The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn - Review

While America's strength in comics is mostly focused on the superhero genre, Europe's comic stories center more around kid-friendly adventures like "The Smurfs", "Asterix" or "Tintin".
Therefore, it's a pretty brave pick for Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg to bring a feature animated movie of Tintin to the big screen. In a time, when the US film industry apparently knows what international audiences want, European source material was always a bit harder to handle and to make appealing to everyone (just look at how little European movies are released in cinemas outside of Europe compared to American movies).
Anyway, personally, i was never a big Tintin fan, though i appreciate and respect it as one of the pinnacles of European comic art.
As a result, i wasn't all that hyped for this movie, despite the involvment of two great directors. It was fairly low on my radar this entire year.

The plot:
Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock's ancestor. But someone else is in search of the ship. (source: IMDb)

Right from the start you will notice that the movie gets the story going incredibly fast without building up or patting that much. I am not quite sure if the movie's fast pace is a good thing or not, but it defninitely makes the movie very exciting, and though it's a fast pace it's never a rushed one.
With that said, it is incredibly easy to get into the story and the flow of it. The narrative structure reminds one immediately of the comic stories: artifact, clue, adventure,...
Basically, it's sort of a typical Indiana Jones tale, but it's done so well. Like with many other Spielberg films, you can instantly feel his style throughout the entire movie. In particular, regarding the various great action scenes and their arrangements (you will get serious (but likable) Indiana Jones flashbacks).

The most important achievement of this flick is how Spielberg and Jackson made it easy to access for ANYONE. There is absolutely no knowledge about the source material required to get into the story, like the characters and ultimately enjoy this great movie. All characters get introduced nicely and without leaving you with big questions, making this film feel like the "first" adventure of Tintin.

Although, at times the story isn't all that much for kids as initially thought (for example there are a couple moments that include the use of alcohol and blood depiction), there is plenty of comedy that is very likely to please adults and kids at the same time. It does a shockingly great job balancing the humor of both.

The voice acting is also top notch. Each actor matches exactly the character that they are voicing and does a great job. Most notably, Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock.
The movie features a good amount of various sympathatic characters to choose your favorite from. It's almost impossible not to like at least one of them.
The only thing that i would have handled differently was the villain. He can be spotted exactly the first time that he appears on screen. He is pretty much stereotypical, and is by far the least interesting of the characters but he does his job, so that's just a minor nippick.

Without exaggerating now, "The Adventures of Tintin" features probably the best animations in an animated movie yet. Sure it's also motion capture, but again, it's done with such good effect. Also, it has the best animated facial animations i have seen yet, blending human facial expressions with comic/cartoon style animation. As if real actors would play cartoon characters. It's hard to describe but the result is without a doubt amazing. It's like watching a cartoon with real actors playing them although they aren't....nevermind, just watch it yourself.
Of course, all the memorable characters from the comics can immediately be recognized.

The action is where this movie shows its true greatness. As i said, the action is choreographed very "spielbergish", but that's what makes those scenes so awesome. Those scenes are probably the biggest improvement over the original Tintin stories from the comics (without any disrespect towards them).
The path of the action partly goes so crazy that it feels like they would have been almost impossible to depict effectively in a cartoon, let alone a live-action movie.
The action alone is worth seeing this film.
I didn't see this movie in 3D, but simply judging by the glorious action scenes, the 3D should be worth the watch.

All in all, i wasn't expecting much from "The Adventures of Tintin", and thought it would be a forgettable animated experience. Luckily, i was a 100% wrong. Spielberg managed to entirely blow my expectations away. The movie is well thought out with great action scenes equally at the same level of entertainment like the ones from the Indiana Jones franchise.
Additionally, it features great humor for both young and old, which is incredibly well balanced without offending either one age. Topped off with very likeable characters and a storyline that doesn't require any knowledge of the source material what so ever, i can suggest this movie to both fans of the original Tintin stories and also just to anyone who likes fun and great entertainment.

Regarding its partially occuring parallels with Indiana Jones, "The Adventures of Tintin" is not only at least a dozen times better than "Indiana Jones 4", but in my opinion, THIS is how "Indiana Jones 4" should have been like. How come a movie from an entirely different franchise manages to do more justice to the original Indiana Jones trilogy than the actual fourth installment??

However, i can't point out a single relevant negative aspect about Tintin. It's my personal surprise hit of the year (by far). If Spielberg can keep this amount of quality throughout potential sequels, i am totally ok with him making as many as he wants.
But before that, go watch "The Adventures of Tintin".

Final Verdict: 8 out of 10


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