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Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, The (3D)


Stars: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Toby Jones, Mackenzie Crook, Daniel Mays, Gad Elmaleh

Director: Steven Spielberg

After fatally crippling one franchise with the truly dismal Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Steven Spielberg, splendidly aided and abetted by fellow producer Peter Jackson, has created another surefire success with a rousing adventure franchise that brings Belgian creator Hergé’s classic stories, charting the exploits of the eponymous young reporter, vividly to life. Packed with action and spectacle, driven at a thrilling pace by Spielberg and decorated with picture-perfect 3D and vivid motion-capture characters, this is guaranteed family entertainment that will leave young moviegoers in particular baying for a sequel. Happily one is signalled here.

Right at the start Tintin is told, “You’re about to walk into a mess of danger”, but happily he ignores the warning.

Motion capture is instantly justified by the creation of Tintin’s faithful and super-smart canine companion Snowy who could well succeed Lassie as Hollywood’s favourite pooch. The action – and there’s plenty of it – kicks off when Tintin buys an ancient model ship that hides an extraordinary secret and is drawn into danger involving an priceless ancient treasure, a diabolical villain who wants the treasure and is prepared to do anything to get it. Naturally, he doesn’t – but not before Our Hero has encountered perils a-plenty, collaborated with salty Captain Haddock, crossed paths with twittish twin detectives Thompson and Thomson and travelled around the world to find the longed-for treasure…

The all-British writing team of Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish’s witty, incident-packed and faithful-to-their-source screenplay blends exhilarating and ingenious adventure with mordant wit (“A man has been shot on our doorstep”, Tintin tells his landlady who simply comments “Not again!”) and stand-out sequences in the air (Tintin assures Haddock he knows what he’s doing as he takes the controls of a biplane, explaining, “I interviewed a pilot once”) in the desert and on the oceans and, memorably, an extraordinary duel between dockyard cranes.

Vocal casting is spot on: Bell is ideal as the fresh-faced reporter, Craig is eminently hissable as the wicked Sakharine and Serkis is Haddock to a T while Frost and Pegg are better heard than seen as the twin detectives.

This is that rare specimen, a not-to-be-missed movie for thrill-seeking youngsters that parents will be happy to enjoy along with their kids.

Alan Frank

USA/New Zealand 2011. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by deluxe.
106 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 23 Oct 2011