Tons of movie review clichés come to mind when thinking of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. “A non-stop thrill ride” or “action packed.” For once those clichés are completely true. With Tintin, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson have made the best action/adventure movie since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Based on a series of Belgian comics, The Adventures of Tintin is a truly wonderful experience. Once it hits its stride, it never slows or lets viewers catch their breath. It is easily the most fun movie of 2011.
Spielberg is the modern master of the adventure movie. There has been nothing for the last 20 years to match the Indiana Jones series. Tintin is Spielberg at the height of his powers. Every moment of this movie is just brimming with action. Fistfights, gunfights, and a marvelous pirate swordfight. It also features possibly the single best car chase I’ve ever seen on film. It is literally a thrill a minute.
Even with the constant motion of the plot, the heart of the characters comes through. There is the comically bumbling Detectives Thomson and Thompson, the drunken but stouthearted Captain Haddock, and the devious villain Saccharine. Tintin himself is somewhat bland, a solid everyman who never quits but lacks outstanding characters traits. Which is the intention, he plays the straight man to everyone else’s funny man.
The plot involves Tintin buying a model ship, only to find a piece of a map to a magnificent treasure. While he tries to unravel the mystery of the Unicorn, the name of the model ship, he ends up in a race against a monstrous criminal with only the aid of a bumbling drunken ship captain.
The only flaw of the film is its method of animation. It maybe could have been live action, or it could have been traditionally animated. But no, they used that incredibly off-putting and terrible uncanny valley monstrosity motion capture. The technique has been used to great effect in live action films, but the films that use it exclusively are uniformly bad looking. Tintin actually looks better than most, but many of the characters are more cartoon shaped, playing off the look of the comic characters, rather than trying to look like real people. Still, it is an unfortunate choice.
The other problem I had was also a viewing problem, but this coming rant is largely unrelated to Tintin. For the love of God can 3D movies die already. I can not think of a single film that has been improved by being in 3D. It makes the screen darker, the already overpriced tickets cost more and encourages bad filmmakers to show something coming out of the screen right at you! Wow! As far as I’m concerned, 3D can fuck off and go away forever. If I have a choice, I will never choose to see a movie in 3D, and have actually decided not to see films because they were only available in 3D near me.
The Adventures of Tintin, though, is really great. Any lovers of adventure owe it to themselves to see this. Spielberg and Jackson are a dynamite combination. This is just a wonderfully fun movie.