THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN
US, 2011, 107 minutes, Colour.
Voices of: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Daniel Mays, Gad Elmaleh, Toby Jones, Mackenzie Crook.
Directed by Steven Spielberg.
The comic strips by Belgian cartoonist, Herge, have been around for a long time. Steven Spielberg discovered them in the 1980s, the time when he was making Raiders of the Lost Ark and ET. Obviously, they appealed to his sense of adventure and the kind of action that might be undertaken by a young Indiana Jones. It has taken a long time for him to film a Tintin story. He has chosen to make an animation film using performance capture where the actors perform their roles and the animated characters are drawn over them (seen in Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey).
Commentators and fans have been blogging opinions on whether Spielberg and his writers (including Edgar Wright, Shaun of the Dead, and Joe Cornish, Attack the Block) are faithful to the vision and style of Herge. Most agree that they are, that Tintin is a rather bland looking character (younger looking even than Dougie Howser was when he was an MD, even resembling Neil Patrick Harris) who is a journalist with a track record of solving investigations (as seen in the cuttings on his wall) but who has a zest and confidence for action – and the support of his rather engaging and interesting dog, Snowy. He is voiced by Billy Elliot himself, grown up, Jamie Bell. On the other hand, someone suggested that the alcoholic survivor, Captain Haddock, is the alter ego of Tintin, reckless, grizzled and landing (on sea and land) in all kinds of messy situations. He is voiced by Gollum himself, and Caesar from The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Andy Serkis.
Daniel Craig makes a good sneering villain, though the animation looks nothing like him. By contrast, the two rather plodding Interpol detectives, Thomson and Thompson, are played for laughs by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. And the compulsive, tall, wallet kleptomaniac is played also for laughs by the short Toby Jones.
This is a Boys Own Adventure, Herge plus Spielberg style, lots of pace and action. Tintin buying a model ship, is almost immediately set on by Interpol and the sinister Sakharine. Secret messages, searches of other model ships, setting sail and discovering Captain Haddock, flashbacks to pirates, stranding on the high seas, a plane to Morocco, calamities as a dam bursts and races through the city, final confrontations with sword and wrench and heavy lifting machinery.
Another reviewer said that it seemed like a visit to a theme park and that seemed to summarise this reviewer’s experience of a cleverly crafted film (and in 3D), an old-fashioned adventure, a big 2011 matinee show.
1. The popularity of Herge, and his imagination, his cartoons?
2. In the career of Steven Spielberg, his interest in adventure, children, Boys’ Own action?
3. The film as a Boys’ Own adventure, ships, planes, the exotic city, the detection work of Tintin, the villains, Captain Haddock? John Williams’ score?
4. Audiences identifying with Tintin, young man, his appearance, bland-looking, his work as a young journalist, his search for article topics, going into action, his decisions?
5. Tintin at home, the walls and the reports of his cases, his love for Snowy, Snowy as his companion, getting involved with all the action, making a mess? At the market, buying the model ship? The Interpol agent trying to buy it? Sakharine and his approach, sense of menace? The offers? Taking the boat home, setting it up, the cat coming in, Snowy chasing the cat, the breaking of the boat, the message falling under the table? Going to the house, looking for the other model, the piece and the message, Sakharine and the confrontation?
6. The kleptomaniac, the technique of taking all the wallets? Thomson and Thompson, their looking like twins? Their comments to each other, the comic touches, their detection, Interpol? The encounter with the kleptomaniac, his wanting to confess, going inside, seeing all the wallets and their classifications? His being upset – and Thomson and Thompson not realising who he was?
7. Thomson and Thompson, their working together, the patter and the interactions? Their receiving Tintin’s cable, coming to Morocco, the explanations, helping in the confrontation with Sakharine?
8. The Haddock story, the treasure, Red Rackham and the confrontation with old Captain Haddock? The pirates’ attack? The confrontation, the mystery of the treasure?
9. Sakharine and his range of henchmen, the betrayal of the officer on the ship, the abduction, in action, the shooting?
10. On the boat, Tintin, freeing himself, his situation, the eagle swooping and getting the messages? Captain Haddock, his drinking, the initial encounter with Tintin? Captain Haddock’s character?
11. Tintin and Haddock, their working together, against Sakharine? On the boat, the chases, the shootings, people overboard? The lifeboats – and the decoy, their escape?
12. Drifting on the sea, Haddock’s thirst, his being called, lighting the fire? The overturned boat, the plane, the attack, Tintin taking it over – and able to fly it? Morocco, the desert, the crash-landing? Haddock breathing his fumes into the engine? Sakharine and his plan, the Melanese Nightingale? Her vanity? The setup of the concert, the Moroccan chieftain? The audience? Her singing, the glass all cracking, the chandeliers, the bulletproof glass for the ship? The eagle? The message? Its changing hands? The danger, the escape, the dam bursting, the hotel going down the road to the seafront?
13. Tintin, the message, Thomson and Thompson arriving, checking Sakharine, finding out where he was going – and the return to London?
14. In London, the information and going back to the house, Haddock and the solution, the different basements? The fight with Sakharine? Sword and wrench? The lifting gear for heavyweight objects?
15. The search, the treasure, the plans?
16. Further adventures of Tintin in other films? A satisfying matinee film for boys, family audiences?