“The Adventures of Tintin – the Secret of the Unicorn” – a highly enthusiastic quick review

It's an awesome film. And a harbinger of the future?

Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish.  And that’s the talent behind the camera.

To say that this latest adaptation of Herge’s “Tintin” adventures arrives with a burden of expectation is to understate things.  There’s every chance, if you’re a nerd, that this is your most eagerly awaited film of the year, mixing as it does the talents of the film-makers above, the likes of Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg in performance capture form and James Cameron’s revolutionary ‘Volume’ tech to knit things together.

First things first – watching this film makes you think that you’re watching a game changer.  The fluidity of the performances, animation, cinematography and editing combine and make “Tintin” something of a revolution. It’s hard to see why you wouldn’t want to work with this technology if you’re making a large-scale action adventure film, if the action sequences in this film are any indicator.

Go and see “Tintin” and then imagine what merry hell James Cameron’s going to come up with if he gets to make “Battle Angel Alita”.  During the extended action sequence set in Morocco, my jaw hit the floor not once but twice – I couldn’t believe the visceral and exhilarating nature of the adventure Spielberg was delivering.  It’s hard to put into words as you’re aware that stunt people didn’t have to get into vehicles, camera cars didn’t have to follow a route and nobody was in any danger of being injured by the nature of the activity that eventually ended up on screen but nonetheless you’re watching Spielberg stage, realise and deliver some of the most astonishing on-screen mayhem that he’s ever come up with.

And that’s one sequence – there are around five huge set-pieces which boggle the mind equally, whether it’s the staging, the astonishing attention-to-detail in the animation, the quality of the performance capture, John Williams’ best scoring work in an age or the cumulative effect of Spielberg, Peter Jackson and co. dreaming up this adaptation and keeping everything cohesive up until its final realisation on-screen.

It’s a mind-boggling piece of work – and it feels like the future of this kind of blockbuster cinema.  It flows so well, with match-cuts becoming utterly poetic given the ability of the computer to blend seamlessly between the present, the past, the imagined and almost inventing a whole new vocabulary for directors to play with.

Blimey, imagine if Spielberg made the next “Indiana Jones” movie with this kind of tech…

That’s not to say that the hardware and software are the only thing to be interested in with this movie.  It’s a great adventure, full of daring escapes, mystery, puzzles, traps, pirates, pitched sea battles, desert wandering, a singularly plucky terrier, opera singers and a million and one other cool things.

The performances are wonderful, alchemic marriages between the raw theatrical performances of actors on set and what the animators deliver with that data and with the crucial idea that these characters have had a long life in comics which are beloved by an entire continent – you’re watching Tintin, played by Jamie Bell, animated by stupendously talented people and the end result is just dizzying.  It’s real, but comic book and utterly contemporary but somehow warm and old-fashioned.

Watching the end film, you can’t help but be won over by the sheer talent at play here, by the craft and wit and skill which went into this utterly distinctive and exciting film – it’s a popcorn blockbuster to treasure, an adaptation to appreciate and a film to utterly enchant you if you give yourself over to it.

 

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