The relentless pace of ‘The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn’ is astonishing. The debut big screen outing for Hergé’s iconic hero and his four-legged sidekick Snowy launches into the action from its opening minutes as the boy detective is embroiled in the plot to steal a model ship containing a mysterious note. From there, it races from one dazzling set piece to the next as Tintin, believing it contains the secret to a sunken treasure, is catapulted on a globetrotting adventure to uncover the location of a the real-life vessel with another murderous party in pursuit.
‘The Adventures Of Tintin’s jaunty stride as its hero pieces together the puzzle to locate the ship, The Unicorn, is only interrupted by brief moments as the film pauses to explain the plot as clearly as it can. “What is it about this model that would cause someone to steal it?” Tintin wonders aloud, for example, after his apartment is burgled and the model disappears. “Something must have happened on this ship,” he muses. Steven Moffat’s script, which was written in partnership with ‘Shaun Of The Dead’s Edgar Wright and ‘Attack The Block’s Joe Cornish, does this for the benefit of young audiences who may need some of the twisty caper clarified for them. Adults may, however, find some of this heavy-handed explanation a little flabby for an otherwise lean adventure ride.
Even when the film’s storyline intermittently grinds to a halt for Tintin to spell out some of the plot’s ambiguities and character’s motivations, ‘The Adventures Of Tintin’ is carried by its visually ravishing CGI animation. Spielberg creates the film with performance-capture technology that gives the characters a realism, all of which are further brought to life by an exceptional voice cast whose standouts include Daniel Craig as the villain Sakharine and Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock.
Meanwhile, ‘The Adventures Of Tintin’ still boasts the kind of fantastical spectacle that celebrates the creative freedom animation offers. The beauty of animation is that there is no limit to your imagination and, fittingly, there are scenes here that could never have been realised with live action, even by a director of Steven Spielberg’s calibre. A prime example is the bombastic downhill pursuit of a falcon who is carrying a note in its bite. The camera soars alongside the bird as heroes and villains alike chase the bird and leave plenty of destruction in their wake.
This review is part of New In Cinema’s Steven Spielberg season. Find all our reviews and on-going rankings of Spielberg’s movies here.