The Secret of the Unicorn

The Adventures of Tintin is Indiana Jones for kids. Tintin is a young journalist and globetrotting adventurer created in 1929 by Belgium cartoonist Hergé. His adventures took him all around the world, but many of his older stories are extremely dated. For decades Tintin stayed relevant with a series of European comic books, radio shows, cartoons, video games, and feature films both live-action and animated. Although I’m American, I knew about Tintin for many years. Mostly thanks to references made on The Simpsons and Arthur. So a major Hollywood motion picture didn’t surprise me too much. What is surprising is the impressive amount of talent connected to the movie. Hergé believed Steven Spielberg was the perfect director for a faithful Tintin movie after seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark. It took several decades of development, but Spielberg finally honored his dying wish.

I’m not sure he was expecting a computer animated motion capture film shot in 3D. Which technically makes The Adventures of Tintin the only animated Spielberg movie. Although mo-cap directors James Cameron and Robert Zemeckis visited the set, it was actually producer Peter Jackson who made the suggestion. That way the movie could somewhat creepily recreate Hergé’s artwork with photorealistic animation. Most comic characters are present including Tintin, his faithful dog Snowy, their crusty companion Captain Haddock, and bumbling police duo Thomson and Thompson. The latter two were voiced by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost since Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish wrote the film. Jamie Bell already proved himself to Jackson after appearing in King Kong. Andy Serkis was already a mo-cap expert, but now he had a chance to be funny. Snowy is entirely CGI and doesn’t speak since it would’ve been too distracting.

Although Tintin is a PG rated Nickelodeon movie, they aren’t above intense gun-toting action or Haddock’s comedic drunkenness. The plot draws heavily from the comic The Secret of the Unicorn. An adventure where Tintin meets Haddock and they both search for a lost ship connected to Haddock’s ancestor. Daniel Craig plays the British villain who constantly pursues the heroes. They face great dangers by plane, by boat, and by motorcycle. A motorcycle chase is particularly thrilling since it’s animated to look like one take. Unlike most adventure films, the treasure isn’t exactly found by the end. A sequel directed by Peter Jackson has been talked about for a long time, but nothing has come of it. Tintin was just a moderate success that only managed to win the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature. Shockingly, the only Oscar nomination it got was Best Original Score. Rango (another 2011 Nickelodeon movie) ironically won Best Animated Feature in its place. The Adventures of Tintin is a perfectly fine adventure that needed more name recognition.

The Adventures of Tintin

Tintin and Snowy read about the Unicorn

2 thoughts on “The Secret of the Unicorn

  1. I love Tintin!! I grew up watching the cartoon series from the 1980’s-1990’s, so much fun and so entertaining. They have that series and the 1950’s-1960’s original too on YouTube, the one I watched growing up can be watched in French or English, and the 60’s original can only be watched in French. I was hesitant to see the film, even though Spielberg is in my #1 in my top 10 directors, cause I loved the show so much that I didn’t think it could live to the childhood fun I had, but my parents did see it and said it was an absolute great time, so I’ll certainly give it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

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