The Adventures of Tintin Reviews
The animation detail in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is truly remarkable. From the first shot of the film I was completely enticed by the extensive detail on the characters and the universe around it. At first it appeared that everything was live-action, but as the simulated camera pans up to the character's face we see that Steven Spielberg has made an effort to embrace the cartoon roots of the story. It's often proved difficult for animated films to be this detailed in their realism without crossing into the uncanny valley, but Steven Spielberg manages to spearhead that with tremendous detail. As the film goes on we see the animation used for a variety of sequences, be they simple moments of conversation between the characters or action sequences depicting Tintin flying through a storm. The detail remains consistently impressive at all times, and the large variety of colours keeps the cartoonish spirit alive. During the more action-oriented scenes the animation becomes less realistic due to the impossibility of some of the activities being depicted and the fact that it relies on traditional animation rather than the motion-capture used to depict the characters, but the cartoonish charm in all this remains adamant the entire time. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn has some truly impressive animated work to it which certainly makes it worth seeing, and the way that it displays this throughout a mix of extended shots, moments of simulated shakycam and other techniques is a reminder of the director's never-ending visual expertise.
The musical score to the film is also a product of expert composition. Steven Spielberg once again gets a remarkable musical score out of John Williams who reminds us all that he is the greatest composer in the world of cinema. His music grasps the large scale of the story while mixing a feeling of intensity with adventure to keep the action sequences fun. And as far as the 3D element of the film goes, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn uses the gimmick far better than countless other contemporary films. Few films manage to stand out as solid 3D films, but The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn uses the gimmick extremely sparingly and not for just arbitrary purposes. It isn't always obvious when the film is 3D because the feature functions just fine as a 2D film, but nevertheless it is still a better example.
However, the story in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn acquires a more mixed response. The classic adventure style of the film serves as a throwback to Steven Spielberg's earlier work on his action adventure classic Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) which is sure to provide nostalgic joy to viewers. There are elements of an old-fashioned serial adventure and with swashbuckling sword fights to the film which keep it exciting, so The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn cleverly uses an old story with a modern style to bridge different generations of storytelling together. This includes the use of comedic elements to keep the experience as a fun one, whether it be visual humour or occasional quips in the screenplay. This way, the film should appeal to a wide audience. Having read up on Tintin as a child I found enjoyment in the cartoonish style mixed with the serious nature of the character's adventures. This feeling is realized by the film adaptation, and it makes for an experience rich with fidelity.
Still, the mood of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is not all that consistent. While at first the film appears to be a fast-paced adventure with the investigation of a mystery as the source of its consistent intensity, at takes a significant drop after its first hour. While the story is enticing, whenever the characters are caught up in periods of discussion it really slows the experience down since they don't have all that much interesting to say. The mystery is one of formula where the characters discover more through questing to new locations rather than intense intellectual studies, and as a result there is not much in the way of character development. As a result, the talkative moments do not offer that much lasting value. The script makes half an attempt to give background to the nature of Captain Haddock and his familiar history, but the other half is using him as comic relief and so the two do not necessarily intertwine. And with an arbitrary subplot about two bumbling detectives failing to catch a pickpocket, it just becomes clear that the story is not remarkably tenacious. The pacing in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is not as remarkable as the animation, and it drags down the adventurous nature of the experience.
But even without remarkable characterization, the efforts of the cast cannot be ignored.
Jamie Bell brings his natural charm to the role of Tintin, and it proves to be an ideal fit. The man has a boyish charm about him which matches Tintin's hunger for adventure, and he delivers every line with a real sense of curiosity and spirit. It's great to see him working in motion capture, particularly alongside Andy Serkis who has consistently proven as the greatest actor of the motion-capture world. The man also brings a gritty Scottish accent to the role this time and it is incredibly convincing. It's he who really steals the screen because he puts genuine emotion into the role of Captain Haddock while adding humour to it with ease. Andy Serkis and Jamie Bell make a fine duo in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.
Daniel Craig's sophistication makes him a cleverly manipulative villain, and the presence of comedic duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is always genial.
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is inconsistent with its tone and pacing, but its stunning animation and old-fashioned adventure makes for another strong entry into the Steven Spielberg filmography.