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Spoilers below, so if you have not watched you will be have your experience ruined.

The Tintin comics have been a part of my childhood that I treaure greatly, and this movie made me realise just how important they were. It soon joined the list of Tintin adaptations I had the pleasure to watch, alongside the Nirvana television series. While I am disappointed that the movie was not traditionally animated (which is the medium I believe does most justice to the comics), I am greatly pleased that the director and producer, among the most notable faces in Hollywood, were every bit as fans as I am, and thus I did not went to see the movie expecting disappointment.

Based on Le Secret de la Licorne, several changes were made, but unlike those in the Asterix movie adaptations, these ones were logical and needed. For instance, Tintin already was friends with Haddock when this story took place in the comics, but here he meets him for the first time; since this is the first great cinematic release where these characters appear, and since Haddock plays a huge role in the story, it was required to have him introduced properly instead of just randomly appearing as if you already knew him, which sadly most of the intended audience (the americans and the british) doesn't. This does lead to a plot hole, though a fairly minor one.

The story begins in a belgian market where Tintin buys the model of a ship called Unicorn (with a unicorn in the bow in the place of a mermaid no less), when a fat guy wants to buy the ship, only to be discover that Tintin already bought it. Thankfully, the fat guy merely warns Tintin that the bad guys want the ship model, and goes away. We never actually learn why the fat guy wants to buy the ship, nor why he wants to stop the villain, and actually he serves little purpose in the story, but I won't complain because he's lifted from the original story. Anyways, soon the primary antagonist, Sakharine, makes his first appearence, and attempts to do what the fat guy did, only more angrily. Tintin shoves him aside and goes home, but Sakharine is informed of Tintin's identity by the person who was selling the ship model, who is incredibly pissed off that nobody wanted the Unicorn until an attractive young reporter laid his hands on it.

Tintin returns home, but due to a cat that appears the fuck out of nowhere and Snowy's canine instincts the mast is broken, leading to a metallic cylinder to slide off. Tintin is not aware of it at first, but a robbery later makes him find a scroll with a poem. We also learn that Sakharine has an identical model (making him suspect due to wanting yet another model when he already had one), that he also has a buttler with the usual semi-robotic behaviour they generally display in media, and that the two incompetent cops, Thompson and Thompson, are after a pickpocket, who not only tries to steal their wallet, but also goes after and successfully steals Tintin's wallet (the fat guy had also been shot to death previously while trying to warn Tintin, but again his role is not particularly big).

Tintin is then kidnapped by two sailor crooks, and an incredibly amusing chase scene of Snowy going after the crooks takes place, until they all end up in SS Karaboudjan. Here, the crooks try to find the scroll, but fail, angering an already pissed off Sakharine. Snowy frees Tintin, who manages to escape into Captain Haddock's "prison" (actually an unlocked room). The two then proceed to try to run away, with the crooks set on murdering Tintin but ordered to not kill Haddock; due to Haddock's obsession with drinking, they spend more time in the ship than necessary, but this allows Tintin to access communication with Thompson and Thompson (who are after the pickpocket; latter, they succeed in finding him, but imbeciles as they are they fail to notice that the person who showed them a room filled with stolen pockets is the pickpocket until they find Tintin's pocket). They all escape to the life boat, much to Sakharine's chagrin. Both the villains and the heroes are set to go to the ficticious moroccan port of Bagghar; there are three Unicorn models after all, all built for the Haddock heirs (of which our Haddock is the last), and Sakharine is eager to get the final one.

After shenigans involving a seaplane that almost got them killed, the protagonists ended up on the Sahara desert, where mirages prove usefull as Haddock hallucinates about the story his grandpa told him: that his ancestor, Captain Haddocke (yes, with an "e" at the end and a silent "H") was the captain of the Unicorn, who was attacked by a pirate called Red Rackham (given his wardrobe prefferences, as well as being voiced by Daniel Craig, it is very obvious whose ancestor he is supposed to be, but since only the audience and Haddock ever see this character I supposethis is excused). This hallucination is cut short, however, and after nearly dying of dehydration they are saved and taken to a military post. Here, Snowy helpfully intoxicates Haddock with alcohol, making him hallucinate again, and we finally learn that the epic battle flashback ended with the sinking of the Unicorn and the dramatic reveal that Red Rackham is in fact Sakharine's long dead ancestor, and that he "cursed" Haddock's family and that they will fight again in another life. Sakharine's plan, therefore, is essencially revenge against Haddock, taking possession of what rightfully belongs to him and eventually killing him.

