By Mike Smith
In 1981, after reading a review that compared his recent “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with the illustrated adventures of a young man named “Tintin,” director Steven Spielberg began reading the various comics detailing the escapades of the diminutive Belgian investigative journalist. In 1983 he purchased the rights to make a film. The saying goes that all good things come to those who wait. After almost 30 years the wait is over. And well worth it.
While visiting the local market Tintin (Bell) is captivated by a model ship, the Unicorn, being offered for sale. The seller seems eager to move it and the sale is made for the whopping price of one pound. Moments later another buyer identifying himself as Mr. Sakharine (Craig) attempts to buy the ship, offering much more than the original asking price. But a sale is a sale and, despite his best offer, Mr. Sakharine watches Tintin walk off with the ship. Intrigued by Sakharine’s urgent insistence on obtaining the model, Tintin, with the help of his dog Snowy, does what he does best. Investigate.
I will make no secret here that if Hollywood was heaven Steven Spielberg would be my god (little “g” of course). His film “Jaws” is the reason I began my interest in movies and that interest has guided me both personally and professionally, up to and including being able to write film reviews. That being said, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that even if Steven Soderbergh had directed “The Adventures of Tintin” I would still rave about it.
Presented in the format known as motion capture, where the actions of the actors are digitally transferred to a computer, “The Adventures of Tintin” is an adventure film that carries you away in its magic. As Tintin and Snowy begin their quest they run into Captain Haddock (Serkis), whose ship has been chartered by Sakharine for a journey to Morocco. When Sakharine attempts to cause a mutiny, Haddock, Tintin and Snowy escape and make their way by land and air to the African country where they encounter another model of the Unicorn. And a clue that could lead them to a fantastic treasure!
I have never read a “Tintin” comic. In fact, if I hadn’t grown up with a few friends that collected comic books I most likely wouldn’t have heard of them. And I say this because, Tintin fan or not, if you like adventure you will like this film. Director Spielberg has given us sharks and U.F.Os and aliens and dinosaurs. His vision, of course, but helped by brilliant special effects people. And the same goes here. This is the best motion capture film I’ve ever seen. The attention to detail is incredible, so much so that you can even see the small flecks of dust when they are reflected by a flashlight. My biggest complaint about motion capture films had been that no matter how “natural” the characters appeared their eyes always looked creepy. Credit Spielberg and team, which includes “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, for clearing up that problem. The characters appear as lifelike as a digitally created person can. Especially one who bears a striking resemblance to Spielberg. And, as he has for over twenty films with the director, John Williams provides a brilliant score that captures the on screen story beautifully.
Blu-ray details and Extras :
The transfer and audio presentation really gives the film that extra special look and sounds divine! But even better are the plethora of making-of’s and docos! You’ll be busy for hours!