Hitting Europe's cinema screens several months before the USA's as a means of generating interest for a character no American had ever heard of, Steven 'makes amazing movies' Spielberg's 'The Adventures of Tintin' was a risky venture. From what I can gather, the film was in the pipeline for some 20 years, with rather crazy development woes almost as prone to disaster as Tintin himself - distributors dropping out and in; art direction changes; lead actors with bad schedules; consequent delays; it was, without doubt, a horrendously frantic few years for the film's development team.
Those days past, the film now released and having generated $370million worldwide, it wouldn't be unreasonable to say it all paid off quite handsomely. 'The Adventures of Tintin' is the incredible start of what could be an incredible trilogy.
Using the new(ish) motion-capture technology seen in films such as 'Polar Express', 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' and 'Beowulf', lead character Tintin (played by Jamie 'Billy Elliot' Bell) resembles a computer animated ginger teenager; more La Roux than Ron Weasley; with a shark-fin quiff and perfect skin. He lives in a timeless European town, dusted with film noir-ish beauty, and is a reporter for some newspaper or another. He's never quite fully explained, but that's both the beauty of the character and Spielberg's intention - within the mystery of the film is the mystery of Tintin himself.
Drawing plots from 3 of the classic 'Tintin' books by Belgian author-artist Hergé, Tintin and his fox-terrier Snowy set out - rather, 'are thrown', out - on an adventure to solve a mystery surrounding a model ship. Naturally, someone else - someone bad (Sakharine, played by Daniel 'James Bond' Craig) - is trying to solve the same mystery simultaneously. Along the way, Tintin meets Captain Archibald Haddock (played by Andy 'Gollum' Serkis), an alcoholic sea captain with a gorgeous Scottish accent who's both lovable and hilarious. It would be disastrous to tell you what happens exactly in the film, it being a beautifully woven mystery-adventure, but know that it has been written by screenplay heroes Joe 'Attack the Block' Cornish, Steven 'Doctor Who' Moffat and Edgar 'Scott Pilgrim' Wright. In short, it is incredibly, impeccably written.
'Tintin' is, as director Spielberg puts it, a 'relentless adventure' film. The movie rarely lets its foot off the pedal, reflecting its adventure-driven source material, classic TV adventure serials and - of course - the 'berg's Indiana Jones films. For some, its relentless approach to the action and thrills may prove too much (the film's primary flaw), but for most, this film is a fantastically full-on shot of adrenaline. Being labelled 'animated' may also put some people off, but let me assure you - the film itself, though superb, couldn't work any other way. The animation is not only symbolic of the Belgian comics but lends itself to new, playful filming techniques that only Spielberg could properly utilise: the breathtaking one-shot chase-scene through Bagghar is among one of the most amazing action scenes of recent memory, and one could even go so far as to state it is among Spielberg's best work.
|Tintin's astounding Bagghar chase sequence. Image Source|
Do yourself a favour and go out and buy the film on DVD when it's released next month. It is, truly, one of the best animated films of the last few years. With a sequel coming within the next 3 years, this is the start of a new film saga to get excited about.
9 out of 10.