Riding to Bagghar in camels, Tintin and Haddock meet with the Thompsons, who provide Tintin with the scroll; Haddock is trusted with it. Somehow getting into Omar Ben Salaad's home (said arabic person is more or less the guy in chief for the port, and gleefully lets his subjects die of dehydration as he hords all freshwater for himself), they watch the performance of the fat bitch Bianca Castafiore, whose voice actually manages to make Haddock's eardrums bleed and shatter all glass in the palace. Needless to say, Sakharine, who was posing as Bianca's companion and heavily implied living dildo, uses this to his advantage, sending a falcon to grab the Unicorn model and accusing Tintin and Haddock of being thieves. However, his usage of the resulting chaos is limited as the heroes chase after him and his falcon; they manage to blow up the damn and saving everyone in the port from dehydration, as well as bringing the hotel where the Thompsons were staying near the sea, winning it another star, but ultimately fail as Sakharine gets away with the three scrolls after threatning to drown Snowy. Tintin gives up the chase, but Haddock gives a rather atypical (and frankly a quite awesome one, since it has his own drinking problem as it's base) "never give up speech", that further motivates Tintin.

Sakharine ends up in Belgium again, but trapped inside his own car by Haddock, Tintin and the Thompsons. However, he pulls out a gun and finally decides to kill Haddock, and both have an awesome fight scene involving cranes. Predictably, Sakharine loses and is arrested, and Tintin and Haddock follow the coordinates present in the three scrolls once they are aligned. They end up in Sakharine's former manor, where the butler is disappointed to learn that it won't be ruled again by a Haddock, as our captain wants to keep living in the ocean. After finding a secret cellar, the treasure is finally found, and we're left with a sequel hook.

In short, I love this movie.

It is quite frankly the best film I've seen since Toy Story 3, and in my honest opinion it is among the best animated movies made this century, and perhaps Spielberg's best return to the big screen since his abysmal failures he presented lately. The script was written by Steven Moffat, best known for writting for the new Docotr Who series, and fittingly it is rather well written. His iconic signature pacing can even be observed; the movie starts very fast, then slows down considerably and rather dramatically. This pacing style guarantees that the viewer is not bored, but has the unfortunate side effect of making the first ten minutes or so harder to remember. Nevertheless, it works very well for Tintin's adventure plot style.

This is so far one of the few movies who genuinely made me laugh (and not just smirk). The jokes are not only actually fun, but very clever, and a lot of subtle humour can be found, including slight nods to the comics' political commentaries, most evident in the part of the movie taking place in Bagghar (although some of the implications border on cynicism). Overall, though, the main focus is obviously on the complex plot brought fourth by the antagonist and the measures the protagonists use to prevent that (as well as finding the treasure themselves), leading to plenty of quite serious moments (though several times well mixed with humour and sheer badassery).

I'm rather pleased with the way the characters are written. Tintin is iconically the curious reporter as he is in the comics; unlike many protagonists, his character borders more on "neutrality" (by D&D terms), his main motivations being curiousity and reactions to the villains, making him a rather good example of a "Blue" protagonist. Indeed, his boy-scoutish style morality is largely removed, which frankly is an improvement since it always seemed out of place in the original comics. His voice is offered by Jamie Bell, who elegantly keeps his english accent; to me, listening to a supposed belgian's english accent is odd, but I'm rather satisfied as an american accent would just be awfull. Tintin's main companion, Snowy (Milu in the original belgian comics and in several translations, such as the portuguese one) is a fairly generic dog companion, but a very amusing character nonetheless, and simply loveable. He accidently starts the whole plot, and serves as the main foil to Sakharine's own companion, a falcon.

After his introduction, Haddock arguably steals the protagonist spotlight, something hardly unexpected since the villain's plot is all about him. An alcoholic captain, Haddock is depicted as he originally was in the first issues of the comics: a constantly intoxicated (although always fairly sober [extreme resistance?], making it hard to pinpoint when exactly he is drunk or not) mariner who is quite impulsive, the perfect foil to the usually always rational Tintin (the fact that he has a scottish accent in this movie helps); in later appearences, he was depicted as a cynical, yet heroic socialite (who still drinks his ass off), but these developments have no place in this movie. In fact, when Tintin was generally the idealistic character in the comics - where Haddock plays the cynical foil -, the roles are reversed in the movie, with Haddock delivering the "never give up" speech to motivate a hopeless Tintin; this irony can be taken negatively, but since Haddock's speech is rather quite original, I won't criticise this reversal.

