The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

A whole lot of fun like only Spielberg can bring us!

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is a marvelous movie. It perfectly embodies the beauty of Hergé’s unique visuals with modern animation and motion capture technology, all unfurled on screen with producer/director Steven Spielberg’s master story-telling and child-like energy. Combining their creative genius, Spielberg and co-producer Peter Jackson (whose studio Weta Digital is behind the visuals) make the dream of Tintin fans everywhere come true by presenting the much loved character and his adventures in the best possible way. While the movie does become overbearing at times, owing to its manic pace, it revels in the wonders and freedom of animation, uninhibited by the constraints a live-action adaptation would have imposed.

Tintin (voiced by Jamie Bell), a young journalist, and his dog Snowy are cast into an adventure when “The Unicorn”, a model ship he purchases at a market, becomes the object of everyone’s attention. Ivan Sakharine (voiced by Daniel Craig) tries to buy if off Tintin, but when he refuses, it is eventually stolen from his home. As Tintin embarks on a quest to discover the truth about the ship and its secrets, he stumbles into Captain Haddock (voiced by Andy Serkis) who seems to know more about the mystery than he cares to admit or can even remember. Together, they take on Sakharine in the race to unravel the secret of The Unicorn.

The movie, though it is titled “The Secret of the Unicorn”, is an amalgam of three books: The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham’s Treasure. The credited scriptwriters do an excellent job of providing the necessary character introductions while retaining the best bits from the books. In doing so, however, the storyline strays from how the events unfold in each of those three three books. Yet, fans will have little to complain about considering the narrative and pacing are a compliment to Hergé himself. While recent adaptations such as 300 and Sin City have been lauded for how faithful they have been in the transition from comic-book panels to the cinema screens, The Adventures of Tintin takes the next evolutionary step, buoyed by the boundless talents of one of the best directors working in the medium today. Undoubtedly, the biggest reason that Tintin works is the visuals. Weta Digital presents us with a world that walks a fine line between realistec and animated. The texture and backgrounds of this world are photorealistic, while the characters seem like living, breathing 3D counterparts of Hergé’s comic book creations.

It does not take long to be completely taken in by the movie’s love of exuberance. Tintin shares its dynamic sense of fun with Spielberg’s first Indiana Jones movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. References to his past movies, most prominently Jaws, and Spielberg’s recurring motifs only serves to make the entire movie experience all the more enjoyable. Even so, the breakneck pacing catches up and the last action set-piece seems a bit over the top. In other instances, the floating camera (that’s Peter Jackson there) is too quick, causing an uneasiness associated with the use of 3D technology. Though the movie is not perfect, its snags are far and few. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is ample proof of how much fun nearly two hours in the cinema can be.

Rating: ★★★★☆

About Shariq Madani

Shariq is a social, talkative, fun-loving guy who enjoys books, food and a long drive. But his real joy is in the comfortable darkness of a cinema, watching a good movie, and later spending hours discussing it.