The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)


Ace reporter Tintin buys a model ship at the local market and gets embroiled in an adventure to track down the lost treasure of seventeenth-century pirate Sir Francis Haddock…

Seen before? Yes, at the cinema on 6 November 2011 and on DVD a couple of times since.

Best performance: Andy Serkis plays Captain Haddock and is really brilliant, with lots of energy, charm and subtly. He’s often laugh-out-loud funny and holds the whole movie together – more than Tintin, this is *Haddock’s* story. (Although an animated film, actors performed their roles out through motion-capture technology, so they drove the characters’ movement, posture and expressions.) I spoke to Serkis on the phone once – he rang looking for my then boss, Gary Russell, with whom he was writing a book. I’ve actually met a large number of the key personnel on this movie… I’ve been introduced to co-writer Steven Moffat about three times through mutual friends – he was aloof, cold and totally uninterested in me each time. I once spotted Simon Pegg (one half of Thomson and Thompson) in Selfridges, so went and told him I’m a huge fan – he was friendly and open. The next day it was announced he would be playing Scotty in Star Trek. Last year, I saw co-writer Edgar Wright in HMV on Oxford Street, so said hello and told him I love his movies. (I don’t make a habit of this, by the way. Pegg and Wright are special cases.) He was polite and patient with my fanboyness. And, although I’ve never met him, I once transcribed an interview with producer Peter Jackson for a book on The Lord of the Rings, which basically makes us best friends.

ADDENDUM: I rewatched this film on Wednesday 13 August then wrote this review Thursday lunchtime. Literally a few minutes after finishing it, I popped to the nearest shop… and walked past Mackenzie Crook on Soho’s Broadwick Street. He plays one of the bad guy’s heavies in The Adventures of Tintin! When I saw him he had a baseball cap on, but clocked that I’d noticed him and gave me a ‘Don’t talk to me’ look.

Best scene/moment/sequence: An obvious choice, but I adore the comedic chase sequence in Bagghar, which is presented as a single 142-second shot:

Review: One of the reasons I wanted to do this #SpielbergWatch process was so I’d have an excuse to see this film again. I utterly love everything about it. It might be – no, is – the best-looking animated/CGI movie of all time. The level of detail, of craftsmanship, of beauty in the design is stunning. A complete artificial world is created, and repeated viewings are a treat because you continually spot new things in the background of each shot. But, crucially, there’s real heart behind this movie too. Like in Toy Story, you soon forget about the technology and the computers, and instead get swept up in the story and charmed by the sheer talent behind it. The plot is simple but smart, with clearly defined characters. There’s wit, whimsy, danger, plenty of visual gags and madcap action… I haven’t read the Tintin books in about 25 years but this seems spot-on to me. A glorious, glorious triumph.

Ten Milanese Nightingales out of 10.

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