The Adventures of Tintin

I present to you my first reaction (in shamelessly broken French, no less!) about the movie.

Spielberg et Jackson n’ont pas déçu. “The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn” est, tout simplement, MERVEILLEUX. J’adore le film tellement beaucoup. J’aime surtout le petit chien de Tintin, Snowy (Milou). C’était très nostalgique parce qu’il y a plein d’hommages aux bande dessinées de Hergé. J’ai presque pleuré regarder certaines parties. Et je vais absolument acheter le livre “The Art of The Adventures of Tintin” très bientôt!

Because, you see, even though the entire movie is done mostly in British accented English with no trace of Belgian French whatsoever, with the amount of nods and winks to Hergé’s original Tintin comics, I felt that it needed to be reviewed – even just a little bit – in its original language. 😉

Longtime fans of the comics may find the Steven Spielberg film a little lacking in the “spirit” of Tintin. I felt like a little bit of something was missing although right now I can’t really put my finger on it. I think this might be due to Spielberg being an American (read: Hollywood) filmmaker. The Tintin series has always had that “European” feel to it so Spielberg, who was late in getting to know Tintin and probably has different filmmaking sensibilities than European directors, might not have been 100% successful in translating the comic book’s nuances on screen.

Nonetheless, it’s a brilliant film. Spielberg got the basics right and he was very respectful to Hergé’s vision. As a longtime fan, I don’t have major complaints. I also never expected the movie to be so charming and fun and, true to its name, highly adventurous.

The animation is top notch – it’s something I’ve never seen before. The mo-cap filmmaking technique proves itself to be a great tool for telling a well-written story (by Steven Moffat and Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish). The characters move like real humans but because they’re animated there are so many things they can do that real actors (and animals) would’ve got injured doing! And the level of details in the final rendering is mind-blowing. You could see the thin red lines in Andy Serkis’ Captain Haddock’s eyes and the freckles on Jamie Bell’s Tintin’s face and the texture of his hair. It’s amazing. That’s what I call a technology worth all the hype it got.

I know there were some people who questioned the merits of animating Tintin instead of shooting it as a live-action feature. I admit I was a little disappointed too when I found out that I wouldn’t be seeing the actors playing Tintin & Co. using their real faces and bodies. But after watching the movie, I understand how difficult it would’ve been to get the tone and nuance of the story right. As I mentioned before, even shot as an animation using state-of-the-art technology, the movie still loses some of its original qualities… but I have a feeling it would’ve been worse if they pushed for a live-action feature because the characters’ images are so iconic no actor in the world would easily come close to them.

Surprisingly enough, even though I couldn’t see their real forms, the acting is still wonderful. Daniel Craig as Red Rackham/Ivan Sakharine is a delicious comic-book villain and Andy Serkis, as usual, just owned the role. (It is seriously baffling that he has never won any acting awards just because he’s acting in a tight mo-cap suit. This is ridiculously unfair. I may have to start a campaign to get him a Best Actor or Best Supporting Acting in something!) Jamie Bell’s Tintin is youthful and true to the character – I love how curious, intrepid and assertive he is. Not only does he and the role fit each other like a glove, his chemistry with Serkis is evident, creating accidental bromance between their characters and many tender moments in the film.

The show stealer, however, is Tintin’s little white dog Snowy. Adorable is not a sufficient adjective to describe what Snowy is in the movie. Spielberg and Jackson got the dog spot on. Snowy’s pretty much a fully fleshed out character, just as he was in the comics, if not more.

Coming back to the nods and winks to the original works by Hergé, I believe the homages are going to tickle the fans’ fancy. I personally couldn’t help squealing seeing things like a golden crab, the newspaper Le Petit Vingtième and the plethora of Haddock curses. And then they brought out the big guns. *SPOILER ALERT* The Milanese Nightingale made a cameo. *END SPOILER* (I nearly wet my pants I was so excited.) I won’t elaborate so you’ll have to see it for yourself, but let me tell you… it was just as good as if Professor Calculus himself had made an appearance.

I hope the movie does well in the box office so we’ll get a sequel (preferably with Professor Calculus). To be honest, it deserves a sequel simply for the fact that there are plenty more adventures of Tintin that can be told. Realistically speaking, though, it needs to bring in a lot of money for the studio first (especially because I think the production budget on the movie must be exorbitant). More importantly, I hope the movie will attract a new generation of Tintin enthusiasts who will start reading the comics (also, Americans.) I believe the movie won’t stop at making the existing fans happy; it will also serve as an introduction, or a point of entry, to the wonderful world and adventures of Hergé’s beloved works.

Say it together with me now: “Billions of Bilious Blue Blistering Barnacles!


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