starlac's avatar

starlac's Review of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

rated it: posted: Dec 14, 2011
Reviews: 226 | KF Managing Editor
Share this review
Share review on Facebook

There are a lot of big names here, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson the mains, but also the three writers of Steven Moffat (head writer of Doctor Who), Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) and composer John Williams. And thatís not even getting into the actors involved. So why did I feel so conflicted about the film.

Motion capture, the industry's modern-day rotoscoping, might have something to do with it, or the awkward looking character designs that look somewhere between their comic counterparts and real life, with detailed flesh that includes pores and slightly less than perfect eyes; which roughly puts them in a strange place in the uncanny valley. Mix the detail with the tradition designs of the characters as the film does, like Tintinís famous cowlick hair, it never really works. Bizarrely enough the style, kind of grew on me, as did the film, but never really to a point where I stopped noticing just how little the film has to say about its main characters that wasnít done before in prior adaptations.

Because, you know, Tintin has been in animation several times before, with three animated films, two traditional Belgium/French productions, one stop-motion film (also Belgium/French), * as well as two television series, one from Nelvana in the early nineties and a Ė you guessed it Belgium/French series from back in the fifties

This isnít actually a hundred-percent adaptation of The Secret of the Unicorn, rather itís a combination of two of the comics, with the main line concerning Unicorn, basic overarching story plot, etc, whilst taking elements from earlier serial The Crab with The Golden Claws. This is of course to introduce audiences who might not be that familiar with the original stories to Captain Haddock Ė Who Tintin already knew in the comic namesake Ė which is understandable to a point. It also allows scenes from said serial; like the hijacking of a plane and Haddockís first mate betraying him. On another note the good captainís alcoholism is intact, yep the Capís a drunk in this movie, and in fact his habit features into the plot on more than a few points, just as it should be.

Thereís some greatly done set pieces, pretty good writing, even if Tintinís dialogue seems a bit too close to Moffatís Doctor at various points during the film, and while the film has little to offer the Tintin universe beyond its spectacle, at least it doesnít delves into the depths that can kill adaptations. Ultimately, I think the film is good enough for what it is, even surviving my in-built loathing of mo-cap. Why I canít quite recommend it, I think that they are serious worse films that you can see in its stead.

A tentative 7/10.

*The Crab with the Golden Claws - 1947, was stop motion, Temple of the Sun - 1969, and Lake of Sharks Ė 1972 were traditional.