When you bring to together names like Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson on one movie, I have to see that film. But for some reason the Adventures of TinTin, the collaborative effort of two great film makers just did not seem to draw me in. It got rave reviews, golden globe nominations and even buzz for Academy Awards. Although it only ended up with an Academy nod toward John Williams score at least the buzz was there. So I decided to check out the film before it left the theaters.
When I sat down and started watching the opening credits the movie suddenly jumped in my estimation. One of the film writing credits went to Steven Moffat current show runner for BBC’s Dr Who and Sherlock, two of the best shows on TV, at least in the top 10 currently running by my estimation. I also got treated to the site of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as a few of the voices and I was rather shocked to see Daniel Craig up there with Andy Serkis. It just keeps getting better.
All the big names aside this is actually a pretty amazing and fun film. The computer animation on this movie is over the top good. The characters at times have so much detail as to look realistic for moments. The same with some of the action sequences. I actually think they did themselves a favor doing this movie on the computer. 1) The cost of some of those action sequences, especially the flashback battle between the Unicorn gun ship and the pirate marauder would have buckled any studio and ended the project. 2) The action at times was so over the top as to be unbelievable if they tried for live actors and CGI. The Pirates of the Caribbean pulled off something close to it with the ship battle in the 3rd film but the money they put out for that sequence could have been twice the budget of this movie.
The story follows intrepid report TinTin. Completely by accident he comes across a model ship, the Unicorn, a three mast, 50 gun, naval ship of the 17th century commanded by the great Sir Francis Haddock. From that moment everyone is after the ship, first offering him money and then flat out stealing it from his home. Unfortunately for the thieves, by the time they steal the ship, TinTin has already discovered a secret scroll hidden within it, one part to the location of the true Unicorn’s lost cargo and centuries’ old secret.
TinTin takes off to figure out the mystery. This is who he is after all. A boy adventurer who very well could be part of the inspiration for The Hardy Boys and Indiana Jones all rolled into one. Toss in a mix of Sherlock Holmes, without the smugness or overwhelming genius, and you have a pretty good idea of who TinTin is. Soon he crosses paths with the villainous Sakharine (pronounced like he is a packet of sugar) who captures TinTin and holds him hostage aboard his stolen cargo ship, the ship of Captain Haddock, direct descendant of the aforementioned Sir Francis Haddock.
Sakharine decides he needs Haddock alive but that the boy TinTin is useless. Before his goons can kill TinTin he escapes with the help of his trusty and resourceful dog Snowy. During his escape TinTin discovers Haddock, the drunken old sailor and a clue to what Sakharine is up to.
Haddock is an interesting character. I cannot say how accurate he is to the comics but it is interesting to have a character who is an excessive drunk inside what appeared on the surface to be a kid’s movie. While kids will have no problem watching this film it will be more for the action than the laughs. Making Haddock a drunk to that extent, to the point where he does not even function right or have full memories of events without a .08 blood alcohol to me is not as much of a kid’s type character, but they do well to make his antics silly and fun so no harm no foul I guess.
Haddock holds the key to unlocking the mystery of the Unicorn but he does not even remember it. Through flashbacks brought on by hallucinations as he begins to sober reveal clues to the mystery and also bring up some amazing action sequences and computer generated effects. If for no other reason, see this film to check out this scene. The sailing mast ship coming over the desert dune, the ship battle while their masts are entwined and aflame, the sword fight through the burning wreckage, all of it is truly fun and amazing visuals.
The numbers I see show TinTin did not make its budget back in the theaters. While Spielberg and Jackson’s plans were to make a series of movies with Jackson directing the next one, I am sure that the finances put a hamper on that. With those two powerhouses behind it I would imagine they could get a sequel off the ground despite the poor domestic box office showing and possibly just off the fact that it did well overseas. I fully expect a sequel but I would also expect the budget to be slimmed which is ok because all of the initial development work has been done. Personally I give this film high marks and recommend a DVD viewing. It is for slightly old kids as far as plot but I don’t think 7 or 8 years old is too young. There is very little blood and the violence is often cartoony to the point they should be able to handle it. What I really think is that given the chance, the kid inside us adults will enjoy the film more than most actual kids.