The villain is in my opinion among the most interesting developments of the movie. Originally a fairly minor character (and not a particularly villainous one at that), here Sakharine is portrayed as a rather efficient and ruthless plotter. Contrary to the expected type of villain in this type of plot, his desire is not greed, but revenge on Haddock's family after the failure of Red Rackham. He is particularly fascinating in that he is simultaneously very clever and yet irrationally emotional, his goals (pointless revenge via complex planning) being the best way this schism is exposed. He is not very threatning himself, but he is quite badass, his fighting style marked by sophisticated and efficient elegance, although not above using more brutish methods (like smashing cranes) in order to get the job done; in this respect, as well as in regards to the red motiff, he reminds me of Lord Shen from Kung Fu Panda 2. He too has an animal companion, a falcon, whose role is fairly restricted as Sakharine's minion and Snowy's evil counterpart; the relationship between man and bird is not explored further.

Minor characters are fairly stereotypical for this type of film, but mentions go for the Thompsons and Bianca Castafiore. The first (Dupont and Dupond in the original belgian comics) play their iconic role in this movie as the dimwitted cop duo whose incompetence makes one wonder how they became detectives in the first place. I in particular like their first apperence in the movie, where they look through a newspaper with eyeholes cut on it, an image often associated with them. Their main role in the story is related to the kleptomaniac pickpocket, which they fail to recognise as being the person they need to arrest even as they look at the countless wallets he stole (even not figuring out the obvious after discovering their own pockets!); they return twice later to deliver Tintin the scroll he found and to arrest Sakharine, but otherwise their role in the story is minimal after the scene in the pickpocket's home.

The latter minor character of important relevance, Bianca Castafiore, is notable because of her notability as the most re-occuring female character in the original comics, where she is essencially the diva opera singer celebrity that appears whenever the story needs one. Her role is generally neutral in the comics (although generally siding with Tintin), and indeed it is also neutral in the movie; invited to play at Omar Ben Salaad's palace, she offers the means through which the villain manages to adcquire the final Unicorn model. It is never made explicit on whereas she was always on Sakharine's side or if she was simply inoccent in the whole affair; that she was bothered by his falcon seems to suggest the latter, although she could just not like it regardless. She is also important because she introduces sexuality in this movie; while her fat, small brested, big nosed appearence sets her far apart from what is generally considered "sexy", Captain Haddock displays interest in her (well, at least until his ears bleed), and it is heavily implied Sakharine has (or is posing to having) a sexual relationship with her; this is a very heavy contrast from the largely asexual nature of the original comics, in which Haddock displays nothing but contempt for her, rendering his infatuation another ironic twist in relation to his character in the comics. While I find the inclusion fo sexuality unnecessary, since Tintin remains throughly asexual I'm not as bothered as I probably should be.

To end this review, I shall provide my opinion on the animated medium used. The visuals are magnificent, as to be expected from a modern GCI film. The land and seascapes are absolutely well rendered, looking very realistic but retaining the animated lighting that fills the background with colour. I in particular enjoy the desert scenes, the renditions of the saharan dunes and water reservoirs as very much worthy of admiration. The character designs, on the other hand, I'm more mixed about. All things considered, they look like a perfect mixture between the cartoonish designs and their supposed real-life counterparts; whereas this works or not depends. Maybe people complained about Tintin's uncanny valley design; aside from his eyes on some shots, I think he looked pretty decent. It's Captain Haddock that'll cause me nightmares; his cartoonish noose just stands bizarrely in a very realistic face of a middle aged mariner, and his sweating, accurately coloured skin just looks wrong on him. Overall, I think the human characters that were best rendered were Sakharine and Bianca.

Overall, I give this movie 8.6 out of 10.
gorgonbreath Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2011  Hobbyist
Unlike a lot of British people i have loved Tintin for a long time. I was worried that this movie would suck because the current writer for Doctor Who, Steven Moffat, was a writer on this movie.

I'm really pleased that dickhead Moffat hasn't wrecked this movie like he's done with dear old Doctor Who.:)
JohnFaa Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2011  Student Writer
He did create the Weeping Angels, but otherwise yeah, he seems like an arrogant dickhead.

His signature pacing does work for the movie though, since Tintin's adventure plot style does require a quick start.
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