually angry. Calm down, everyone. You are right about the cinema_BUT-I cannot stand the crunching of popcorn, the slurping of drinks, the bleeping of texts etc. Concerts are so much more civilised. I'll enjoy it-in 3D-at home I'm sure. I've pre-ordered it. Thanks again for a great review- Best Regards-STEWART-with a "EW" as in Venezuela!

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Jan 2012 16:37:20 GMT
Craig says:
You could always go to a session some weeks after the initial release. I attended the cinema today to see 3D version and there were less then 8 other people there. Like you, I hate loud eaters, slurping sounds but sometimes the movie is worth it anyway. This was certainly true of Tintin.

I see no problem with someone's opinion of the film even if the actual media is not yet released. When it is, CrookedMouth's view will be one of many, including those critiquing the actual Blu Ray release.

My nephew who is nine recently saw this movie and was enthralled by it. I bought him a Tintin omnibus and he is enjoying reading it. He never reads and would prefer Minecraft or COD Black Ops. It just shows the broad appeal of Tintin in that it can cross the generational divide and bring in a new audience.

Posted on 13 Jan 2012 17:38:40 GMT
Takucys says:
I think this problem can be easily resolved by clearly stating that the review is based on viewing the movie in theaters and not on blu-ray.

What if the conversion to Blu-Ray was crap? Or maybe it is the other way around, and poor film quality is less apparent on the small screen at home.
Are the extra's worth it? Is the 3D worthwhile on Blu-Ray 3D?

All these questions should also be taken into account when reviewing a blu-ray. Just a simple sentence on top of the review can prevent pointless reading once the Blu-Ray comes out for people who have already seen the movie but want to know what the Blu-Ray is like.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Jan 2012 17:47:00 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Jan 2012 17:49:42 GMT
Crookedmouth says:
You make a fair point Takucys, but as Craig says, there will be plenty of reviews slamming or praising the BluRay transfer, once the film becomes available in that format. I've reviewed plenty of DVDs and in all cases (but one) I felt no inclination to review that aspect and have stuck to the story, the acting and the production. Nor did I ever feel obliged to add disclaimers to that effect to the start of my reviews.

And you will find plenty of other reviewers with the same modus operandi.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jan 2012 08:45:02 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Jan 2012 10:11:44 GMT
Beanoboy says:
For what it's worth, which I admit is probably not much ! - I too tend to read reviews of blu rays to find out how good the quality is compared to dvd. HOWEVER, as Tintin is a new release it would be fair to assume that the transfer to blu ray will be top notch. This review of the movie is excellent and more important, and this coming from one of those dreaded Tintin 'die hards', it exactly describes my feelings when I watched the movie at the cinema. Thanks for a 5 star review of a 5 star film !

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jan 2012 08:57:32 GMT
Last edited by the author on 18 Jan 2012 08:57:53 GMT
Crookedmouth says:
Well thanks. It's great to know that my efforts are appreciated. People don't often take the time to add comments to reviews. When they do, positive or negative, it helps us reviewers to understand where we're going right or wrong.

I am not a Tintin diehard but I do believe that some things are sacred and I think that Jackson and Spielberg did a fine job.
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