I cannot begin to imagine what possessed me not only to almost miss this film, but to doubt even for a second that it would be anything but brilliant. This is Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson: two of the most masterful storytellers of our time and their rendition of Tintin is an absolute treasure.
With Spielberg, as director and producer, and Jackson also as producer, there was so much hype around this film. When I first heard about its making I was very excited. My misgivings came into play when I discovered that it was to be a motion-capture, CG film and not live-action. The likes of The Polar Express and Beowulf have cast a dark pallor over this form of film-making, despite being put to excellent use within live-action films such as The Lord of the Rings and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Nevertheless this is Tintin, and as part of my childhood, I felt compelled to watch the film. Its success, both as a comic book and as a film, lies in its superb story-telling. The fact that it is all CG is utterly irrelevant; the story is what matters and, furthermore, Spielberg stays true to the characters in every way with charming nods to creator Herge along the way. What’s more: despite my initial aversion to the way the film was to be delivered, the results are excellent. The images are beautifully rendered and the film is full of colour and life.
Based primarily on The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure, the timelessness of Tintin is carried through perfectly into the film. There is no outright indication of when this is meant to be set, but it thankfully steers clear of the present day. Tintin’s quest for answers leads him to do research in the library and takes him on adventures aboard an old-fashioned vessel; all these tiny details allow us to be carried away to a time and place other than our own.
As long as you have a solid story and characters you can believe in, the audience will be invested in what is happening on screen. Yet, in addition to already mastering these two aspects, this magnificent adventure has plenty of eye-popping action and delightful wit. Thomson and Thompson, as well as Captain Haddock, provide the laughs while Tintin and Snowy remain the heart of the film.
Part of Spielberg’s success is due to his faithful crew that have stuck with him for many years. John Williams is on board again with a fantastic score and Janusz Kaminski and Michael Kahn are ever-present as cinematographer and editor, respectively. However, Spielberg is not afraid to venture into new territory, as he does with Tintin. Furthermore, his collaboration with Peter Jackson as producer is a match made in heaven.
These two legends have also gone about securing the perfect cast. As can be expected with a motion-capture film, Andy Serkis (Gollum, King Kong, Caesar et al) is on board with magnificent turns from Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Not that this is a star vehicle, far from it, but their skill and devotion to this form of film-making breathes life into the characters.
We are still in the beginning stages of 2012, but so far this is my film of the year and with rumours of Jackson being set to direct a sequel my ticket can be considered sold.
Originally published on Dinner and a Movie