By Jamila Soso-Vincent
With children these days frothing at the mouth over aliens, talking animals and all sorts of wizardry, you would be forgiven for thinking that The Adventures of Tintin (created in 1929) would be of little interest to a modern audience.
Director Steven Spielberg’s comic-to-big screen animation has all the staples of a brilliant adventure. There’s a lovable hero, a deliciously wicked villain, mystery, danger, comedy and of course a clever dog. Who could ask for more?
Dodge bullets and battle wits
The plot centres around award-winning reporter Tintin (voiced by Jamie Bell), his dog Snowy, and the boisterous alcoholic Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis). They team up when criminal master mind Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig) kidnaps Tintin and sparks mutiny on Haddock’s ship, in an attempt to find and steal the long lost treasure of Sir Francis Haddock, the sea captain’s swash-buckling ancestor.
The trio travel across the Atlantic Ocean and the Sahara Desert to Morocco. Along the way, they dodge bullets and battle wits with criminals in their quest to foil Sakharine’s dastardly plans.
Since its first appearance, the comic series, which was created by Belgian artist Hergé, has been made into a cartoon and television series. There have also been a few films, but none as successfully done as this.
Spielberg combines three of Tintin’s classic tales to bring us The Secret of the Unicorn, tintinologists (hardcore Tintin fans) must have gasped at when movie details were publicised earlier this year. But never fear; it works beautifully.
This movie stays true to Hergé’s original characters: Tintin is fresh-faced and fearless, Captain Haddock bellows his trademark profanities, Snowy is quite possibly smarter than his owner, and the Thomson/Thompson detective twins are as bumbling and inept as ever.
Spielberg and co-director Peter Jackson get full marks for casting, as the actors sound exactly how you would expect them to if you grew up reading the comics and the 3D motion and CGI effects are amazing.
Comedy is plentiful too, courtesy of Captain Haddock. You will laugh out loud when he lights a fire on a wooden boat to keep warm, and even louder when he minces through the streets of Bhaggar in a ladies’ dress, with Sakharine’s henchmen hot on his heels. The only disappointment was the absence of the half-deaf Professor Calculus, but he will surely appear in future sequels.
Former manager of the Tintin estate Jean-Claude Jouret publicly criticised Spielberg’s version concerned that it might “undermine Hergé’s”. Keep your knickers on Jouret. The Tintin legacy has not been sullied. It has simply been polished up to be passed on to the next generation.
The Secret of the Unicorn is in cinemas now, just in time for schools’ half-term break. But don’t be surprised if you find an older crowd jostling your elbow in the queue, paying for tickets to see Tintin!