Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Adventures of Tin Tin ★ ★★ ★ ½

Releasing:  Australia December 26 2011    USA-December 21 2011 

It's A Brilliant Tintin World

The last time I read a comic book—sorry graphic novel—was more than thirty years ago.  Even then, “The Adventures of Tintin” did not beep on my radar.  My taste ran to 'Tales of The Crypt' and 'Twilight Zone' and the occasional 'Archies' and 'Scooby Doo'.

So I came to the screening of Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ with little knowledge of the character or the story.  There was a dog, a red headed guy and something about a motorcycle and a boat.

Not so my husband, who is usually dragged to previews—he likes movies but we go way too much for his taste.  'Tintin' was different.   He marched towards that cinema, kids and me in tow, recounting the wonderful adventures he’d read as a child.  “Tintin and Asterix were it for me,” he said, “Let’s get good seats.”

Tintin (Jamie Bell), an investigative journalist, and his dog Snowy, purchase a model ship called the Unicorn which carries a hidden secret.  But there are others interested in the model ship who break into Tin Tin’s home and, are prepared to kill anyone who stands between them and the ship.  Enter the villain, Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig) and, thus, begins a race to discover what is Ivanovich's interest in the ship—of course, it can’t be good—and how to thwart him.

In following obscure clues, as only Tintin can, he embarks on an adventure, crossing paths with Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) who, unfortunately, is more trouble than treasure, with his brain addled by years of drinking—a good lesson for the kiddies.  The two travel at a cracking pace, across seas and deserts via boats, planes, motorbikes, and even cranes, to ultimately solve the mystery of the sinking of the original Unicorn.

Fans of the books will be pleased to know, Inspector Thompson (Simon Pegg) and Thomson (Nick Frost) are there in all their bumbling glory—according to my husband, speaking exactly as he imagined them.  By the end of the film, you will be breathless from the ride and giggling from the fun of it all.  Thanks to the action and 3D effects, in one motorbike chase scene along cobbled streets, there was almost a sensation akin to the ‘Indiana Jones’ ride at Disneyland.

Of course, the ‘Indiana Jones’ director was the perfect choice to tell the Tintin story.  A huge Tintin fan, Director Spielberg first reached out to Hergé, Tintin’s creator, as early as 1983, and found the Belgian artist deeply enthusiastic about placing his clever character in the filmmaker’s hands.  But tragically, Hergé passed away before the two could meet.  Later, his widow, Fanny Rodwell, fulfilled his wishes, granting the rights to Spielberg. 
Spielberg then enlisted Director Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings trilogy) and Jackson couldn’t wait to tackle the task. “Steven really is quite similar to the Tintin character,” Jackson comments.  “He’s young at heart.  He’s very curious.  He has a great love of adventure, and his sense of humor pretty much matches what Hergé brought to Tintin.  It’s a perfect match.”

Using performance capture technology (as seen in 'Polar Express', 'A Christmas Carol') and accompanied by well used 3D, Spielberg and Jackson create a hugely believable world. So much so, you will find yourself repeating over and over, “It looks so real.”

Five decades and two dozen graphic novels later, Tintin has won millions and millions of hearts of every age group, in nearly every country around the world. Spielberg’s faithful and creative recreation of the character means millions more hearts will be won. 

Thanks to ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ film, you can now include me and my harsh film critics, the nine and eleven year olds, in the world of Tintin fandom.  Mr Spielberg, bring on the sequel.

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